BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Amid this horrific storm, there are stories of hope and cries for help and desperation. Thousands lost power and remained in the dark for days without heat around Buffalo. Others were stuck in their cars trying to get home before the storm.
Ferocious wind, white-out snow, and frigid temperatures made conditions unbearable and dangerous during this historic storm. Latoya Smitha, a resident of Minnesota Avenue in Buffalo, said that her family was stuck for two days without electricity or heat in their apartment. “You lose touch to your fingers,” she said. “Lose feeling as soon as you walk in. And you can see your breath. The windows are frosted over.”
Smith said that her apartment was freezing after it lost power on Friday afternoon. She added that the halls of her building were warmer than the apartments, so everyone gathered there with blankets to ride out the storm.
“We need help when something like this happens. They should be better prepared,” Smith said. “You tell us not to leave. We don’t leave. And then we die in our houses and in our apartment.”
The Smith family made it out on Sunday afternoon. They walked one block to Main Street seeking help, but even that was extremely challenging. “It was the hardest walk I ever did in my life. I collapsed at the end. I could not walk,” Smith continued. “I could not breathe.”
Cassandra Garmon is a pharmacy technician at Buffalo General Hospital. She left work in the early afternoon Friday, trying to get home to her 13-year-old and 4-year-old daughters. Her car got stuck on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, where she remained for almost 18 hours.
“At one point in time, I’m like, ‘I do not want to die out here alone in the cold around the holidays. My kids are at home by themselves,'” Garmon said. “It was it was a lot.”
She was finally rescued by snowmobile after describing her situation on Facebook. Garmon was taken to a nearby shelter, which she recalled also lacked electricity. After another post on social media, a Good Samaritan answered her call for help and brought her home to her daughters in Cheektowaga.
“That was the biggest relief I’ve ever felt in my life,” Garmon added. “When he told me, ‘I’m outside,’ I’m like, “Yes! Oh my goodness, I can finally get home to my kids.'”
When she got home, her daughters were overwhelmed with joy. “She hugged me so tight that she literally like squeezed the air out of me,” Garmon said.
Emotional cries for help are pouring in, including from Wendy M. Her daughter and grandchildren are stuck in their Buffalo home in the suburbs. Wendy is unable to help her family, who she said is in need of medical care and is freezing. “I can’t get to them,” she said. “I have no means of getting to them—and knowing that I have grandbabies that I can’t get to, and my kids that I can’t get too. It literally tears you apart, and you feel suffocated and helpless.”
For people who are still stuck, Wendy said that this is a time for unity. “Be a friendly neighbor—don’t loot, just try to help those people in need,” she said. “This is a time where Buffalo comes together and we reach out and we hold each other’s hands and we support and help each other.”