NEWS

Buffalo snowstorm left basketball team stuck 24 hours on a bus

11/19/2014 08:30 EST | Updated 01/19/2015 05:59 EST
A women's university basketball team spent more than 24 hours stuck aboard a bus outside Buffalo, N.Y., on Tuesday after a record storm walloped the area with more than a metre of snow.

Members of the Niagara University Purple Eagles basketball team, based in Lewiston, N.Y.,were travelling back from a game in Pittsburgh on Monday night when they awoke at 2 a.m. Tuesday to see the bus had stopped dead on a snowy highway littered with stranded vehicles. 

"We woke up to find that we weren't moving any more because the storm was so bad," player Kelly Van Leeuwen of Brantford, Ont., said Wednesday in a telephone interview with CBC News Network.

"It had backed all the way up the highway and we couldn't get off."

Van Leeuwen is one of two Canadian Purple Eagles players on the team. Forward Victoria Rampado of Niagara Falls, Ont., was also on the bus.

The horrid weather is part of a ferocious storm that has dumped massive piles of snow in parts of upstate New York, including more than 150 centimetres in parts of Buffalo.

Van Leeuwen said the situation for her basketball team wasn't dire.

She and her teammates kept each other company, and the idling bus had heat and power for their phones, which they used to keep in touch with worried relatives at home.

"We had a few drinks and snacks that we had taken for our trip, but other than that, we were stranded there," she said.  "We were pretty lucky and kept reminding ourselves of that."

They were starting to run low on water when a rescue team arrived on snowmobiles to deliver them some more.

"As we realized that the situation was getting more serious, it got a little bit nervous but we were still positive," said Van Leeuwen.

The team was rescued from the bus and didn't get back on campus until about 6 a.m. Wednesday.

"We just arrived on campus where there is no snow. It's quite a difference coming from a whiteout blizzard to almost no snowfall at all. It's going to be an interesting story to look back on."

After the team was rescued, Rampado tweeted: "We have been rescued, thank you so much to everyone who prayed for us we appreciate it! HOME BOUND."

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