BUFFALO – The National Guard was sent in Tuesday to help the city dig out after a surprise snowstorm dumped 2 feet of snow, trapped motorists in their cars and stranded thousands of workers and schoolchildren overnight at offices, supermarkets, City Hall and restaurants.
“It’s like an army just came through and just started hitting us with snow, that’s how everything looks,” said 12-year-old Journey Cooper, one of seven youngsters who spent the night at a hotel.
Mayor Anthony Masiello declared a state of emergency and banned drivers from the streets to give plows and tow-truck crews room to work, urging everyone to “stay out of our city.”
Prison inmates were enlisted to dig out fire hydrants, street corners and sidewalks. National Guardsmen used Humvees and other four-wheel-drive vehicles to deliver blankets, water and food.
Buffalo is accustomed to astonishing amounts of snow from “lake effect” storms, which pick up moisture from Lake Erie. But the timing of this storm, which unloaded 25 inches of snow, caught the city off guard Monday.
The storm hit its peak in the middle of the afternoon. Many businesses sent employees home early, and everyone hit the slippery streets at once.
An estimated 2,000 youngsters got unexpected sleepovers around the city after their buses were halted by the snow and by abandoned cars in the streets.
The students who finally got home Tuesday had been stranded in stuck buses or hadn’t even bothered leaving school buildings in the storm.
Two busloads of children spent the night at the local FBI building, and workers went out on snowmobiles to pick up pizzas for them.
“They’ve been warm, they’ve been well fed, they were a lot happier, I’m sure, than many of you parents were,” Superintendent Marion Canedo assured parents. On the Net:
City of Buffalo: www.ci.buffalo.ny.us/city/index.html
Live Web cameras: www.buffalocam.com and www.buffalo.com
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