- A Buffalo barber invited 50 people to shelter in his shop as a blizzard smacked the city this weekend.
- He provided food, drinks, and electricity for those who were stuck without power during the storm.
- He said he felt like this was what he was supposed to do and that “I’m just a person that got a heart.”
As the snow started to fall in Buffalo, New York, on Friday, Craig Elston’s barber shop, C&C Cutz, was up and running with electricity, heat, and WiFi. Unlike those in the city who were less lucky than he was, the power stayed on through the storm.
Elston’s story starts when a man knocked on the front door of his barber shop looking for shelter. Since Elston was already stranded there with some clients, he “felt the need to just open my door up to him,” Elston said, speaking with Insider.
He assumed that at that point, the blizzard couldn’t have gotten much worse and that they’d all be able to go home soon.
But then, he told Insider he started to see news of people dying in the blizzard, so he decided to go on TikTok and Facebook Live to invite anyone in the community who needed shelter to come and stay at his barber shop. The TikTok video has since amassed nearly one million views.
Facebook groups created in Buffalo for the storm also shared Elston’s message, getting the word out even further, he said.
“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?” Elston said. “I genuinely just did it just so people would have somewhere to go.”
In total, Elston told Insider he estimates that 50 people came in and out of his shop from Friday until Monday. He said that around 30 people stayed all weekend, but others came in to warm up, charge their phones, and use WiFi to contact family members.
Elston stayed with the group stranded in his shop over the weekend, telling Insider he hasn’t been home since Friday. He even had to miss Christmas with his nine-year-old daughter.
Elston, who told Insider he is “exhausted,” said he would finally get to go home Tuesday evening.
He said that he slept in his barber’s chair while those staying there slept in the other chairs, on the floor, and in the back of the shop. They used barber capes as blankets.
The majority of people who stayed at the barber shop had homes nearby but had lost power and needed a place that was warm or had gotten stuck outside when the snow started.
Elston fronted the money for those who needed transportation to get home. He paid for food, drinks, and snacks from the corner store — one mile away — which people traveled to in packs of four for sustenance. And he kept the electricity running throughout Christmas weekend.
“This was a tragedy here,” Elston told Insider. “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 said he felt an “obligation to my community” to allow people to stay at the shop, noting that other businesses were charging stranded citizens to shelter there.
“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,” Elston told Insider. “And the most I tell them is that I’m no hero. I’m just a person that got a heart.”
Elston continued: “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.”