Craig Elston and some of his clients got stranded in his barber shop during Friday’s killer blizzard in Buffalo. But luckily for him, his facility still had electricity, heat and WiFi – unlike other residents who had such services cut off as a result of the storm.
As they waited for the storm to calm down, a man in need of shelter knocked on the door of his C&C Cutz barber shop. Elston told Insider that since he and his clients were already stranded, he “felt the need to just open my door up to him.”
Elston also initially thought the deadly blizzard wouldn’t last for long, and they’ll be able to return to their homes soon. But he said he decided to go on social media to invite anyone seeking shelter to head over to his shop after he saw news of fatalities from the storm. A video he posted on TikTok in the wake of the storm has been viewed almost a million times.
Elston’s invitation also gained more ground after Facebook groups that were set up for the Buffalo storm shared it. “I see people dead on Facebook. My first instinct is I got a building with heat and lights, like a lot of people don’t. Why not open my building up to the public?” said Elston. “I genuinely just did it just so people would have somewhere to go.”
Elston said about 50 people sheltered in his shop between Friday and Monday, adding that about 30 of them stayed there during the entire weekend. He said other people came to the shop to warm up, put their phones on charge, and use WiFi to get in touch with their relatives.
He also remained in his shop during that period and ended up not spending Christmas with his 9-year-old daughter. He said some of them slept in chairs while others slept on the floor and in other places in the shop. Most of the people who sheltered in Elston’s shop lived around, but they were without power and needed warm places, Insider reported. Others also got stranded outside after the storm started.
And besides providing shelter, Elston also handed out money to people in need of transportation to return home. He also bought food, drinks and snacks. “This was a tragedy here,” Elston said. “A lot of people that are not from Buffalo don’t understand how terrible the weather is. This is the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Elston also revealed other businesses that were offering shelter were charging the people who needed help. “When I said it was free of charge, people said I saved their life,” Elston said.
“People’s been reaching out to me calling me a hero,” he continued. “And the most I tell them is that I’m no hero. I’m just a person that got a heart.”
He added: “I felt like at that time it was what I was supposed to do. I’m sitting in a warm place and I got lights and people are without lights. People are without gas, people are without food, people are without drinks. And I have all those things and I have access to all those things. I’m not gonna be selfish.”