BUFFALO, NY - There's no way to weather a winter storm without some heroes.
That proved to be no exception on Thursday when a lake effect blast inundated the Southtowns, stranding countless motorists for hours.
And once again, Western New Yorkers showed their time honored tradition of neighbor helping neighbor.
To be frank, when Two on Your Side reached out to viewers on social media, asking them to identify someone who helped them, we received the names of more people than we could mention.
The most mentioned, however, were the bus drivers, teachers, and staff of some West Seneca Schools, who stayed away from their own families through the night, in order to care for, and lend comfort to the children of others who became stranded at their schools or on their busses when they attempted to depart for afternoon dismissal.
West Seneca resident Jesse McCabe specifically mentioned his neighbor Ryan Murphy, who transported he and his daughter back from her school on his ATV, as well as West Seneca Police Detective Gibbons, who he says saw them walking on Seneca Street, and drove them the rest of the way home.
“Both men made sure we got home safe and warm and wanted nothing in return,” he wrote in a text message.
Another viewer “nominated” Phil Johnson, the principal at Windom Elementary School in Orchard Park, who stayed with students who were also stranded at his school until midnight, when police escorted them home on their busses.
Some heroes were nameless, and preferred to stay that way.
Such were the two men who came upon Pam Miliotto’s car, stalled among many in the vicinity of Union Road and Orchard Park Roads.
Alone in her car for five hours, she described them as angels.
“They were helping everybody,” Miliotto told WGRZ-TV. “They actually had little shovels and they were digging out everybody's car so they could go up a hill."
She never got their names.
“They wouldn't give us their names, they just called themselves the anonymous heroes. They were right in the middle of everything helping everybody," she said.
Several viewers wrote to express thanks to various businesses along thoroughfares clogged with cars, and who rendered sustenance to motorists who could not move
Wanda Bystron wrote to salute the staff of the Zebbs restaurant on Southwestern Boulevard, which more resembled a parking lot late into Thursday night.
“The amazing girls from Zebbs were in the road, walking around in the streets to the many cars at a standstill with a tray full of cookies and brownies handing them out...amazing!” she wrote.
Not far away, where Marcia Leonard of South Buffalo was stuck for five hours along Abbot Road near Milestrip Road, she was at first relieved when traffic finally began to move.
However, instead of being let to travel on her way home, authorities still trying to clear streets directed her instead to pull into the parking lot of a nearby Wegmans—where she stayed for another five hours.
“We didn’t leave there until 1:30 am, but Wegmans’ hospitality was amazing,” said Leonard. They put out coffee and donuts and pastry…they even turned on the Sabres game for us!”
Others wrote to salute the staff at Winfield’s Pub in Lackawanna, who waded out into the snow falling on Ridge Road in Lackawanna where they handed hot macaroni and cheese to stalled motorists.
The spirit of neighborliness was also exhibited on Berg Road in West Seneca, according to several viewers, who wrote in about Wayne Covert.
He and his wife moved here from West Virginia only three months ago, and one of their first purchases was a snow blower.
“I’ll bet you there were at least 50 cars we ended up pushing and digging," said Covert, who says there was just as much credit due to his neighbors along the street who also pitched in to help.
Covert used his snow blower to dig out several cars, and his Jeep to tow out several others.
The Jeep was not powerful enough, however, to move the bus hauling handicapped children which they also discovered stranded on their.
As his wife called authorities to alert them of the bus and its occupants, Covert brought them water and snacks.
“We figured they probably had no dinner and were hungry,” said the former Marine who spent 20 years in the Corp, including combat in Operation Desert Storm.
It's always astounding how the people of Western New York will assist others in need.
Yet…it is never surprising.
“No it is not,” said Leonard. “When we say we're the city of good neighbors, it’s true. This is Buffalo.”