Holy shit is the only way to describe it. I’m about 20 miles East of Buffalo (near Darien Lake for those that know the area,) and my power just came on about an hour ago. (naturally the first thing I’m doing is posting,) I came home from work about 10:00 pm Thursday night and it was coming down pretty good. Listening to the radio everybody was joking around about how it’s really early for this much snow to be falling. I didn’t think much of it and went to bed.
Around 1:30 in the morning the neighbor kids were banging on my bedroom window waving flashlights to wake me up. The power was already out and the heavy wet snow was building up on the still leaf bearing trees and casing limbs to snap. The huge 46 year old maple tree over my driveway had already lost one 1 foot diameter branch into the yard. My truck was parked under the tree. I moved it to the neighbors driveway. The kids heard it smash and thought my truck would be next.
I helped the neighbor drag his generator out of his shed and up to the houses. We got it going and ran two hundred feet of extension cord to my house for my sump pump and theirs. Standing outside at 2:00 am in the quiet, still, dark snowy night was surreal. Every few minutes there was a CRACK like a rifle shot and the crunching sound of branches hitting the ground. I have (had) woods behind my house and across the street. From every direction I heard that huge crack over and over. Off to bed.
I woke up and could see my breath in the morning. I haven’t even put up my storm windows yet or turned on my furnace. It’s been a typical mild fall. I can only remember having a dusting of snow around Halloween two or three times in my life. I was totally unprepared for what I saw when I looked out the window.
Lake effect snow is interesting. A small storm came across the still warm lake Erie and picked up all the moisture. As soon as it hits land it starts dumping all the snow. It left a swath across three counties buried. On a cell phone I talked to a friend 15 miles north near Lockport they had no snow at all. South of East Aurora was clear too.
At my house, the snow was over my knees. No big deal there. Buffalonians can shrug that off. The utter devastation of the trees was massive. The 3 maples around my house are two feet across at the trunk, about 75’ high. They are (were) massive and gorgeous. Half the branches are down. If I didn’t move my truck it would have been crushed. The are thirty foot long branches a foot in diameter across my driveway. The fence around my pool is smashed to hell in two places. I had a bank of lilac bushes that were about the size of a one car garage. They are about a foot tall now. Just stumps sticking out of the ground. Luckily the stuff that landed on the house wasn’t that big and didn’t do any damage. I’ve seen pictures of Hurricane damage, this is close.
I found a radio that ran off batteries and realized this was bigger than I thought. Almost 300,000 people were without power. It was most of the first day before water came back. They had no power to run the pumps. Some roads are still impassable three days later from the downed lines and trees. Some people may not have power until next weekend. Power crews are here from all over New England helping out.
The last few nights I slept on the floor in front of my fireplace with the kitties under a pile of blankets. It’s in the 40’s but after three days of that it gets old. Reports are coming in of over a hundred people in local hospital from Carbon Monoxide poisoning. The are either running generators indoors or using their gas stoves for heat. I’m lucky with a generator at my disposal to keep my basement from flooding and my food from spoiling. I had a lot of bottled water and gas, but not enough as it turns out.
The amazing thing about the resilience of Buffalo? Neighbors who have never met, are helping each other dig out and cut trees up. Sharing food and power or gas. Last night in the middle of this huge disaster pockets of the area still had power. Like the core downtown. The Sabers played their Hockey game like nothing happened and won, going 5 and 0 to start the season.