We asked Buffalo News readers on Facebook to share their memories of the October Surprise, the early snowstorm of 2006 that toppled trees and power lines and left thousands of people in the area without power and heat for days.
Karen Wakowiak recalls: I was 6 months pregnant on my way to the airport with my Mom to catch a flight to visit my brother in Atlanta. Unfortunately, our flight was canceled and my Mom and I went back to her house in Cheektowaga. I spent the night at my Mom's and all I heard all evening was cracking sounds from tree limbs breaking and power lines snapping. When I woke in the morning, these are the pictures I took. Some of them are pictures of my car buried from the tree limbs.
Georgia Ehrmann shared photos she took on Parkhaven Drive in Amherst the morning of Oct. 13, 2006:
This is what we woke up to on that October storm morning. This was taken on Parkhaven Drive in Amherst in the middle of our street! Trees were down everywhere and we ended up without power for days. Our neighbors across the street were on a different power grid and ended up without power for 9 days...We ran power cords across the street so they could run their sump pumps, refrigerators and a light source. The only thing wrong with running the power cords across the street? When the plows finally made it down our street after all the trees were removed they kept cutting through the power cords with their plow blades...!"
Rather than a snow day, many kids and teens got a "Snow Week" in October 2006.
Paula Austin, on Facebook, recalls: I was teaching fifth grade at the time. When the first flakes started to fly, my kids all gathered at the window and started dreaming of a snow day. I ushered them back to their seats and told them that it wouldn't even stick to the ground let alone leave enough for a day off. One kid said "maybe we will get a huge storm and lots of days off." Being sure that it would amount to nothing, I told them "I'm so confident that this is just a flurry that if we get a snow day, I will give you all a 100 on tomorrow's math test." Needless to say, I ate my words that day! When we finally came back to school 10 days later, 21 very happy fifth graders got a 100 averaged into their math grade."
Jess Urban: I had just moved to Buffalo that year. I worked in Clarence but lived in North Buffalo. Took almost three hours to get home and it was a crazy drive. Overall it made me fall in love with the city of good neighbors though. The people I worked with all banded together to help others dig their cars out and we all called one another to make sure we got home safe. It's a story I'll never forget that's for sure!
Kathy Beiswanger: Bizarre time! No power for 9 days! Managed with cooking on grill, gas fireplace, candles... got kinda used to it after a while.. our wonderful neighbors all helped such a great bunch of folks. It was a little sad when the power came on and the TV noise, vacuuming, power saws started! It was like indoor camping. If we could live together thru that I think we can get thru anything together.
Amber Britton: My daughter was a month old, in-laws were visiting and were to catch a train that day. We had no power, on the first attempt to the train station husband gets stuck and had to be towed out by a helpful police officer.... Long story short got in-laws to the train station, found a hotel with power south of town (and no snow I might add) finally get the baby and dog settled for the night before we realized it was our 5th wedding anniversary.
Suzanne Eveleigh Montalalou: I had just completed my last day at one job, and because of power being out at day care, was unable to start my new job on the first day I was scheduled. Then my son showed me spots all over his abdomen that turned out to be chicken pox, so I was further delayed such that my new boss asked me, "Do you really want this job?" I started the following week.
Betty Neal: Had just sold our home in July, moved into my Dad's home to get it ready for sale as he had gone into a retirement home. Our new condo was not going to be ready for occupancy until Oct. 25th....remember sitting in the bay window listening to the snap of tree branches falling, power going out and lighting a fireplace that smelled really awful to try and keep warm. Discovered when the building inspector came through Dad's house before the sale, he condemned the fireplace.
Scott Wilson: Delivered pizzas from 10 am until power finally went out around 9 pm, it was like being in a movie or a video game, alternately fun and then scary as hell, trees falling in front of me, a large branch coming down on top of my truck as I drove, looking back, all in all it was a blast!
Ann M. Pardi Romosz: I married my love that weekend right in the heart of the city of Buffalo. Despite no power and many obstacles, every vendor came through and I even went home in a horse-drawn carriage. The details are miraculous and I'm honored by my friends and family that pulled together in that difficult time to make our day absolutely perfect ❤️. Forever grateful...
Steven Cottrell: I know alot of people went thru alot during that time, but for me it was a blast! I never lost power or heat, had plenty of food and drink, had about 4 days off of work, hope we get another one this year!
Elizabeth Knaus: I was spending time with my future husband (We didn't know that at the time) at his apartment. We had no power and so we lit candles and he had a kerosene space heater. And we just brought the mattress out of the bedroom and into the living room. And we just snuggled until the power went back on. Lol
Lauren Smith: Oh God, I remember that year. That was my senior year, I was getting my senior pictures done, next thing I know, it starts snowing and it didn't stop. We lost power, had to stay at my Aunt's house in Akron for a night and borrowed power from my neighbor (he had a generator, we didn't.) NOT FUN.
Linda Dzielski: Remember it took me 3 hours to get home then I had no power for 2 weeks. It was horrible. Just moved into my house too. Never be able to forget that.
Cynthia Caldwell: Such a frightening event for so many! I live north of the area....we were ok! Took a ride afterward and could not believe the damage 😩
Craig Nachreiner: I was in Vegas and when I turned on the news they showed a plane pointing up. I said to myself that's Buffalo, then across the screen it said Buffalo airport.
Marci Ann: I was working the midnight shift in ER Registration at Mercy Hospital when people from the next shift started calling off ...had NO IDEA what was going on until security came to notify us. Finally got out at 11am and my 93 Ford Tempo made it straight from the hospital to Hamburg in an hour!
Russ Cambria: This infamous storm occurred during our very first fall in Buffalo. We will NEVER forget it. Crazy! We now live back in Las Vegas, but tell the story often. That was insane. ALTHOUGH...it was during this storm that we found out how awesome Buffalonians are because everyone was outside helping one another dig out and we were even walking to the grocery stores for one another. We loved our 5 years of Buffalo! Go BILLS!
Charles Gallagher: I left to work in Florida the day before the storm. The temp was in the low 60s. Who wudda thunk it.
Kathy Voss: And here in Niagara County we had.... nothing! I could not get to work in Buffalo - but here at home we had zilch.
Skip Beckwith: I remember how our little street worked together, helped each other, spent time together, enjoyed each others company, then ventured out to help others.
Janel Sealander, Kate Petronsky: I will always remember we were hanging out that night. We made a snow woman!
Jake Lodico: Spent lots of time listening to the Sabres games on a crank powered radio.
Many parts of Erie County were unaffected by the storm:
Liann Burgos-Smith: I lived in Angola where nothing happened. I mean we got rain but the power lines are underground so, nothing big. I went to Hilbert at the time and it was closed that day.