Monday, December 26, 2022

Some amazing Christmas stories

For millions of people in Canada and in the US, it has been an awful Christmas - terrible weather, monster storms, no power, cancelled flights, people stuck in transit. Dozens of people have died. 
The only uplifting aspect in this situation is the stories we are reading now about how ordinary people pitched in to do whatever they could -- stories of courage, resilience, and willingness to help. These people are extraordinary: They traveled from South Korea. They Got Stranded Near Buffalo:
....Then, on Friday at 2 p.m., with the storm already swirling and snow rapidly piling up, making roads impassable, there was a knock at the door. Two men, part of a group of nine tourists from South Korea that was traveling to Niagara Falls, asked for shovels to dig their passenger van out of a ditch.
And so an unlikely holiday weekend began, with the Campagnas welcoming the travelers, along with their driver, as house guests....
They spent the weekend swapping stories, watching the Buffalo Bills defeat the Chicago Bears on Christmas Eve and sharing delicious Korean home-cooked meals prepared by the guests, like jeyuk bokkeum, a spicy stir-fried pork dish, and dakdori tang, a chicken stew laced with fiery red pepper. To the surprise and glee of the Korean guests, Mr. Campagna and his wife, who are both fans of Korean food, had all the necessary condiments on hand: mirin, soy sauce, Korean red pepper paste, sesame oil and chili flakes. There was also kimchi and a rice cooker.
In the Globe and Mail, I read this Associated Press report with some of the stories from the Buffalo storm:
...Ditjak Ilunga of Gaithersburg, Maryland, was on his way to visit relatives in Hamilton, Ontario, for Christmas with his daughters Friday when their SUV was trapped in Buffalo. Unable to get help, they spent hours with the engine running, buffeted by wind and nearly buried in snow.
By 4 a.m. Saturday, their fuel nearly gone, Ilunga made a desperate choice to risk the howling storm to reach a nearby shelter. He carried 6-year-old Destiny on his back while 16-year-old Cindy clutched their Pomeranian puppy, following his footprints through drifts.
“If I stay in this car I’m going to die here with my kids,” Ilunga recalled thinking. He cried when the family walked through the shelter doors. “It’s something I will never forget in my life.”
And here is another story:
... In Buffalo, William Kless was up at 3 a.m. Sunday. He called his three children at their mother’s house to wish them Merry Christmas and then headed off on his snowmobile for a second day spent shuttling people from stuck cars and frigid homes to a church operating as a warming shelter.
Through heavy, wind-driven snow, he brought about 15 people to the church in Buffalo on Saturday, he said, including a family of five transported one-by-one. He also got a man in need of dialysis, who had spent 17 hours stranded in his car, back home, where he could receive treatment.
“I just felt like I had to,” Kless said.
The New York Times reports these stories in their article In Buffalo, Even the Rescuers Needed Rescuing:
... In Buffalo, with professional rescuers slow to arrive, and shelters often unreachable, residents improvised. ...Blizzard Facebook groups popped up overnight, with stranded residents begging for help. More than one family sought out a midwife to coach a pregnant woman through labor. Christopher Pulinski put out a call for help reuniting with his 17-year-old son, stuck home alone in the neighborhood of Elmwood Village. A stranger with a snowmobile replied that he was on his way.
On Christmas morning, Chris Giardina, 43, who owns Jardys Towing & Recovery in Buffalo, received an urgent call from a woman stuck in a snowbank in the middle of a median along Main Street in front of Sisters of Charity Hospital, where she had just picked up insulin for her husband.
“She called me panicking,” said Mr. Giardina, who had planned to take the holiday off. He revved up his tow truck and pulled her as close to home as he could get through roads nearly impassable with snow, he said.
“She does not have any power,” Mr. Giardina added. “But the main thing is he’s got his insulin.”
... Leon Horace Miller, 52, of Buffalo, transformed his landscaping and snow plow company into a rescue operation. By late afternoon on Christmas Day he had dislodged 14 people from snow banks or moved them out of unheated homes that had lost power. “It’s been nonstop since Friday,” Mr. Miller said. “Everyone knows I have big trucks.” Healthcare workers posted their locations and phone numbers online in hopes that those in need nearby would find them.
...In the small community of Basom, a restaurant became a makeshift refuge for 115 stranded passers-by and four dogs for two days, said Joe Bradt, the general manager. “We made an instantaneous decision that we were going to become a shelter.”
People slept wherever they could, he said: on chairs, on floors and on the bar of the establishment, the Alabama Hotel, which despite its name is not — in normal times — a hotel. Neighbors and local businesses donated supplies, an outpouring of support which made the mood, despite the storm, “ecstatic,” he said.
“It’s been an emotional last two days,” Mr. Bradt said.
In Chatham, a bunch of people spent the night at a local Walmart after the roads were closed:
Dozens of people spent the night in a Walmart store in Chatham-Kent, located in southwestern Ontario, on Friday as a punishing winter blizzard closed the roads around them. At least one person who was stranded says the staff made it as comfortable as possible.
Store staff blew up air mattresses for the shoppers and served hot meals from the deli, says Heather Nickoli, who was en route from Ohio to Peterborough, Ont., with her boyfriend. Store workers also played music and gave people games to play.
A total of 50 stranded customers and 48 staff spent the night.


Mike Milner said...

It was bad. I live in Central Ontario and I have never seen this much snow over Christmas. I spent the morning trying to help drivers who stuck on the street in front of my house. My son and I then spent two hours just shovelling out the driveway. No snowplows until overnight (so a big windrow across the end of the drive this morning). Hope things are better where you are.

Cathie from Canada said...

Here in Saskatoon it was bitterly cold last week and it snowed on Xmas eve, so my husband and son were out shovelling on Christmas day, then exhausted afterwards. But it was nowhere near as much as down east (Ontario) -- what a terrible time people had, I'm just glad that nobody died - in Canada at least.
Very good of you to help drivers stuck - it makes such a huge difference to get that kind of help.