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Hard-hit Cheektowaga neighborhood braces for Round Two

By midafternoon Wednesday, a gray twilight fell upon the Cheektowaga-Lancaster border as storm clouds began to drop more snow in a neighborhood walloped perhaps the hardest by the colossal late-autumn snowstorm.

“Here comes Round Two,” said a weary 21-year-old Muki Huzejrovic of Losson Road.

He paused from shoveling his parents’ driveway and pointed a frustrated finger at the dark clouds.

If weather forecasts prove accurate, 2 more feet of snow will have dropped overnight – the last thing residents here needed.

How about some eggs to satisfy their hunger and what about a brew or two to combat cabin fever?

“You crave the things you don’t have. I want some eggs,” said Kim Eberle, who stood on Losson Road at the foot of Philip Drive, watching as her son Jim and his girlfriend, Tahanni Kaid, more interested in beer, set off on their quest for an open store.

All around, the engines of snowblowers roared, but their horsepower often proved futile against snow that police said had piled as high as 6 feet in this section of Buffalo Niagara.

A couple of miles away on Union Road, a roof had caved in at a commercial property earlier Wednesday. And in the winding suburban subdivisions off Losson Road, a wall of a house had buckled.

So you’d better believe that the residents here were paying attention to the giant drifts of snow piled upon the tops of their own homes. Deceptively, each house was a Rembrandt of rooftop beauty.

Howling winds had sculpted the drifts into brows that reached down past the eaves, as if longing to meet up with drifts upon the ground.

And each rooftop also was an avalanche waiting to happen.

“I’m worried about this,” said Marilyn Smisdeck, standing outside her Barbados Drive home and pointing her snow shovel up to some 4 feet of snow threatening to topple down upon her.

Other than that, Smisdeck said, everything was just fine and she returned to shoveling, trying to carve a walkway to her snow-buried driveway.

At another nearby house, a driveway was scraped clean, almost to the pavement, and an SUV, brushed free of the drifts that had blanketed it, appeared ready to be driven.

But where?

The driveway terminated at a wall of snow. The SUV seemed to cry out: “Look at me, all cleaned up and no place to drive!”

Further along Barbados Drive, Mike Lackie trudged home after a two-day exile imposed by the storm.

He blazed his own trail, often sinking hip-high or deeper, as he huffed and puffed down the center of the street, where it will take the steel buckets of high-loaders and a steady flow of dump trucks to haul away the snow and reconnect the residents to civilization.

Lackie’s home is less than a half-mile from Losson Road, but it might as well have been a hundred miles. It seemed to take forever for the 57-year-old retired truck driver to arrive at his home on Barbados.

Often, he stopped to chat with neighbors who were eager to hear news from the outside world.

Yes, Losson Road was open. So were Union and Transit roads. Many stores remained closed, but a few were open.

And how was it that he was away from home when the storm hit?

“I went with my friend Monday night to do some plowing,” Lackie said of what he thought would be a few hours of fun, but turned into a nightmare.

For hours they sat in the pickup truck on impassable roads out in Orchard Park, but finally inched their way homeward.

“When we got to Transit Road, we were stuck for six hours,” Lackie said. “By late Tuesday morning, we made it back to my friend’s house in Depew,” Lackie said.

With the threat of more snow, he decided late Wednesday morning that it was time to make his way home, even if it meant hoofing the final leg of the journey. His snowplow buddy had dropped him off at Losson and Philip Drive, which connects to Barbados.

And as he waded through the snow, Lackie realized how isolated they all were and that if someone experienced a medical emergency it could prove fatal.

“I have an 86-year-old mother-in-law living next door to me and down the block there’s a 90-year-old woman,” he said of the precarious situation.

After an hour of trudging, he arrived to find his 27-year-old son, Justin, trying to clear a section of their driveway. It was good to be home, but Lackie was already thinking of the elderly neighbors and how he could help.

“The 90-year-old woman has one of those high-efficiency furnaces with the pipe that comes out of the foundation,” he said. “I’m going to shovel away the snow so that it can vent properly.”

Lackie had seamlessly slipped into action mode, like so many other neighbors in this snow-crippled region. The desire to help had overpowered the call of the couch. The army of so many do-gooders had added yet another volunteer.