Briarhill, New York (WWNY) – State Route 37 through Briarhill was convenient for my Monday commute.
Let’s just say that over the weekend, some didn’t have the same luck.
“Complete chaos,” said David Stout, president of Briar Hill Fire.
Stout was one of about 20 volunteers in the department who helped rescue people stranded in their cars.
“They had traveled all the way from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Montreal. There was zero visibility. There were 40 to 50 mph winds across the road and it was roaring snow,” Stout said.
About 40 people rescued stayed overnight at the Briar Hill Fire Station, and another 50 were housed at Hammond’s Fire Station.
But getting them was no easy task.
“A lot of cars were off the road, waist-deep in snow, trying to get people out of their cars,” Stout said.
Some locals were still stranded as of Monday, while others were seen digging out from under the snow in an attempt to remove their cars.
Stout said mutual aid volunteers from Franklin County assisted in the rescue effort, using snowmobiles and UTVs to transport stranded people.
Tammy Mace and her nephew Matthew, who hail from the area and now live in Alabama, weathered the storm in Briar Hill. She says it was an eye opener for her.
“My aunt and uncle lived over there and couldn’t see anything. I mean it was all whiteout. I’ve never seen anything that bad,” said Tammy Mace.
Reporter Brendan Straub spoke while helping the Mace family unearth the others.
“I like it when it snows 80 to 10 degrees. It’s a nice change of pace. I didn’t think I’d spend this much time shoveling snow, but it’s okay. I know people need it.” I guess,” said Matthew Mace.
As many of us know, lake effect conditions are pretty unpredictable. It wasn’t snowing just north of Briar Hill, but it was snowing heavily in Hammond.
According to Stout, this weekend it took almost an hour to travel between the two, which are normally five minutes apart, because of the weather.
Matt Denner, Director of St. Lawrence County Emergency Services, said Briar Hill and Hammond may have been hit hardest, but other communities have also strengthened.
“We also had stranded drivers in Raymondville, Norfolk, and Gouverneur, and those departments also came out and rescued them, brought people in, brought them back to their families. That’s it,” said Denner.
Denner says he can’t give a number just yet as to how many emergency calls they’ve received, but he said it felt like it wouldn’t stop. He said there were several occasions when everyone was on the phone at the same time, and some spent more than 24 hours at work, taking naps in cots when possible.
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