Families prayed for a miracle, knowing their loved ones were trapped in their cars for days as a record-breaking blizzard paralyzed Buffalo, New York, with sub-zero temperatures and blinding snow.
At Anndel Taylor’s house on Sunday night, a Christmas feast, filled with the 22-year-old’s favorite dishes — macaroni and cheese, spiralized pork and ham — remained intact on the table.
In a nearby house, the food also got cold like edie sita And his brother received news that his 73 years breast, Stasia Jóźwiak, who drove to the supermarket on Friday, would never return.
“You hope for the best and you want the best, and everyone prays and everyone wants a miracle, and it doesn’t turn out that way,” Syta said through tears.
At least 64 people in the US have died in the blizzard that wreaked havoc in at least a dozen states, according to an NBC News tally. Erie County, New York, accounted for more than half the death toll at 33, including 28 in Buffalo, authorities said.
Among the dead in Erie County were many who died of heart problems while shoveling or blowing snow, County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. The “once-in-a-lifetime” storm, Poloncarz added, also killed many people in their cars.
On Friday afternoon, Jóźwiak wanted to buy fresh fish to prepare a traditional Polish meal for Christmas Eve, but his red Chevy Cobalt got stuck in a snowdrift, Syta said.
Jóźwiak asked for prayers when she spoke to her daughter around 7 p.m. At the time, she had been stuck in her car for about five hours.
“She said, ‘I need a miracle from God. Can you please pray for me?’ She said that she loved me. I told her that she loved her too,” Syta said. “I told her, ‘Hold on tight. We come from you.'”
Syta and her husband tried to pull out their truck to rescue her, but even their four-wheeler with snow tires couldn’t get anywhere.
When Jóźwiak stopped answering his phone about two hours later, her daughter called the police several times, as well as the National Guard, the telephone company, storm hotlines and any friends you could think of that could possibly help.
Syta’s wife spent hours on foot trying to find Jóźwiak, but was unsuccessful.
At Christmas, Syta’s friends, who loved Jóźwiak and called her “Mama”, set out to take her home. Around 8 pm, they found Jóźwiak’s red Chevy and her body inside it.
“It was a shock,” Syta said. “I go through my emotions like a roller coaster.”
“I don’t want to believe it,” he said twice.
‘We still feel powerless’
Anndel Taylor, who was weeks shy of her 23rd birthday, was driving home from her nursing home aide job Friday afternoon when sweltering conditions turned dangerous and her car got stuck in the snow, her office said. family.
Taylor called police but had no choice but to wait inside her car, which she kept running to warm up, her mother, Wanda Brown Steele, said.
Taylor last spoke to her older sister shortly after midnight, telling her over the phone that she would go to sleep and try to walk to safety in the morning.
Two days later, on Christmas night, a family friend found Taylor’s car, which was still running, and broke a window. He found Taylor dead in the reclined driver’s seat.
“I’m fine for a minute, then I realize it,” Brown Steele said, adding that the image of his daughter’s frozen body sucks the oxygen out of the room.
“That tore me apart. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t breathe,” she said.
Taylor had moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Buffalo in early 2020 to be with her diabetic father and finish college, where she was studying business administration.
His father, Handel Taylor, said that on days he went out for dialysis, Taylor would rub his legs and put on his socks and shoes. In the mornings, she would often hang his hair over him, tickling his sleeping face until he woke up.
“When I open my eyes, I see her standing next to me,” he said. “She Sometimes she’d laugh at me. Sometimes she’d say, ‘Get out of my room.'”
He chuckled as he recalled the happy memories he had with his daughter, especially in the last two years they lived together.
In August, when the family went to the state fair, Taylor asked her father to join her on the merry-go-round. At 51, she didn’t want to, but she jumped on board anyway.
“All the kids were looking at me. That was embarrassing,” she said. “I wanted her to be happy.”
Taylor was an entrepreneur, determined to finish school, save enough money to buy a house, and open a business with her brother.
“She had plans. She was doing it,” her mother said. “She got further than anyone, including me.”
In the snowy Buffalo house Taylor called home, there’s not much to do except mourn her.
“Everywhere in the house, everyone sees her face,” said Taylor’s stepmother, Lasheena Smith. “We still feel powerless.”