Modified: November 8, 2018 4:29pm
Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Emergency Services Commissioner Daniel Neaverth, Jr., Deputy Commissioner of Highways Charlie Sickler, and Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition (NITTEC) Executive Director Athena Hutchins to emphasize planning, preparedness, and safety as winter approaches. Snowplows, salt piles and emergency vehicles provided the backdrop at the county’s Harlem Road Public Works barn in Cheektowaga as officials highlighted county preparations for upcoming winter weather and stressed the importance of individuals doing the same.
“Our Department of Public Works will be ready to handle whatever Old Man Winter throws at us this year with salt in the barns, new vehicles in the plow fleet and heavy duty snow blowing equipment to deploy if and when necessary. Emergency Services is also prepared and ready to assist as necessary when the weather turns bad, but now is the time for residents to do their part,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “As a storm ready community, we recognize the importance of readiness and so we are encouraging residents and motorists to take some time now, before the weather gets too bad, to prepare themselves and their vehicles. If an emergency strikes, this preparation could save a life.”
Five new Volvo plow trucks will be added to the Public Works fleet this year and will be in service by the second week of December; these new vehicles are in addition to the twenty-five dump trucks the Poloncarz administration has added to the Highway Department’s fleet since 2012. In addition, the county’s snow-fighting arsenal includes 3 snow blower attachments for high-lift vehicles, which will be strategically located in the event of storms. These high-lifts would be deployed to locations ahead of a snow event to clear multiple feet of snow, if necessary. Erie County’s 15 storage facilities are currently storing approximately 20,000 tons of salt for potential winter usage, with sand barns also filled to be mixed with salt in rural areas.
“Last year, our first major snow event happened on December 4 so we are ready a bit earlier this year,” said Deputy Commissioner of Highways Charlie Sickler. “We have been paving roads and doing as much road work as possible up until now but our crews are now changing gears and will be ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store.”
The DPW Highways’ Division is also making use of enhanced technology in combatting winter snows. The use of online mapping tools allows the Department to include a constantly updated overlay of driving bans by Town or Village in an online format on both the Erie County website and the Ready Erie app. Highway districts will be able to annotate the map to indicate if roads are open (green) restricted (yellow) or closed (red), ensuring that valuable information is being pushed live and in a timely manner to the public.
In September 2016 Erie County unveiled the free “Ready Erie” app to allow county residents to create a personalized Emergency Preparedness Plan. In addition to completing a Plan, the multi-purpose app allows users to receive critical weather, news, information and emergency alerts through push notifications, locate Erie County’s emergency shelters, and view up-to-date evacuation route maps. Users who create a personalized Emergency Plan are able to store the Plan on their device to share with family and friends. Every individual’s Plan will include an Emergency Supply Kit Checklist tailored to their needs; a Customized Emergency Food Supply Shopping List; an Emergency Communications Plan to notify loved ones of the individual’s status; and information to prepare your home for impending disaster.
Emergency Services Commissioner Dan Neaverth, Jr., added, “I'm repeatedly asked if there's a single thing citizens can do to prepare and I always respond, have a plan. Preparing for winter events is a team effort and the public is a key player. The ability to develop a step by step emergency plan customized specifically for your family is just a free download away."
The app can be downloaded from the Erie County website at http://www2.erie.gov/ under the “Online Services” tab. The Ready Erie app is available on all major platforms.
Erie County’s recognition by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (“NOAA’s”) National Weather Service as being StormReady® confirms that Erie continues to meet a stringent set of storm warning reception and information dissemination criteria, enabling prompt identification of potential weather hazards as well as speeding distribution of necessary warning information. The Weather-Ready Nation (WRN) Ambassador™ is a NOAA initiative designed to strengthen partnerships with external organizations toward building community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather and water events. WRN Ambassadors serve as change agents and leaders in their community, inspiring others to be better informed and prepared and thus helping to minimize, mitigate, or avoid the impacts of natural disasters.
“Driving in the winter can be difficult and it’s wise to plan ahead and be ready before you go out,” said NITTEC Executive Director Athena Hutchins. “Preparation can make all the difference and all motorists should take some time to ensure that they and their vehicles are ready.”
NITTEC’s mission is to improve mobility, reliability, and safety on the regional bi-national multimodal transportation network through information sharing and coordinated management of operations. The coalition operates a Traffic Operations Center (TOC) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that monitors traffic and informs the public, as well as the member agencies, stakeholders, and first responders, about traffic situations.
For more information:
On the Erie County Department of Public Works, visit http://www2.erie.gov/dpw/
On the Erie County Department of Emergency Services, visit http://www2.erie.gov/emergencyservices/
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