As we noted yesterday, the historic blizzard that hit western New York over the past week has revealed the goodness in the hearts of the people of Buffalo.
Being natives of Buffalo and veterans of snowstorms, Jessica Sypniewski and Samuel Lebron believed they, along with their two kids, could make a quick run outside to pick up some family when the storm began. It would only be a short trip, they said, to make the typically twenty-minute trip to North Tonawanda and back to West Seneca before the blizzard began.
They were wrong, and it may have cost them their lives if not for good workers at a local Target.
“It came sooner and heavier than we thought it would,” she told The Buffalo News. “Being Buffalonians, we had thought, ‘Oh, this is just another storm.’ ”
Wind gusts began getting stronger on the return trip home, forcing them onto side streets, where they eventually found themselves in white-out conditions, trying to find their bearings on GPS. After an hour and a half, they made it into the Target Plaza on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga. They knocked at a grocery store and asked if they could come inside, but they were turned away. They all began to panic.
Then, they tried Target. Not only did workers at the door welcome them inside, they handed Sypniewski a steaming cup of Starbucks hot cocoa and threw a blanket over her shoulders. Seats and portable heaters were waiting nearby.
“I got so emotional, I just sat down and started crying,” Sypniewski said. “You never know. People could have died. I truly believe they saved lives.”
“Sypniewski said she used a mapping app on her phone to find the nearby Target plaza in Cheektowaga, another suburb of Buffalo. She said her group of six first stopped at a grocery store in the shopping center, but employees would not let them inside. However, the Target store next door welcomed them.
‘When we first got there, I felt so relieved,’ she said. ‘I started crying, and that was seriously a life-and-death situation out there.’
Sypniewski said seven Target employees and six other people were already sheltering inside the store when her family arrived. She said that by Christmas Eve, about 30 people sought refuge at the big-box store.
She shared images of their in-store holiday on social media, showing people resting on inflatable mattresses from the camping section and laying their heads on pillows from the home goods department. In one picture, a group of people can be seen waiting at the in-store Starbucks for warm drinks as the winter storm raged outside,” a local Fox station wrote.
Fox Business reported, “At one point on Christmas Eve, the Target staff opened up a television and put the Buffalo Bills game on so the locals could watch their team defeat the Chicago Bears.
It wasn’t until Christmas Day that the area surrounding the store was dug out and people could return home.
‘Thanks to the compassion and quick thinking of the team members at our Walden Galleria store, they were able to provide shelter to those who were stranded, and also offered care, comfort and holiday cheer,’ Mark Schindele, Target’s executive vice president and chief stores officer, told FOX Business in a statement.
‘Their actions are a living example of Target’s values and we are thankful to have been able to assist those in need,’ he said.”
[Read More: Tour Bus Gets Caught In Blizzard, Family Opens Doors To 10 Strangers]