“When we woke up, we realized it was snowing. Then we were stuck,” Granruth said in an interview from the bus. “It was a little scary. We didn’t know what was going on.”
A New York blizzard buried Interstate 90 near Buffalo, N.Y., stopping traffic in both directions. The Purple Eagles became stranded along with some 140 other vehicles, authorities said. Police made the rounds on snowmobiles to keep drivers informed.
The teammates exhausted their food and water supply, forced to pack team water bottles with fresh snow. When asked about the bathroom situation, Granruth said, “So far, so good,” but didn’t elaborate.
Early Wednesday morning, the team tweeted, “On our way back to campus now!” But it was a long trip for these athletes who were just trying to beat the storm.
The snow was blowing down so hard into Tuesday morning, the teammates couldn’t see outside. The roads hadn’t been plowed. And, about 2 a.m., the bus was stopped with 24 people on board. Head coach Kendra Faustin told CNN, “I’m assuming that somebody in the front of the line got stuck and everybody else had to stop, and that’s how we got where we are.”
As The Post’s Cindy Boren reported, the teammates passed the time talking to each other and checking in with their families back home. They used social media to keep loved ones updated.
Granruth said the bus driver told them the vehicle had about 200 hours of idle time, so they were able to keep the motor running to keep the lights on and the heater blowing.
“We’re doing fine,” Renee Polka, the team’s director of operations, told WIVB-TV on Tuesday. “The bus hasn’t stopped running since we left Pittsburgh. So that’s definitely a positive. So we’re probably luckier than others on the road right now.”
As the hours passed, Granruth said one of her teammates, Tiffany Corselli, started a team prayer “as a way to keep our spirits up.” In one photo posted to social media, the players were huddled inside the bus, holding hands and bowing their heads.
“At the top of every hour, I’ve been praying for our strength,” Corselli, a 19-year-old guard, told The Post on Tuesday night. “I just felt that it was something that we needed and it really brought our team together. I think everybody is hungry, restless, tired. … I know we’re in a bad state but there are people worse off then us.”
Tuesday was the coldest November morning since 1976. Across the country, temperatures fell below freezing in at least one city in all 50 states. The lake-effect storm, which some have dubbed “thunder snow,” smothered Buffalo in more than six feet of snow in some areas, leaving people stranded in their vehicles along roadways.
First responders were using snowmobiles from volunteers to respond to calls. At least four people have died — one in a vehicle accident, three others from cardiac arrest while shoveling snow, CNN reported.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) deployed the National Guard to Western New York to help those affected by the snowstorm.
Granruth said about five minutes before she spoke with The Post on Tuesday night, the team ran out of food. Police on snowmobiles came by and dropped off protein bars and packaged cookies. They filled their bottles with snow.
“We’re all a little worried, a little scared, but we’re sticking together and trying to help each other out,” she said at the time. “We’re really thinking about everyone else who’s stuck in the storm. We all hope it’s resolved quickly.”
A few hours later, the teammates posted a photo on Twitter showing their trip home.
Assistant coach Corinne Jones told WGRZ-TV it’s an experience they will never forget.
“You couldn’t set up a team bonding experience like this, I don’t think,” Jones said. “And we as coaches always talk about mental toughness and this is really a true test of how tough are we. I don’t hear a lot of complaining.”
This post has been updated.