Blizzard of '77
On Friday, January 28, 1977 at 11:30am, a severe blizzard hit Western New York. The blizzard struck with little warning and continued for several days. A very snowy December and January had already left a great deal of powdery snow on the frozen Lake Erie and the forty-five mile per hour winds with gusts to 79 miles per hour created near zero visibility and caused drifts that made roads impassable. Some drifts even reached the second story of some homes. Temperatures hovering below minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit only worsened the situation.
The Town Line Volunteer Fire Department was activated to assist stranded motorists and quickly set up both our Station 1 and Station 2 to house these people. Our records show at least 91 stranded motorists were at our stations. Many residents and firefighters offered snowmobiles to help and they were used with sleds to answer emergency calls, and the Ladies Auxiliary and firefighter wives helped in preparing food and coffee as well as answering phones. A doctor was stranded at our station and assisted the fire department with first aid and the fire department transported a nurse by snowmobile to the Erie County Home on Walden Avenue in Alden. The department also assisted the Town of Lancaster Police in transporting officers to a burglary call on Town Line Road. A few hundred other snowmobile runs with medicine, food, and emergency assistance were answered through February 4th.
The old Engine #2 was equipped with chains and used to shuttle medicine from the Village of Lancaster to the Village of Alden, and Lancaster Supervisor Stanley J. Keysa asked Town Line to use our Tanker truck to "freeze" a snow drift about 40 feet high on Erie and Pavement to prevent drifting from the winds. It turned out somewhat successful, however it took two hours to thaw out both our tanker truck and the firefighters when they returned.
National Guard troops were sent to Western New York to provide assistance and President Jimmy Carter declared the area a Federal Disaster Area, thereby allowing for reimbursement of funds for emergency supplies, repairs, and storm cleanup.
While it was a very trying week for both the fire department and our community, we have heard many good memories over the years that came from the storm. Below are just a few photos from that week.