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With Warm Weather On The Way, Buffalo Residents Shovel Out

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The skies finally cleared today around Buffalo. But western New York State is now bracing for something of a heat wave - 60 degrees and rain. And rather than bringing a welcome reprieve, the warm temperatures, it's feared, will cause serious flooding as more than six feet of snow begins to melt.

Lou Michel is a reporter with The Buffalo News who's been covering the response by emergency personnel to collapsed roofs and stranded motorists. And he's on the line now. Welcome to the program.

LOU MICHEL: Robert, thank you for having me.

SIEGEL: And where exactly are you now, or can you tell?

MICHEL: We're slowly creeping down Indian Church Road, which is part of the town of West Seneca where there has been a driving ban for the last few days. And we're getting a look at it for the first time. And I guess if there was a headline, it would be region staggering back from the brink.

SIEGEL: Do you see a lot of people out there shoveling snow off their roofs?

MICHEL: Oh, yeah. The place is dotted with that. In fact, we just left the Garden Gate Health Care Facility where they evacuated something like 130 elderly residents yesterday, and they have snow blowers up on the roof of the nursing home. It's very basic. They're shoveling the snow onto sections of old roof with ropes looped around the edges for handles and then running to the edge and letting the snow fly off.

SIEGEL: Now, that's on top of a fairly large building. What about individual homes? Are people up there on the slopes of their roofs? Isn't that kind of dangerous?

MICHEL: Well, you have people up on their porch roofs shoveling the snow, where a lot more snow settled because it's a flatter surface as opposed to the more angulated roofs. They're not taking their lives in their hands, generally. Hey Robert, how would you like to talk to this guy in shirtsleeves here?

SIEGEL: Sure.

MICHEL: His name is Guy Lapone (ph). He's a Desert Storm veteran, and he's got his green Army fatigue. Hello, how you doing, sir?

SIEGEL: You're in shirtsleeves?

GUY LAPONE: Oh, yeah. Once you pick up a shovel and about 30 pounds of snow, you warm real quick around here in Buffalo.

SIEGEL: I bet you do. What's the condition of your home there?

LAPONE: We're not in too bad of shape. I mean, we've got about 10-foot mountains of snow to the left and to the right of me. It's something I haven't seen here since probably - what was it? - early '90s when they had the big blizzard here.

SIEGEL: So you're a Buffalonian? You're not new to this sort of thing, but this beats it all.

LAPONE: Born and raised here. I was born and raised here all my life except for the six years I was in the military. Yeah. This is the worst I've ever seen it.

SIEGEL: Well, good luck to all of you, and Guy Lapone, thanks a lot for talking with us.

LAPONE: Thank you.

SIEGEL: Take care now. Well, just tell me, Lou, I mean, you've been following the first responders around. What is a day like in the life of a firefighter or an EMT worker?

MICHEL: Robert, they are intrepid. They were going up the doors where medical emergencies were occurring and literally carrying the person off of these side streets and into waiting vehicles on the main thoroughfares where, you know, hundreds of streets that have yet to be plowed. And snowplows don't do the job. You need high loaders, front loaders, and people need to be patient because it's done one scoop at a time.

SIEGEL: Well, Lou Michel, thank you very much for taking time out from your day to talk with us. You've got quite a story on your hands there.

MICHEL: Thank you and stay safe.

SIEGEL: That's Lou Michel, reporter for The Buffalo News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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