March 20, 2023

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Former Maryland legislator rode out massive snowstorm in Buffalo

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Maryland native Bill Bronrott rode out the storm at his new home in Buffalo – even taking in some neighbors who lost power.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Recent storms have dumped snow and ice all over the country. A former Maryland state legislator rode out the blizzard at his home in Buffalo, where storms hit the hardest.

“It sounded like a freight train coming through. And it continued for well over 24 hours. And I’m just amazed that I was able to keep power this entire time,” said Bill Bronrott, a DMV native who is now living in Buffalo, New York.

Bronrott, who was born in D.C. but lived the majority of his life in Maryland, served in the Maryland state legislature representing Montgomery County. He was elected in 1998 and served until 2010 when he left to serve in the Department of Transportation during the Obama administration. 

“They all were thrills and honors of a lifetime,” Bronrott said. “I mean, to be able to represent my native Montgomery County and Bethesda – Chevy Chase area for 12 sessions in Annapolis was beyond my biggest dream and is really a highlight in my life.”

Bronrott, who now lives in the Elmwood Village neighborhood in Buffalo, told WUSA9 that much of his neighborhood lost power, but his lights managed to stay on. He even spent Christmas Eve with neighbors whose power had gone out and he welcomed them into his home to stay warm.

“Three of my neighbors spent Christmas Eve here and made the best of it,” he said. “It probably wasn’t the Christmas morning that they expected, but I made a little breakfast and we had some coffee here. Everybody was warm and feeling, I think, pretty grateful. So it was, it was nice to get to know some of my neighbors a little bit better.”

Buffalo is nicknamed “The city of good neighbors.”

“It is true, and that people of great diversity can come together and help each other out during these holidays, which is, I think, as we all know, the way it ought to be every day,” Bronrott said.

Dozen of people who were not so fortunate died as a result of the storm. 

State and military police were sent Tuesday to keep people off Buffalo’s snow-choked roads, and officials kept counting fatalities three days after western New York’s deadliest storm in at least two generations.

Even as suburban roads and most major highways in the area reopened, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz warned that police would be stationed at entrances to Buffalo and at major intersections because some drivers were flouting a ban on driving within New York’s second-most populous city.

More than 30 people are reported to have died in the region, officials said, including seven storm-related deaths announced Tuesday by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s office. The toll surpasses that of the historic Blizzard of 1977, blamed for killing as many as 29 people in an area known for harsh winter weather.

Bronrott said, “I gotta tell you, I knew we were in trouble when hardcore Buffalonians…as the wind started up and the snow started falling, that they were getting nervous. So if they were getting nervous, I knew that we were probably in for something pretty extraordinary.”

With no TV to watch, Bronrott said all he could do was watch as the blizzard pounded his neighborhood.

“It was really a great curiosity to watch Mother Nature and the enormous force of Mother Nature doing whatever she wants to do, and there’s not much we can do except for some of our usual precautions,” Bronrott said. “So I was just staring out the window for hours. That was my TV. I didn’t have a TV connection, so I just stared out the window and watched Mother Nature do her thing.”

He said now is when the “big dig” gets underway to get people’s homes, cars, and streets uncovered from the snow.

As prepared as he said he was, Bronrott said nothing could have prepared them for how hard the snow hit them. And he said he thinks a lot of people will now go shopping for one specific item following the massive story – a generator.

Bronrott said, “I think initially it was being referred to as the storm of a generation, and it quickly became referred to as a storm of a century.”

The Associated Press contributed to the reporting of this story. 

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