Vinnie says his uncle wasn’t buried until spring -- there was just too much snow. And anyway, officials used the cemeteries as storage lots for all the cars they towed off the streets. “I never saw my uncle again,” Vinnie says. “The undertaker put him on ice until spring came.”
By Tuesday, Buffalo Mayor Stanley Makowski declared a state of emergency. Ignoring the ban on non-essential travel brought fines up to $500 and 90 days in jail. Still, scores of people got ticketed.
Slowly, over the coming days, Buffalo began to dig out. On Wednesday, the first mail delivery since the storm hit came via six four-wheel drive trucks hauled in from nearby Rochester.
I was a lightweight. On Friday, sensing the oncoming maelstrom, I caught the last Greyhound bus out of Buffalo back home to Syracuse. I couldn’t return for another week, as my fellow students at the State University of New York at Buffalo got a frolicking, unscheduled “Let’s make some goofy snowmen” break from classes.
Makowski brought in mammoth Army Corps of Engineer earthmovers to clear city streets of the by-then dirty snow. But they could plow out only a lane and a half on most thoroughfares, so by spring, many cars were missing driver’s side mirrors, most of them having been sheared off by passing buses.
Buffalo eventually recovered. When they talk about that winter, people still tell stories about where they were when the brunt of the storm hit; where they left their car, and what motel or restaurant gave them refuge. It even moved one man to song, as the video above shows.
Still, this is a no-nonsense crowd. Buffalonians don’t fear snow. Bring it on, they say. Like Neil, my brother-in-law. He’s a tough guy.
“We expect snow here,” he said. “The plows come in -- a couple a days we’re back on the road.”