This is what we woke up to on Tuesday morning.As Buffaloians, we receive snow warnings all the time, so much so that we have become immune to them. Like the boy who cried wolf, we have stopped taking extra precautions since so many of these storms do not amount to much. So, when we were warned of a Lake Effect storm, not many braced for it. Monday morning at my custom install company’s weekly meeting the subject was never broached. Certainly we did not consider that it would be the last time we saw each other that week.
Monday night it began to snow, which seemed like no big deal; this happens in Buffalo. Sure, November is a little early, but it was nothing we had not previously experienced. When we awoke Tuesday morning, however, several feet of snow had fallen. It was so bad, in fact, that we could not plow our driveway (we broke the snow blower trying), and it was still snowing. I was both surprised and shocked that we were stuck, and I would not be able to open the store. Luckily for us, one of our employees lived upstairs from our store in an apartment and was able to make her way down to call our clients and let them know we needed to reschedule.
One quick note on this storm: It did not affect everyone in the Buffalo area. There was a distinct wall where the storm started just south of the city. If you were north of that line, you received a dusting. If you were south, you might have received up to 84 inches, with my hometown in the lead with that much snow when it finally stopped Thursday night.
The rest of the storm is a bit of a blur. The only way I can describe it is unworldly. The snow kept coming and piling up, at points we were not able to see our neighbor’s house across the street. As I write this late morning Friday, we have yet to see a plow and a travel ban is still in effect. You cannot tell our driveway from the yard and the only way you know the car is there is a higher bubble of snow. The sun is finally shining; skies are blue, and digging out has begun. Buildings have collapsed in my little village from the weight, and people are concerned. The weather is now set to flash to warmth, and we are due for flooding.
It feels a bit like an apocalypse, but a quiet one. Snow makes everything very quiet.
I have noticed a few things about technology after being stuck in our home for more than 96 hours.
Social Media is King. I know that many watched the news during this storm, but we hardly had it on at all for fear that it would worry our children. Instead, we turned to social media, namely Facebook. It was constantly updated from friends all over, and we often learned facts without the scare tactics that the news often uses. I do follow our local new outlets on the social media site, and from there I was updated on snowfalls and expectations. With no newspaper, mail, deliveries, no escaping from your home, this site made you feel like you were not alone. You saw people that had it much worse than you did (my sister had no furnace throughout this ordeal, just a gas fireplace), and saw that your friends and family were all right.
Facebook is the new newspaper; it has become a way of life. It was how we could update our clients that we were buried and that we would remain closed. It was how we found out that we were still under a travel ban, and what roads were plowed out and which were not.
Standing in the middle of what was once my street.
Work from Anywhere. The double-edged sword of the technological age is that you can work from anywhere. My husband works in the city where there was no snow, and the work did not stop just because he could not make it. He spent most of his days on conference calls in between shoveling. He was able to log on to his email accounts, set up future meetings and, well, work.
Luckily for me, we had no major jobs that had to be completed this week, although we’ll be doubling up to try to fit everything in before Thanksgiving. Via email and text, I was able to keep in touch with anything pressing. I was still able to process payroll, and since we have direct deposit, everyone was paid as usual by Friday.
Technology Can Sooth the Savage Beast. With two girls ages eight and six, being cooped up for four days can test your patience. Music thoughout the house always seems to tame them, but the real savior was Netflix and iTunes. With iTunes, we had the ability to rent any movie of their dreams. We purchased Maleficent, which they watched twice, as well as a few others. We didn’t fully rely on television, but a movie a day (or may a little big more) was certainly a survival tactic. Apple should have donated 20 dollars per AppleTV and call it “relief efforts” (as this may have been almost as important as plowing after four days).
When my children became lonely or felt isolated, we turned to Facetime. We did this with my parents (who only live a half a mile away) and another stuck friend of theirs.
Of course, there was non-technology that filled gaps of time as I think we’ve played every board game in our household and completed a 500-piece puzzle of the United States.
Day Four we are out of milk, cream, meat, and eggs, but we have each other, we have heat, and hopefully we keep the roof over our heads. And until we are freed from our homes, we will also have technology to keep us company.
Our 500-piece puzzle day one.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.