- A single Buffalo, NY dad lost his wife’s ashes to a fire during a historic winter storm.
- Gary Ransom said the fire and storm “took my last of everything”, including his house and his dogs.
- First responders were unable to reach the fire due to heavy snow, her daughter said.
Brianna Ransom, a nurse from Buffalo, NY, was in the midst of a grueling 96-hour shift at the Erie County Medical Center until Christmas when the worst local winter blizzard in nearly 50 years inflicted on her family an immeasurable and compounded loss.
Her father, Gary Ransom, hunkered down with his two young daughters in their home using their stove for warmth Dec. 23 amid a severe winter storm that swept through New York’s Erie County. Christmas weekend and left at least 34 people dead and many are relying on help from strangers to survive.
On Christmas Eve, the family took refuge in a nearby bus station. Hours later, Gary Ransom received a call that his house was on fire.
“There was so much snow they couldn’t get down the street to put out the fire any faster and the house fire hydrant was frozen,” Brianna Ransom told Insider on Wednesday.
It was yet another heartbreaking loss for the father of five, who lost his wife, Keionna Ransom, to complications from COVID-19 in January 2022.
“It saddens me that my father and other people have been affected by the weather,” she said. “This year has been a very bad year for him.”
The “Blizzard of the Century”
On Monday, New York Governor Katy Hochul called the storm “the blizzard of the century.” Erie County officials said at least 34 people died due to wintry weather, according to The Washington Post.
During the fire, her family members were safe at the bus station, but Brianna and her father soon realized they were unable to save the ashes and memories of mother-in-law Keionna Ransom during the fire. fire that destroyed Gary Ransom’s house.
Gary Ransom’s four dogs also did not survive the fire. He and his younger daughters, ages 11 and 13, were able to move into a hotel room, in part because one of Gary Ransom’s jobs was at the hotel.
“He happens to have two jobs, and one of his jobs is as a hotel manager at the Red Roof [Inn]so his CFO offered him the rooms he needed until he didn’t need them anymore,” Brianna Ransom told Insider.
Other residents crowded into a barber shop or needed help from kind-hearted strangers to survive the brutal storm. A Buffalo resident had her Christmas plans turned upside down when she saw a man frozen in the storm, crying out for help, welcoming him and caring for him until he could get to the hospital two days later.
The Ransom family felt the city wasn’t doing enough, but the community did
While speaking with Insider on Wednesday, she said the roads in her father’s former Masten Park in the Buffalo neighborhood are still covered in snow. The breakdown in storm response has sparked feuds between Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County leaders, who have each accused each other of not doing enough, according to The Washington Post.
“The storm happened between Friday and Saturday and it’s Wednesday and they still haven’t gotten into downtown and done any of the things that needed to be done,” Brianna Ransom told Insider. “You know, it makes everything dangerous because if you can’t walk on the sidewalk, it forces you to walk on the street, and there’s snow on the street.”
The Buffalo Police Department did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
In the early days of a GoFundMe she started for her dad, Brianna Ransom raised over $6,200 for her dad’s move. At the fundraiser, Gary Ransom said the fire “took the last of everything”.
“Nothing will be replaced, we lost four dogs in the house fire, we lost my mother-in-law’s ashes, her photos, all of her belongings,” Brianna Ransom told Insider. “It just goes to show that you never know what the community is like until you need it, and they really showed up and showed up for my dad and my sisters and we’ll be forever grateful.”