11/10/16 Bee News - Public Safety, Planning at Forefront of Winter Preparation

As summer fades into memory and a clear, cool fall season moves towards its inevitable conclusion, planning for winter and all the uncertainties it brings moves to the forefront across Erie County. For most of us that means making sure our snow shovels are close at hand and snow blowers are ready to go, along with all the hats, gloves and coats we’ll need to see us through the cold months. While residents are busy planning for themselves and their families, at the county level we are working with partners to prepare for whatever winter can throw at us. This means getting our plows ready to roll and ensuring that we are Storm Ready.

One of the biggest responsibilities we have is keeping the roads plowed when the snow flies, and no matter where you live in Erie County you know that snow can stack up fast. This month I am pleased to report that a new snowplowing agreement is in place with the Highway Superintendents Association representing over 30 municipalities that contract with the county for snowplowing. With 1,200 center lane miles of road in its inventory, the county relies on strong partnerships with the Towns to ensure that all county roads are plowed in the winter. The new agreement reinforces the good working relationship between the county and the Towns and provides continuity and consistency in keeping our roads clear. On behalf of county residents I thank the members of the Association and our own Department of Public works for reaching a sound, fair, and responsible agreement.

We have also received more good news on the winter preparation front as Erie County has once again been recognized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (“NOAA’s”) National Weather Service as being StormReady®. This means that Erie continues to meet a stringent set of storm warning reception and information dissemination criteria, allowing for prompt identification of potential weather hazards and also speeding distribution of necessary warning information.

StormReady® is a nationwide community preparedness program that uses a grassroots approach in helping communities plan to handle local severe weather. There are over 2,100 StormReady communities across the country. In order to be recognized as StormReady, communities must establish a 24-hour warning point and Emergency Operations Center; have more than one way to receive severe weather forecasts and alert the public; create a system to monitor local weather conditions; promote the importance of community preparedness through public seminars; and develop a formal severe weather plan. In Erie County we take storm preparation very seriously and are proud to once again receive this designation.

As we prepare for winter at the county level, now is the time for all residents to develop their own personal emergency plan by downloading the “Ready Erie” app. Among other uses, the free multi-purpose app allows users to receive information and emergency alerts through push notifications, locate Erie County’s emergency shelters, and create a personalized Emergency Preparedness Plan, all on your phone. Download your app at http://www2.erie.gov/ and make a plan today.