Abdul Sharif, 26, braved a snowstorm and left his home in Buffalo Saturday afternoon to pick up milk and other supplies. He never came back.
Sharif was one of at least 39 people to die in Erie County, N.Y., as the winter storm buried Buffalo in nearly 52 inches of snow and trapped residents at home — power outages due to snowstorms over Christmas weekend , many without heating.
Most of those killed were found outside or in their homes, while others died in vehicles after delays to emergency medical services and cardiac arrest while clearing snow, officials said.
Those lost were loving mothers, daughters, sons and, in Sharif’s case, an open-hearted, beaming, expectant father.
His wife, Gloria Mawazo, who is pregnant and a few days away from giving birth, told his cousin, Ally Sharifu, that her husband left for A family turned to him to buy food.
Ally Sharifu said she advised him not to leave until he lay down for a nap around noon. When she woke up that night, her husband was not home.
After sharing his photo on Facebook, the family received a call saying a man was rushed to a children’s hospital after being found lying in the street, where Ellie, who identified his cousin’s body the next morning, Sharif said. The men were refugees from Congo who resettled in the United States in 2017 after spending about five years in a Burundian refugee camp, he said.
While Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said at a news conference Wednesday that Abdul went out to buy food for his pregnant wife, the family believes he was actually shopping for another family —This is typical of him.
“My cousin is so kind. When you call him to help you, he helps you,” said Ally Sharifu, who shares a home with his cousin and his wife. “That’s why he went outside to get milk, because he doesn’t care what it looks like outside, and he will find ways to help you.”
Ally Sharifu said the family has not yet heard from the hospital or authorities what led to Abdul’s death.
Ally Sharifu said Abdul was “happy to be a father” and was saving to buy a house. Abdul said he worked as a machine operator at a manufacturing plant in Cheektowaga.
Abdul’s parents died in the 2002 civil war in Congo, Enock Rushikana, a close friend of Abdul’s family, told CNN.
“He grew up as an orphan, so he had a dream of going back and helping children who lost their parents in the civil war,” Rushikana said. “He was an angel in our community. We nicknamed him ‘911’ because he was happy to help whoever called him.”
Monique Alexander is considered a superwoman by her daughter, Casey Maccarone. But even so, Maccarone was concerned when Alexander, 52, decided to go out on Christmas Eve.
On any other day, it would have been an easy decision, but here comes the blizzard.
Two hours later, when she hadn’t returned, Maccarone asked on the Buffalo blizzard’s Facebook page if anyone had seen her mom, she said.
Minutes later, a stranger texted her and asked to call her, Maccarone said.
“He just started crying right away,” she said. “He was also trapped, and he was walking down the street, and he saw her in the snow. So, he picked her up and put her under the awning…so that she wouldn’t be covered in snow again.
“Her grandchildren are waiting for her to come home,” she added. “We’re waiting for her to come home.”
Alexander has been through big winds and waves before, and she goes everywhere.
“She always felt … invincible, so I’m assuming she just thought she could handle the situations,” Maccarone said. “Can’t really tell my mom anything, she’ll do what she wants. I’m assuming she just thinks she’s strong enough.”
Maccarone said the family had lost a pillar and a person they could turn to for everything.
“My kids lost their grandmother, the most important role in her life…to be a good grandmother,” she said. “Now they only have memories.”
Demetrius Robinson, a 58-year-old carpenter, was found in a snowdrift the day before his birthday, his sister Elizabeth Rodolph told CNN.
“Such a lovely person has disappeared from our lives,” Rudolph said. “He was the kindest, gentlest, sweetest, happiest person you’ll ever meet.”
Robinson’s family became concerned after he could not be reached last Friday, she said. They went to his home earlier this week, but a call to the coroner’s office gave them answers they didn’t want. His body was taken there on Sunday.
Rudolph said she wasn’t sure what Robinson was doing outside or how long his body had been in the snow before it was found.
She said he loves sharing his culinary passion.
“He loved cooking. He was always inviting the neighborhood kids who were playing outside to eat whatever he made. He treated everyone like family,” Rudolph said.
He leaves behind a son and a daughter.
Robinson’s son, Marqll Daniels, described his father as his role model and hero.
“I always looked up to Dad in a lot of things. He was always talking to me about being a good guy. He had a really big heart,” Daniels said.
Melissa Morrison was spotted in the snow near Tim Hortons Cafe in Buffalo.
Her mother, Linda Addeo, was found after her son saw a social media post on Friday that a body had been found near Morrison’s coffee shop. Addeo said the coroner’s office confirmed to her family Tuesday that the body was that of Morrison, a 46-year-old mother of two from Buffalo.
Addeo said the family wasn’t sure what Morrison was doing outside. She left behind two sons.
“Today is the most devastating day of our lives as we lost our beautiful daughter in the storm,” Linda Ardio wrote on Facebook Tuesday after learning of her death.
She added, “I don’t know what to do or what to do and I’ll never be the same again.”
Morrison is a native Buffalo, homemaker and mother.
“She’s a young, beautiful person. She’s outgoing and fun. She’ll do anything for anybody,” Addeo said.
Anndel Taylor, a 22-year-old woman who grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, stayed in touch with her family there during the final hours of the storm.
She was found dead after being trapped in her car during a snowstorm, her family told CNN on Tuesday.
Taylor’s relatives said she was driving home from get off work at a senior center a six-minute drive from her home when she was trapped, and went wild when they lost contact with her.
Taylor sent a video to her sister group chat around 3 p.m. Friday, Tomeia Brown, one of Taylor’s older sisters, told CNN. In the video, Taylor captured the snow and the snow-covered conditions. Brown said she told her sisters who live in North Carolina that she was stuck and the snow kept falling.
Taylor called 911 and was waiting for emergency responders, Taylor’s mother Brown and Wanda Brown Steele told CNN.
“Her plan was to wait until the police got there,” her sister said. But if that fails, she plans to “get up and walk as soon as her car runs out of gas.”
In the early hours of Christmas Eve, Taylor would send her final video message in the group chat. In it, Taylor opens the driver’s side window of her car, revealing a road that turns into a barren snowy wasteland. Taylor texted in the chat that she thought snow might be up to her waist if she got out of the car.
After tracking her cell phone to an address, Brown posted the information to a private Facebook page called Buffalo Blizzard 2022 for help. Later that night, she received a call from an unknown man. “He let us know he checked her pulse and there was no pulse,” Brown said.
“I really don’t believe it,” she said. “It was like a tingling in my stomach, a pain I’ve never felt before.”
Taylor’s body wasn’t removed from the car until the next day, Brown said, after a woman posted a message on Facebook letting Brown know she had also found the car and her sister’s body.
With first responders unable to reach the car, the woman waited until relatives of Taylor, who lived in Buffalo, arrived. They all helped move Taylor’s body to another vehicle before she was taken to the hospital, Brown said.
Taylor was described by her sister as “a caring and nurturing person”.
“If she can help, she will,” her mother said.
Taylor turns 23 next month, Brown said.