The blizzard that clobbered Buffalo made for a terrible commute home for tens of thousands of people Monday – including a little kindergartner who spent more than three hours on her school bus.
Milan Hill, 5, who goes to West Buffalo Charter School on Lafayette Avenue, usually gets off the bus at the YMCA on William Street at 4:15 p.m.
Her mother, Orniece Hill, anticipated the bus might be a little late because of the winter storm.
“I figured with the weather, I will just go and wait there,” Hill said.
She waited in her car for a half hour before she called the school bus company, First Student.
“They said the bus was in traffic,” Hill said.
She understood. Then another hour went by.
“What is going on?” she demanded, calling back.
“She is still in traffic,” the bus company said.
Hill asked where the bus was stuck. She wanted to go get her little daughter.
“I’ll meet the bus,” the worried mother offered, growing increasingly anxious about her daughter’s whereabouts.
“Far away,” she was told.
But this time the company took her number. They called back a little while later and said the bus was finally out of traffic and was on Swan Street.
It took another half hour, but the bus finally showed up at 7:25 p.m.
Milan, the last child on the bus, came bounding down the steps.
“She ran and hugged me,” Hill said. “She was like: ‘Oh my goodness, I thought you left me.’”
That was heartbreaking for Hill to hear. Her daughter also complained that her hands were cold.
“It was kind of scary,” Hill said. “You’re thinking all kinds of things.”
Because Hill had sat in her car waiting for the bus for so long, she hadn’t had time to make dinner Monday. So she stopped at McDonald’s to feed her famished daughter.
Milan didn’t seem too traumatized by the ordeal, her mother said after they were settled back in their home downtown. After all, today is going to be a snow day for Milan and thousands of other schoolchildren in Buffalo. With no school, the girl knew she could stay up late.
“We can watch movies and eat popcorn!” she told her mom.
“I think she handled it well,” Hill said.
It was also a rough day for some students in the Frontier School District.
A Blasdell Elementary School child had to wait until 8:30 p.m. Monday until his mother was able to work through traffic snarls in Buffalo to pick him up from an afterschool program. Two staff members waited with the boy until his mother could get to the school Monday evening, said interim Superintendent Paul Hashem.
Elsewhere, a Frontier bus went to pick up four students from the district who attend Maritime Charter School in Buffalo and had a long ride back home. The bus got stuck in bad traffic for hours, and Frontier transportation staff called their parents every 15 minutes to give them updates, until the bus was able to deliver the children back home at about 8:50 p.m.
News Staff Reporter Karen Robinson contributed to this report.