BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Western New Yorkers are dealing with the aftermath of the deadly storm which dumped up to seven feet of snow on areas south of Buffalo. The arctic blast killed 13 people in the region, and despite a respite in snow, officials have turned to prepare for possible flooding. Flood watches have turned to flood warnings which will last until Monday.
Governor Cuomo described how the state is preparing to deal with “phase two of this battle with Mother Nature.” Cuomo said equipment has been moved to Buffalo and the southtowns to respond to potential structure collapses and significant flooding.
Cuomo is asking residents to clear drains and gutters if possible. In addition, he recommends residents take items out of their basements and pack bags in case of emergency evacuation.
Cuomo said the Red Cross has a shelter system in place, and there is also a backup shelter system in place at Erie Community College.
In an emergency, Cuomo said you can call 311. He said 311 will be fully operational, with a backup system.
“Our motto is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” – Cuomo
“We know the snow situation we’re dealing with, we’re well aware of that. On top of that, a period of high rain will make the snow heavy. There’s potential for structure collapses,” Cuomo explained. He said if the temperature goes up there is potential for flooding, so they are prepared to deal with that.
Cuomo said they have dozens of boats, pumps, sand bags and more equipment to respond to potential emergencies. “Hopefully we need none of this,” Cuomo said. “Hopefully this was just an elaborate exercise in logistics.”
28 boats here, 26 on way
Swift water teams
176,000 sand bags
Sandbaggers to fill the bags
30 light towers
30 more pumps
“Floods are much more dangerous and destructive than people think.” Cuomo said Sunday, “It’s not water, it’s a toxic brew that happens in a flood.”
Cuomo said flooding can cause tremendous damage to anything it hits. He said he “learned that lesson the hard way.”
Teams of structural engineers are coming to town, according to Cuomo. He said they will be checking buildings, including schools.
Cuomo added there will be food available for those in need, specifically the elderly and disabled. He said National Guardsmen have been making food and medicine deliveries.
Cuomo commended local leaders Saturday night on their emergency management. He said each of the 13 deaths is tragic, but he believes there would have been more without good emergency management.
“The courage of Buffalonians has been awesome. The generosity of Buffalonians has been awesome.” – Cuomo
United States Senator Chuck Schumer said he thinks the storm will reach the $3.2 million threshold for FEMA assistance. He said this would provide assistance to homeowners, farmer and small business owners.
Schumer said the region has had trouble with FEMA in the past, referencing a storm in 2006, but said he is confident that won’t happen again. He said FEMA hopes to be in town Tuesday to begin making assessments.
Schumer said, “You’re amazing, you’ve held up great. I will be there every step of the way to make sure the federal government fulfills it’s part of the bargain.”
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Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown both commended Schumer for pledging his support to them on Tuesday, when the storm threats became serious.
Poloncarz said 5,500 people from across the state are in Erie County helping deal with the aftermath. There are people here from Essex County, Rochester and National Guard members from across the state.
Brown said 305 trucks and crews are working on impacted areas, and they anticipate having the city roads cleared by Saturday. Brown said crews have moved 2,500 truck loads of snow, which is 50,000 tons.
Poloncarz said there have been a tremendous stories from western New Yorkers. He said a man made it to the hospital just in time to save his leg from being removed.
“That’s what makes us the county and community of good neighbors,” Poloncarz stated.
Car owners who left their vehicles during the storm can go to Erie.gov to find the location of their cars. If the car was towed by a county authorized towing company, it will be listed in the county’s database. The county waived a $150 towing fee for the car owners. However, this does not apply to cars towed by towns or villages.