Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino is reopening at 10 am on Thursday. It was shuttered for almost six days due to a deadly blizzard that brought Buffalo, N.Y., to a standstill.
Table games will resume at 12 pm. The parlay replay drawing scheduled for earlier this week will be held at 5 pm on Thursday.
The upstate New York casino closed at 1 pm on Friday, December 23, two days before Christmas.
Employees and guests had no choice but to leave the complex so the property could close.
Among those who needed to leave was the husband of local minister Adrea Newbern-O’Reiley. She drove to the casino on Friday morning to get him and drive him home. She gave a ride to some others at the casino, too.
“They thought the casino would be a safe haven because they knew it to be a 24-hour establishment,” she later recounted.
But on the way home, driving was treacherous.
Their vehicle got stranded in a snow drift and they became fearful for their lives. Nine hours later, a good Samaritan dug them out.
Then, a kind-hearted person got them a hotel room so they could have a safe, warm place to ride out the blizzard.
“This blizzard here was like no other blizzard,” she told Spectrum News. “To be out in it, I felt like we were in a whole different place.”
Nearby, Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls also shuttered on Christmas Eve after it became apparent employees could not safely make it to work. But as conditions improved, the decision was made to reopen its gaming floor.
Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino in Salamanca remained open, though some restaurants and bars at the property suspended operations.
Buffalo’s driving ban on local roads is finally being lifted on Thursday. A travel advisory remains in place.
This week, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the county may take over Buffalo’s snow cleaning in the future.
The mayor’s not going to be happy to hear about it, but storm after storm after storm after storm, the City, unfortunately, is the last one to be opened and that shouldn’t be the case,” Poloncarz said. “It’s embarrassing, to tell you the truth.”
More than four feet of snow left multiple vehicles stranded throughout Buffalo. Many roads still are covered in part by snow.
At least 37 people died during the treacherous weather in Erie County. Most were in Buffalo. Many perished outside.
The driving ban in the City of Buffalo will be LIFTED effective Thursday, December 29, 2022 at 12:01AM.
The ban will be replaced with a TRAVEL ADVISORY. pic.twitter.com/WhYsZVUiUV
— Buffalo Common Council (@BFLO_CC) December 29, 2022
Emergency services were often curtailed during the blizzard. Ambulances couldn’t reach many residences because of the unplowed streets, and police couldn’t respond to many routine calls and burglaries.
Criminals seized the opportunity to loot numerous businesses, including a well-known local grocery store that saw about $250K worth of damage during a looting spree, CNN reported.
The region’s airport was closed for several days until Wednesday. Even with the reopening, many flights at Buffalo Niagara International Airport were canceled.
(Nationally, flights continue to be canceled or delayed. Some 196 flights were cancelled for Thursday at Las Vegas’s Harry Reid International Airport as of 4 am PT, FlightAware reported. There were at least 25 delays at the airport as of 4 am.)
Back in Buffalo, some residents remained without power for four days while local police, firefighters, EMTs, and public works crews risked their lives to reach those in need when they could.
As temperatures rise, personnel will do wellness checks in city neighborhoods. The National Guard will check every house in those neighborhoods that lost electricity, CNN reported. EMS crews will do checks, too.
It is possible more victims will be found deceased, officials warned this week.
Questions arose, too, if the city or county waited too long to implement a driving ban or take other precautions.
Some 100 military police were assigned to Buffalo following the blizzard. State police also assisted in emergency efforts.
Elsewhere, Michigan’s Gun Lake Casino reopened on Sunday following a two-day closure because of the extreme winter weather. The Wayland, Mich. casino shuttered at 7 pm on Friday and reopened at 10 am on Christmas Day.
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