Buffalo Creek Casino Remains Closed, City Slowly Recovers from Deadly Blizzard

Posted on: December 27, 2022, 08:04h. 

Last updated on: December 27, 2022, 11:54h.

Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino is temporarily shuttered in the wake of a treacherous and dangerous blizzard that brought the city of Buffalo to a standstill.

A Buffalo snow removal worker prepares to pull a stranded car
A Buffalo snow removal worker prepares to pull a stranded vehicle, pictured above. Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino is temporarily shuttered by the blizzard. (Image: WGRZ)

The upstate New York casino closed at 1 p.m. on Friday, December 23, two days before Christmas. As of Tuesday, it remains unclear as to when the gaming floor will reopen.

In a statement on Friday, Seneca Gaming Corporation President and CEO Kevin Nephew explained the decision to close. It became apparent “the weather conditions in and around Buffalo simply make it impossible for our team members to travel safely to and from Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.”

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.

The couple also gave rides to some stranded travelers, some of whom had medical conditions, Spectrum News reported.

“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.

You couldn’t see who was in front of you. You couldn’t see who was behind you half the time. You couldn’t even see who was on your left or your right,” Newbern-O’Reiley said.

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.

Newbern-O’Reiley was thankful and assisted others. She took time to reflect on what she experienced.

“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.”

“Every time I turn around, there are people that have … empathy … people that have that compassion, there are people that care,” Newbern-O’Reiley added.

Other Casinos

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. Table games may be in limited supply.

Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino in Salamanca remains open, though some restaurants and bars at the open properties suspended operations.

Buffalo Conditions

Roads remained closed in Buffalo as of Monday after more than four feet of snow left multiple vehicles stranded throughout Erie County. At least 28 people died during the treacherous weather, the Buffalo News reported. Half of them perished outside.

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 remained closed. 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.

National Impact

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 p.m. on Friday and reopened at 10 a.m. on Christmas Day.

The winter weather was a continuing problem for much of the nation. Many flights were impacted since late last week as a result.

As of 5 a.m. PT on Tuesday, there were 39 delayed flights at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. There were 222 canceled flights at the airport, according to data from FlightAware, a flight tracking site. The disrupted flights could impact travel to Las Vegas casinos during the holiday week.

Nationally, the number of daily canceled and delayed flights continues to be in the thousands.