WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — With clear pavement and melting snow, it’s hard to believe it’s been a week since the deadly blizzard began. After whiteout conditions stranded many, including truckers, one local business mechanic jumped in to help.
“They weren’t happy most of them were scared. It was a scary situation,” said Jeff Schwartz, owner, J&J Truck Wash & Repair.
Scared — the first word that comes to Jeff Schwartz’s mind when reflecting on last week’s deadly blizzard. He and his wife own J&J Truck Wash & Repair in Williamsville.
During that grueling days-long whiteout, he towed stuck semis off the road, sheltering the drivers.
“Unbelievable. that’s all I can say,” Schwartz said. “We couldn’t even plow the snow, we had to use a payloader to get them in. we did it, but we worked Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, almost 24 hours a day, just getting them and getting them started.”
Schwartz and his team worked around the clock in blinding conditions to clear nearby roads of big rigs.
He said many of the drivers were from down south.
“A lot of guys got caught and they didn’t have their trucks prepared for the winter, they were gelling up,” Schwartz added. “You can tell these guys what to do, but nobody listens.”
“Gelling up” was a huge problem for stranded truckers. The arctic temps thickened the diesel and stopped trucks in their tracks. He housed stranded drivers and even helped state police dig out a stuck ambulance.
“A lot of them have loads in their trucks and the reefer are running out of fuel. So, the refrigeration shut down on them and they lost their loads,” said Schwartz.
And Schwarz thinks putting a travel ban in place sooner would’ve been a big help.
“Wherle out here was jammed up with cars and stuff,” he added. “Of course, we had tractor-trailers stuck out there and that jammed them up even worse. Yeah, I think until the roads are clear, they shouldn’t have lifted that ban.”
This of course is one of many stories we’ve heard like this. The manager at Jim’s Truck Stop Restaurant, who declined to go on camera, said they provided food and shelter for more than 100 stranded drivers.