My family is digging out. We are used to lake effect snow coming off of Lake Erie in the Buffalo, NY area, but not like this. Some communities have seen snowfalls that are near or even exceed their typical snowfall totals for the entire year. My father who recently celebrated his 86th birthday lives in Lancaster where he nearly received an inch for nearly every year of his life. They got 84″ in just 3 days.
Lake Effect snow can be a very narrow band and that was the case this time. Communities less than 10 miles away only received a few inches. That may seem strange to those who don’t hear their local TV meteorologist say things like “the full fetch of the lake”, but it is the way it is around here. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz remarked in the early going that on the radar map It looked like a knife going through the heart of Erie County, so they have called it Winter Storm Knife..
Two of my daughters live with their families in heavily impacted areas and have not been able to leave their homes for 5 days. There is a 4 to 6 foot wall of compacted snow at the foot of their driveways and the combined efforts of the streets departments, New York State, and the National Guard have not yet been able to clear their streets. One of them called worried that her house was going to collapse from the weight of the snow on her roof as they were seeing cracks developing in their ceilings in the dining room, kitchen, and one of the bedrooms.
There was no way we could get through to them as travel into the area was impossible. I was incredibly frustrated as our calls to 911, police departments, and emergency response centers yielded no way to get them help. I am not angry about this, there just were not enough resources to deal with the crisis and everyone was stretched beyond thin while doing the best they could. I had nowhere to turn other than God and prayer. So that is what we did. My wife and I were praying and I put out prayer requests on Facebook and by email. The response was both immediate and generous. My son-in-law, who has a medical disability which should have prevented him from going on the roof to clear it went up there anyway knowing that the task was beyond what he could do. The prayers that went out for them not only kept him safe but softened the hearts of two neighbors who had earlier turned a blind eye to their situation.
I can’t thank those 2 men, or the hundreds of people who prayed enough.
Now that the snow has stopped we are all digging out and bracing for the near 60 degree weather coming with rain and wind that will melt the snow all too quickly, and undoubtedly cause arial flooding. Further difficulties for sure as we have already seen dozens of roofs that did collapse on both businesses and private homes. I believe the death’s attributed to this storm are now tallied at 13 but I spoke to a man yesterday whose grandmother died trying to dig out and she is not mentioned in the official accounts that I heard. I can’t help but wonder if there are others.
If you are reading this hours, days, or even years after I write this. Remember the power of prayer and pray for those who are in difficulty and distress. Pray for those who mourn. Pray for peace. Your prayer may be the final one that is needed to make the difference.
Here are two of my grandchildren standing on top of the snow that was removed from the roof to save their home. Snow removed by muscle and prayer.