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CNN Today

Buffalo Resident Discusses Paralyzing Snow Storm

Aired November 21, 2000 - 2:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, two days before Thanksgiving, the city of Buffalo, New York, is trying to lift itself out of a snowy, icy straitjacket. Right now, the city's under a state of emergency, virtually paralyzed after more than two feet of snow fell in less than 24 hours. The governor has called out the national guard to help search for people still trapped in their cars. Many folks, including schoolchildren, had to spend the night in office buildings, hospitals or restaurants, the intensity of the snowstorm catching them by surprise.

The storm dumped much of the snow during late afternoon, into the evening rush hour. And that's why so many people were stranded. One woman finally made it home early this morning after a 13-hour struggle, and we're going to talk with her right now. Kristin Ryan is one the phone with us.

And Kristin, we certainly hope you are snuggled up in a warm home after your ordeal.

Maybe she's so snuggled up she can't even hear us.

Kristin, are you there?

KRISTIN RYAN, BUFFALO RESIDENT: Hi, how are you?

ALLEN: Oh, hi, how are you doing?

RYAN: A little nervous. It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.

ALLEN: Well, tell us how it started for you: Where were you when the storm started to hit?

RYAN: I work at a nursing home in -- which usually takes me 20 minutes to get home. It took me 13 hours. And thank God I was with a friend who also worked with me in the same area. He and I drove, we tried every single route. We actually turned around and tried a different route. We were bumper to bumper. I mean we were not moving. We were sitting in traffic for hours and hours on end.

ALLEN: So you stayed in your car all through the night?

RYAN: All through the night, yes, and we, actually -- we got stuck a ton of times. And people in Buffalo have been so wonderful: Everybody was pushing everybody out, police officers were on the throughway checking abandoned cars who were covered in snow -- I actually saw one police officer pull a woman out of a car -- an elderly women out of her car -- and take her into his car. And he had like six other people in his cop car.

And what else did I see? I saw mothers and fathers carrying their little ones -- I mean like, little babies, probably like six, seven months old -- carrying them, walking them, leaving their cars, abandoning their cars. And it was just a really, really scary sight out there.

ALLEN: Did you ever think of trying to abandon yours and just trying to find shelter somewhere?

RYAN: No, actually, because I was not dressed for the weather at all. I had this skirt on and shoes on, so my best bet was to stay in the car. I had a full tank of gas, and by the time I got home, at 3:00 a.m., I was almost on "E." So I was quite lucky.

ALLEN: That is unreal. What did it feel like when you pulled up to your home this morning?

RYAN: When I pulled up, my husband was waiting at the door for me. It was absolutely wonderful. I just fell in his arms because I haven't eaten -- I hadn't eaten for 15 hours, and I cried. I cried so hard.

ALLEN: Did you have a cell phone or...

RYAN: Actually, the cell phone was sitting at home. Yes, we do have a cell phone, and it was sitting at home. And the girl I was driving with, she kept getting out to call her boyfriend, and I had kept calling, you know -- I had her call my husband. So it was quite an experience driving home.

ALLEN: Well, but as you say, you told us lots of stories of people helping people. I guess, at least, you had the feeling that you weren't alone in all this.

RYAN: No, I can't believe the help that people gave to each other. It was -- it was just unbelievable. And also, we saw firefighters on snowmobiles. People who just owned snowmobiles were taking firefighters to scenes that needed to be addressed with either elderly people or sick people, and the one radio station -- I think it was 93 -- 930 -- it was AM station -- they had, you know, people calling in with emergencies, like diabetics who needed insulin -- there was a 19-year-old girl out on the road going to UV, and her mom was worried because she didn't have any of her diabetes supplies. And it was just -- it was really scary -- very, very scary.

ALLEN: Well, Kristin, we're glad that you're home, finally safe and sound, as many other people finally are now in Buffalo. We thank you so much for talking with us.

RYAN: You're quite welcome.

ALLEN: Thanks, Kristin.

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