Tragedy and Triumph From Recent Killer Snowstorm

Seems like every year, Buffalo, New York gets blasted with a massive snowstorm. The combination of cold weather, sitting alongside Lake Erie, and being in the direct line of storms moving eastward is often the perfect storm for that city.

This year is no exception. The only difference is that it was far deadlier than normal. The recent snowstorm that dropped about four feet of snow in parts of the region ended up resulting in 27 deaths in and around Buffalo. 

Overall across the country, the winter storm that eventually reached Buffalo killed nearly 50. So, more than one-half of those fatalities occurred in upper western New York.

When that much snow falls in that short of a time period, it’s nearly impossible for rescue crews to get through. Hence the large number of deaths. 

Kathy Hochul is the governor of New York. She said, “This is a war with Mother Nature. And she has been hitting us with everything she has.”

Tour Group Receives Unexpected Hospitality

But Americans are resilient. And for every death there was at least one story of survival and heroism. Thanks to Good Samaritans who risked their own safety to help others. Today I’d like to tell you about a few of them. 

Headed for Niagara Falls, a tour group from South Korea got stuck in the snow while in a van. Two of the tour group members knocked on the door of a nearby house to request the use of shovels. 

The homeowners, Andrea and Alexander Campagna, did much more than loan their shovels. They invited the nine travelers and their tour van driver in to spend the weekend.

One of the tour group members said, “It was kind of like fate.” He described the couple as “the kindest people I have ever met.”

Christmas in a Firehouse

A family of six living in Williamsville, near Buffalo, lost power in their home. They tried to get to a hotel, but were stranded in the snow along the way. 

Firefighters risked their own necks by conducting a rescue, taking the family back to their fire station. The couple’s four children ranged in age from nine months to eight years. 

But that’s not all the firefighters did. Because it was Christmas Eve and they didn’t want the children to be disappointed, they scrounged up some makeshift presents for the kids. 

It wasn’t exactly how the couple, Demetrice and Danielle, wanted to spend a holiday. But they were very grateful for the kindness of the firefighters.

A Cyber Baby Delivery 

And what’s a rescue saga without a childbirth story? Erica Thomas, whose baby was due on Christmas, started to feel contractions two days earlier. Just as the blizzard was peaking. 

She and her husband, Davon, lived only five miles from the hospital where they planned to have the baby. But they couldn’t get through the storm. And paramedics were unable to get to their home.

The couple connected with a Buffalo blizzard Facebook group where they received step by step directions on how to deliver their baby at home. Erica gave birth to a healthy baby girl. 

The next day, a neighbor showed up at their home, walked them to his truck, and drove them to the hospital. No wonder Buffalo is known as “The City of Good Neighbors.” 

Less Than 50% of Americans Are Prepared

As intense as the snowstorm in Buffalo was, it was not unprecedented. And it’s likely to occur again someday.

 Extreme weather is increasing across the country. Both in the number of events and in their severity. According to a new government preparedness report, 60 weather-related disasters caused 1,460 fatalities and 2,939 injuries in the U.S. over three years. 

The study also revealed that less than 50% of Americans are prepared for an emergency. And two-thirds don’t feel prepared enough. 

Forty-two percent of respondents to the government survey said they plan to prepare for identified threats and hazards in the future. But they haven’t started to do so yet.

‘It Will Never Happen to Us’ 

Here are some of their statements explaining why: 

  • “It won’t happen to me.”
  • “It wasn’t so bad last time.”
  • “(Storms) aren’t as devastating as they seem.”
  • “If I evacuate, my home will be looted.”
  • “I cannot afford to evacuate.”

For others, it’s all about procrastination. They know they need to do something to prepare, but they just keep putting it off. And the longer nothing significant happens, the concern becomes out of sight, out of mind.

The fact is, nearly 70% of the nation’s electric grids are more than 25 years old. Record heat waves, winter storms, and drought are pushing vulnerable electric grids to their breaking points. 

This impacts all regions of the U.S. As an example, a December 2022 arctic blast greatly impacted many power-generating centers. It left 6.3 million households without power during part of the storm. 

Folks, the best time to prepare for the inevitable was years ago. But the second best time is now. Don’t let that time slip away.

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