November 19, 2014

Disaster Relief: NYSUT pledges help for snow-bound members in Buffalo

Author: Liza Frenette
Source:  NYSUT Communications

NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund

buffalo storm

Photo by Joe Cantafio. "After two days of shoveling, we have a path but the street still has over four feet of snow because plows can't get through."

With six feet of snow already on the ground in the Southtowns of Buffalo and parts of the city itself - and with two to three more feet predicted in the next 24 hours - western New York is crippled by a colossal November storm that has closed I90 from Pennsylvania to Rochester.

Cars are trapped on highways. Homes are damaged from the weight of snow. Schools are closed throughout Erie County and will likely remain closed through Friday.

"NYSUT will help our members in any way we can. We will certainly expedite any requests made to the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund for this emergency in western New York," said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee.

Members who need help - or want to make a donation - can go to

"I've been here my whole life and I've never seen anything like this," said Joe Cantafio, West Seneca Teachers Association president and high school social studies teacher. On Wednesday night he was still trapped on his street, which has not been plowed.

He is home with his wife and triplet sons, 13 years of age. He said everyone is exhausted from shoveling after the snow blower broke. It took them four hours to shovel the width and length of a car in the driveway. Not that they could go anywhere.

"By the weekend we'll hit 90-100 inches of snow," Cantafio said. Temperatures are then supposed to rise and rain is predicted.

"If locusts fly down on our street, I'm going to get out the rosary," said Cantafio.

The front and back doors are so heavily banked by snow the only way the family can get out of the house is through the garage door, he said.

"All of us are worried about the rain and this kind of snow. This particular neighborhood has the Buffalo River behind it," he said. In 2013, he said, many NYSUT members were helped by the Disaster Relief Fund when flooding hit West Seneca area.

"We will be there again for our members in rain or snow," said Paul Pecorale, NYSUT vice president. "NYSUT Disaster Relief has helped people in floods, hurricanes and storms.

"There is three to seven feet of snow dumped in a wall across the city, into three counties, and right on top of I90," said Mike Deely, NYSUT regional staff director of the western New York office. The office was open through Wednesday, but was expected to be closed Thursday and Friday as more snow descends.