Snow, Anyone? The “October Surprise Storm” 2006

I had planned to post about the dynamics of librarian/patron relations last weekend, but I’m putting that on hold in favor of reporting on events that took place in Western New York thanks to the peculiarities of Mother Nature.  I live in the Buffalo, New York area, which is notoriously associated with receiving ungodly amounts of snow every winter (never mind that Syracuse, in the middle of the state, almost always gets more).  But even we were taken by surprise when it began to snow heavily on Thursday, October 12th.  By the time I left UB at 6:20 that evening (I was a good girl and had stayed for my Library Management class despite it looking like Christmas was coming), there was at least 6 inches of snow on my car.  Luckily I always have my snow brush in my back seat (which people have laughed at repeatedly, but who’s laughing now?), and I was also fortunate to live about 5 minutes from campus, so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time negotiating the unplowed roads.

What made the storm so problematic was its coming so early in the season – the leaves were still on the trees, so the added weight of the snow (which was wet and heavy to begin with) weighed down the branches enough that many of them bent and snapped, bringing down power lines.  I lost power sometime after midnight on Friday the 13th (and tried not to notice the date), along with over 350,000 other places around the region.  Again, I was fortunate – I have a gas fireplace that I used for heat, and a gas stove for cooking (which I had to light with a match, and I’m very proud that I never came close to setting myself on fire).  Being a woman also paid off in that I had a huge stockpile of candles in various sizes and scents to use for light in the evening.  Thousands of people were stuck with no means of heating their homes, but Buffalo has lived up to its nickname of “The City of Good Neighbors” – everyone is helping out where they can.  Our Congressional delegation got the storm zone declared a federal disaster area, so we’ll be eligible for government aid.  (I’m trying not to remember the mess that FEMA made out of its response to the Gulf Coast.)

I got my power back at about 6 on Saturday evening, but there are still a little less than 300,000 places without it, and it’s estimated that it’ll take the rest of this week to get everyone back on line.  But electrical crews from other states and Canada are working 24/7 to try to restore normalcy for everyone, so hopefully it won’t take quite that long.  Several schools are closed because they have no power, and some areas still have driving bans (mostly due to downed tree limbs and power lines that need to be cleared).  Thousands of us also have to boil water because one of the pumping stations lost power for a while, so there are water purity concerns. 

So to wrap up, we still have a lot to deal with, but the Western New York region is used to snow and its problems.  We’re tough people, and we’ll make it through the aftermath of this storm just like we’ve made it through so many others.

Here are some Buffalo News articles about the storm (they will be available for a short time without having to subscribe to the News’ archives):

Killer Storm Devastated Region’s Trees (about the number of trees that were damaged because of fallen limbs)

Surprise Storm Leaves WNY Reeling (general overview of what happened)

Parks’ Treasures Badly Battered (Buffalo has a park system designed by Frederick Law Olmstead that was affected by the storm)

4 Counties Eligible for Millions in Federal Aid (about our disaster status and FEMA)

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