Motorists rescued, fed, kept warm during travel on Friday

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Michael Santaferrara got up early Friday morning and drove from Cazenovia to see his sisters in the western part of the state. After driving about 140 miles on Thruway, he thought all was well.

“Then it was closed because of a lot of clashes,” a New York City visitor told the Batavian newspaper on Friday night. I felt like I was in. It was a complete whiteout. I was looking for a road at 5 mph.”

Santa Ferrara wasn’t alone, given the volume of 911 calls and observations of emergency responders.

But he was probably one of the lucky ones. After leaving the thruway and into a rural side street, he described it as “as if moving from one white canvas to the next”, Pembroke he arrived at an intersection near Central School. Oakfield firefighters were on site directing traffic and providing assistance.

Asked where Santa Ferrara was headed, he replied, “Lewiston.” There had been many accidents and vehicle traffic by that point, and emergency responders were discouraging anyone from driving if possible.

When he asked where to go to get off the road for a while, he was directed to the Oakfield fire station. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Along the way, Santa Ferrara encountered several detours due to accidents, which, combined with whiteout conditions, left her hoping to find her destination.

“It was all white down the road. It was a complete whiteout,” he said after pulling into the driveway just down the road. “I wanted to knock on the door. When I got back to the intersection, they were gone.”

He puts the Oakfield Fire Department on his phone and finally arrives safely. I agree. Even though he was in the general area, he couldn’t even see the building. He tried to open and knock on doors along parts of the facility before finding the correct entrance. did.

“They were already saving families with babies and dogs,” Santaferrara said. “They fed us all and gave us towels to dry on. We hung out there, kept warm, and then drove us to the hotel they recommended.”

There was also a couple traveling from Connecticut and a couple about to drive to Canada. Although he grew up in Syracuse, Santa Ferrara has lived in New York for nearly his 40 years.

“This is winter amplified,” he said, adding that his sisters offered to pick him up. I will not allow it. I was in it.I could see what I was going through.100% opacity…the worst thing I have ever experienced in my life. .

Despite the perilous trip, Santa Ferrara was grateful for towels drying his snow-covered face, body and hands. For a comforting, nourishing addition to grilled cheese sandwiches and beverages. And for genuine kindness from the firefighters themselves.

“They were really kind, warm and really welcoming,” he said. “I literally thought I would be stuck in it…in the middle of nowhere. Never before had my fingers and face frozen so fast.”

Firefighter Bill Sturgeon said the Oakfield Fire Station served as a warming station for the storm. This is the story of his 32-year career as a firefighter. He transported people to hotels in Batavia as needed.

“It has to be one of the top 1-2 storms I have ever experienced…in terms of visibility. ‘s car had to stay away. It made me feel sick, but I couldn’t stop,” Sturgeon said late Friday night. “Other people were taken to the fire station. The captain found several people on the way home and picked them up. One had asthma. But the ambulance crew came to help. I did.”

(See my personal account for driving in a storm.)

There were some helpers, including those who came from unexpected places. I had goosebumps when Santaferrara walked into the fire station. He had his deceased mom and dad’s contact pages pop up on his phone.

“It felt like they were taking care of you,” he said.

His luck continued when he got the last available room at the City Hotel, he said. With less trail mix snacks, he was ready to stay in place until it was safe to move. His car remained at the fire station, and the firefighters offered to pick him up and take him back to the station when the time was right.

“I am incredibly grateful,” he said.


Above: Members of the Oakfield Fire Rescue during a brief lull from the rescue of motorists stranded in the winter cold Friday in Genesee County. Above, the truck is ready for action. A photo submitted by Michael Santaferrara of being taken to a hotel in Batavia after being caught in a whiteout en route to Lewiston.

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