South Buffalo “Shovel Brigade Mob” helps dig out those in need

'Shovel Brigade' tackles snow in South Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Volunteers came with shovels and snowblowers determined to make a difference on Saturday in one of the hardest hit areas of Buffalo.

Hundreds joined the so-called “South Buffalo Shovel Brigade Mob” and fanned out across South Buffalo to lend a hand to residents still snowed in from the deadly Lake Effect storm that rocked parts of western New York this week. South Buffalo was hit especially hard from the storm.

Volunteers from across the area gathered at the Old 1st Ward Community Center on Republic Street. Many volunteers found out about the event on social media.  A website set up by the group also took requests from those in need of help.  By mid-morning volunteers hit the streets armed with shovels.

“I’d probably be dead. Really. This is the worst we’ve ever had out here. And we’ve been here almost 20 years,” said Sandra Hoeckh, a resident of Pomona Place, who welcomed the extra help.

“Not only are we going to be shoveling walkways for them. But even more important than that we’re going to be doing welfare checks,” said Kate Heidinger, a spokesperson for the Shovel Brigade.

“We’re from Buffalo. That’s what we do. Isn’t that what everyone says? It was a good idea. I’m glad we’re doing it,” said Colleen Savage, who gave up her Saturday to volunteer.

On Saturday, there are still parts of the city buried under several feet of snow. Monday, temperatures are expected to reach near 60 but the snow has trapped some residents all week.

Caroline Hurley, one of the volunteers, was stunned to see how high the snow reached in one neighborhood. “There are houses that are still absolutely covered. The front steps, the driveways, everything. So, we’re taking it one house at a time,” she said.

“We couldn’t do it. We’re both older. We just dreaded coming out here trying to do it,” said Mary Gorman whose house had snow cleared away from it on Saturday by the volunteers.

Stacy Vanblarcom says giving up a Saturday to help others in need is the right thing to do. “I live in the city which was one of the areas that wasn’t really affected, and so I wanted to do something that was for the people that who were under feet of snow,” Vanblarcom explained.

When News 4 asked Hurley was asked why she volunteered to shovel heavy snow for people she doesn’t even know, she simply said, “It’s the least that we can do.”

Buffalo, known as “The City of Good Neighbors”, rose to the occasion once again.

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