It was “total chaos” in Brier Hill

Published: Dec. 26, 2022 at 5:52 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BRIER HILL, New York (WWNY) - State Route 37, which runs through Brier Hill, was an easy commute on Monday.

Over the weekend, let’s just say, some didn’t have the same luck.

“Total chaos,” those words from Brier Hill Fire President David Stout.

Stout was one of about 20 volunteers from the department who helped to rescue people stranded in their vehicles.

“They were all the way from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Montreal traveling through. Visibility was zero. Wind was blowing 40 - 50 miles per hour across the roads, snow drifts,” said Stout.

About 40 of those rescued stayed in the Brier Hill Fire Hall over night and another 50 were housed at Hammond’s fire department.

However, getting them there was no small task.

“A lot of the cars were way off the road, snow was waist deep trying to get the people out of the car,” said Stout.

Some local people were still stuck as of Monday, some seen digging out from feet of snow just trying to remove their cars.

Stout says mutual aid volunteers coming from as far as Franklin County, helped in the rescue efforts, using snowmobiles and UTVs to transport people that were stranded.

Tammie Mace and her nephew Matthew, who is from the area but now lives in Alabama, stuck out the storm in Brier Hill. She says it was eye opening.

“My aunt and uncle live over there across the road and you could not see nothing. I mean, it was all a white out. I’ve never seen it that bad,” said Tammie Mace.

Reporter Brendan Straub spoke to the Mace family while they were helping to dig others out, a task Matthew says he was ready to do when he landed back in the North Country.

“You know, going from 80 degrees to 10 degrees and snow, I like it, it’s a good change of pace, and I didn’t think I would be spending this much time shoveling but ah, it’s alright. you know people need it,” said Matthew Mace.

As many people know, lake effect conditions can be pretty unpredictable. Just north in Brier Hill, it wasn’t snowing and in Hammond, it was coming down pretty good.

Stout says over the weekend, because of the conditions, a trip between the two took almost an hour when it normally lasts about 5 minutes.

St. Lawrence County Director of Emergency Services Matt Denner says although Brier Hill and Hammond may have been hit the hardest, other communities also stepped up.

“We also had stranded motorists in Raymondville, Norfolk, Gouverneur, and those departments also got out and made rescues and brought people in, you know, or got them to family members. So I mean to take away, the community itself is great,” said Denner.

Denner says he couldn’t possibly put a number out yet as to how many emergency calls they took, but he does says it felt non-stop. He went on to say at there were several times when all 4 of their dispatchers were taking calls at the same time and some spent more than 24 hours at work, taking naps on cots when they could.