- Associated Press - Friday, November 21, 2014

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Anyone who’s grown up in Buffalo or even spent a few years here has stories of the big ones. Lots of us remember the Blizzard of ‘77 with drifts so high kids sledded off rooftops, and there was the 2006 “October Surprise” that flattened trees and killed power for a week.

This week’s storm, though, is a whole other story.

The forecast Monday threatened 1-2 feet of snow the next day, enough that I brought my laptop home in case of an impossible morning commute. Four days later, my car remains just where I parked it in the driveway of our south Buffalo home. It is immobilized by 6-foot drifts - not to mention a driving ban. And I’ve been filing stories from the bulls-eye of a snowstorm that’s awed even those of us who have been through it before.

My neighbors, at least those I don’t know well, must be wondering how it is that pictures and video of their socked-in homes have shown up on the national news. Even my own front yard has had cameos.

It’s what happens when you cover a story from a standstill - when a reporting trip consists of wading to the driveway.

The wrought-iron fence in our front yard told the tale of how different this storm has been. Just hours into the storm Tuesday, I was amazed to see snow piled nearly to the top of its 4 1/2-foot-tall posts - then floored when it disappeared Wednesday under 6 feet of snow.

Neither my husband, John, nor I could budge the front or side doors Tuesday morning when I tried to go out to take pictures. He was ready to open a window to climb through, but we managed instead to push open the front door just enough to stick an arm through and paddle away snow. Eventually I squeezed outside with a shovel and cleared a spot to stand in.

Crazily, I hoped to see a neighbor or two out to interview. Seriously? With the snowfall still relentless and the wind chill below zero?

Back inside, I called next door to Linda “LouLou” Oakley.

She told me her son, Todd, had come to visit and been stranded. They were going to watch “Dumb and Dumber” on Netflix. We laughed, remembering our former Mayor Jimmy Griffin’s signature advice from a 1985 blizzard: “Stay inside, grab a six-pack and watch a good football game.”

Reporting the story has meant lots of phone calls. County and city officials, even the governor, have been plenty accessible at news conferences, just not to me. The snow band off Lake Erie that buried my neighborhood and points south and east barely touched places just a few miles to the north.

Wednesday, I pounced when a man went slogging by the house with a shovel, sinking to his waist with each step but determined to get to a friend’s house after spending 36 cold and hungry hours at his warehouse job.

I invited him in for a minute to rest and he agreed to talk for our story and let me photograph him as he pushed onward.

We chuckled as he talked about sleeping on a pallet and trying to make popcorn with empty soda kegs and 2-by-4s. He’s got a new story to tell, for sure.

A storm like this lets you see your own world differently.

During a break in the snow, neighbors would emerge with shovels to start tunneling down driveways. Sometimes only bundled heads were visible. Unseen, we’d shout greetings across the impassable tundra.

Homebound through four snow days from school, my 12-year-old, Ava, has been out climbing and diving on top of snow piles that dwarf her while John has spent hours each day shoveling snow from the cars and driveway, despite the wall of white at the end of it. My 15-year-old son, Shane, has had more iPad time than I care to admit.

Heavy snow on the roof of the house makes us nervous, especially with rain predicted - and we’ll be shoving what we can off reachable parts through a second-floor window.

But the worst seems past. Before dawn Friday, we were awakened by a clear signal of progress: the rumbling and beeping of a frontloader creeping along our street, the first moving vehicle since overnight Monday.

When we got up, we found it had cleared a narrow lane. Driving is still prohibited, but at least we can walk around.

And as I write this, the sun is shining.

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