December 05, 2022

Here We Snow Again (But Not On Our Own)

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

Nationwide, Buffalo is known for a few things: chicken wings, a football team that lost four consecutive Super Bowls, and a place that is cold and snowy. True, we happily claim our city as home of the chicken wing, we love our Buffalo Bills, and we take pride in being able to handle adverse winter weather conditions. Those of us on the inside refer to Buffalo as the city of good neighbors, and use slogans like “My city smells like Cheerios” and “Talking Proud.”

I’ve been through countless snowstorms, including what’s known as Snowvember in November 2014. Back in 2014, it wasn’t snow that was our biggest worry. It was the smell of gas in our basement that concerned us. We stayed with friends across the street who generously offered to take us in until a worker from the gas company was able to determine the leak was coming from outside our house and was able to solve the problem.

Recently, we were warned that another serious storm was coming. Heeding the warning, it was time for the ritual of storm preparation. We made sure to shop for plenty of food, stocked up on wine and beer, obtained gas for the snow blower, and secured other key items like ice melt. On November 17, the night before the storm, local news reported on a man preparing by purchasing an abundance of beer, stating “You never know who’s going to come over. We’re about to be snowed in, and I wanna be ready for the football game.”

On November 18th, when the snow started falling at a rapid pace, a song came into my head, Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” a song with the lyrics “Here I go again on my own, going down the only road I've ever known, like a drifter, I was born to walk alone.”

As the title of this blog post indicates, I adjusted the lyrics to reflect one of my favorite sociological values, the idea of interdependence. We get through these snowstorms together, not alone. We depend on our families and neighbors. A snowplow is a sight for sore eyes (and sore arms from shoveling).

Picture 1 - snow - town plowPictured above is a snowplow in front of our house, operated by a town employee. It’s a coordinated effort between local municipalities, the county, New York State, and the federal government to remove snow. It’s a herculean effort to transport snow and requires tremendous skill. My friend Chris, an employee for Erie County, worked sixteen-hour days five days in a row, helping clear roads throughout the region.

Picture 2 - snow - our carsIt was a team effort as a family to remove snow from our driveway, and then to clear our cars. As you can see, there was a lot of work to do. 

Picture 3 - snow - lets go buffalo
We showed our civic pride by making sure our “Let’s Go Buffalo” sign could be seen. 

Picture 4 - snow mountainSo much plow driven snow accumulated in front of our house that one of our kids was able to climb a snow mountain.

Picture 5 - snow pic roofWhen the streets were plowed, we walked through the neighborhood, and I was struck by the sight of a man shoveling snow off his roof.

The enormous amounts of snow resulted in collapsing roofs, including a bowling alley that will need to be demolished.

We were glued to local news, watching updates about travel bans and weather forecasts. Friends and relatives from out of state checked in with us, which boosted our morale. Friends who lived only about 40 minutes away but weren’t impacted by the brunt of the storm teased us about how little snow they received.

But one of these friends admitted soon after that he felt like he had missed out on the experience. A storm of this magnitude presents challenges and produces a lot of stress, but the communal feeling of going through something together enhances pride in place and builds collective identity as citizens who are strong enough to survive a difficult weather event. On Sunday, November 20, the worst of the storm was over, and we could look forward to relaxing and watching the Bills game.

Originally scheduled as a home game, it had to be moved from Orchard Park (where 80 inches of snow had fallen) to the Detroit Lions stadium. Many fans shared stories about the joint effort required to help players get cleared out of their snow covered driveways. During the game, one of the broadcasters mentioned the neighbors who helped quarterback Josh Allen get out of his driveway. One of those neighbors will be remembered because of his colorful name, Squirrel Winter. Squirrel instantly became part of Buffalo lore and, of course, merchandise became available to commemorate the event.

As I write this, it hasn’t snowed in two days, and the sun has shined brilliantly both of those days to help slowly melt the snow. A ferocious snowstorm is a lot for a community to endure, but it’s something that ties us together, and I feel very fortunate that I didn’t have to experience it on my own.

Photos courtesy of the author


OMG! Dense snow! Does it affect everyone's life here?

Winter scene look beautiful

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