Daemen Students and Staff Brave the Buffalo Blizzard: How A Community Came Together to Prevail

By Calvin Dimmig

While most college students went home for winter break, some stayed on campus and faced a historically brutal blizzard. 

On the Christmas weekend of 2022, our Assistant Director of Student Activities, Nathan Flintjer, and eighteen other members of the Daemen community, were isolated on campus.

“I was the professional on call,” Flintjer said, “and I got a call from the security officers on Thursday. I was officially called in on that Saturday.” 

Saturday of that weekend was Christmas Eve.

Flintjer arrived at the Daemen Campus turned snowscape: dunes of snowdrifts, cars completely covered, and doors barricaded by the snow. 

The nineteen stranded on campus sought shelter in the Wick. The building dropped to 

41 F and the power wasn’t expected to be back on until Sunday, Christmas day. 

Morale was low amongst the people in the Wick. However, Flintjer, an experienced cook, provided students and staff with impromptu meals of pizzas, hot dogs, and whatever leftovers were in the building. 

“I worked at the Culinary Institute of America for five years and was a camp counselor for five summers in college,” Flintjer said, “When they needed someone to work, I said I can do this.”

Flintjer was not the only hero. Security officers Brett Holtz and James Lewis were part of the group that was stuck. Brett, James, and Flintjer took turns maintaining the fire. 

The fire lit in Alumni Lounge that provided crucial heat to students and staff stuck on campus without power.

“We thankfully found blankets in the building, James and I,” Holtz said, “We also found and brought in firewood from outside the Wick.”

“We even went over to DS to see if it had power. It wasn’t flooded yet, but it was cold,” Holtz said. 

While the storm brewed, a community was coming closer together in a way they could not before. Students, staff, and security guards got to know each other on a new level.

“We chatted by the fire a lot,” Flintjer said, “and by the fire, I was not an assistant director. I was Nathan.”

The Daemen Insight would like to thank Nathan Flintjer, Brett Holtz, and James Lewis for risking their lives and answering the call for help.

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