Was snow day an overreaction? County executive tells WNY to show ‘backbone’

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Shortly after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a statewide state of emergency would go into effect at midnight Tuesday, local school districts — and universities — canceled classes for the day.

And so when people woke up Tuesday morning to roads that were relatively clear — just wet in some cases — and a few inches on on the ground, many asked: Was all this really necessary?

“I’ve seen the governor declare a state of emergency statewide before that have never had a reaction like this,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

News of the state of emergency that went into effect at midnight sparked a chain reaction across Western New York, as school district after school district made the call to close their buildings.

But was their reaction an overreaction? Erring on the side of caution because this year’s mild winter means an abundance of unused snow days.

“I think this is the first time we’ve ever seen school districts in our region close based on a statewide state of emergency that was really impacted elsewhere,” Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz Tweeted what many were thinking, when he wrote in part “Let’s show some backbone folks. When did six inches of snow over 24 hours ever stop Buffalo?”

That’s the right mentality, says Vinny Capone, taking a break from clearing what he described as a dusting from his driveway.

“It’s a little harsh, being that this is Buffalo, and we know what snow’s like,” he said. “This ain’t nothing. This is a dusting. I was thinking, where’s the storm? When they said the schools were closed, I was a little bit shocked. You know, why?”

Jeffrey Shorr of Buffalo decided to take advantage of the surprise day off to take his kids sledding.

“I was a little bit surprised, you know. Buffalo is pretty hardy,” he said. “We’re used to pretty heavy snow amounts. And what they were forecasting was not very heavy in my eyes.”

When Mark Granata went to bed Monday night, he assumed he’d wake to a blanket of white across Buffalo.

“I thought we were going to get hit hard,” Granata said. “This is nothing. I’m used to ’77, storms like that. This is nothing.”

There is an upside, though. The widespread school closures make it easier for crews to clear the way with fewer obstacles.

“It does help. The less traffic we have out there, the better it is for us,” said Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak. “We’ve been bouncing back and forth from our residentials to our mains as this persistent snow occurs.”

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