Modified: January 23, 2015 4:28pm
Cooperation Between Municipalities is Key to Getting Roads Clear, Rescuing Stranded Motorists
ERIE COUNTY, NY – Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz stood with emergency personnel, Erie County Sheriff's Office and Erie County Health Commissioner Gale R. Burstein this evening at the Erie County Emergency Operations Center in Cheektowaga, N.Y., to give an update on the storm. Given that the storm will not let up until Friday morning, Poloncarz urged Erie County residents to heed travel bans still in place since this morning.
Poloncarz also emphasized that there is an aggressive, coordinated effort to rescue stranded motorists so that no one is stuck in their car overnight. Route 219 has been cleared of stranded motorists and an effort is underway this evening to rescue all motorists from Route 400. NYS Department of Transportation is continuing rescue efforts on the I-90. Any stranded motorists or anyone aware of a stranded motorist should call 911 so that the people can be located and rescued.
“It's been a long day and the storm isn't over yet,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “The route to the Erie County Emergency Operations Center in Cheektowaga has been cleared so that the center can be fully operational. I am in constant communication with my partners in government in the municipalities across Erie County. We are all working hard to ensure that people are safe in their homes overnight and that anyone stranded outside is rescued. I thank those who have sent us resources so that we can ensure all residents of Erie County are safe at home tonight.”
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has ordered the National Guard deploy resources to Western New York to assist in the emergency efforts. In addition, municipalities across Western New York have sent personnel and equipment for the rescue efforts. Amherst and Tonawanda, who have not been affected by the storm, have sent plows and snow equipment. In addition, Niagara County sent equipment and Sheriff's deputies to Erie County.
“The storm is not over, but we are encouraged that the rescue efforts are almost complete and the cooperation put in place is working,” Poloncarz said. “We will not stop working until everyone in Erie County is safe.”
To help keep residents safe in their homes, Erie County Department of Health Commissioner Gale R. Burstein urges owners of high efficiency furnaces to make sure their outtake vents are clear to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition, Commissioner Burstein emphasizes that people should not try to shovel snow in areas where snow is heaviest, especially seniors and those with heart conditions. Unfortunately, there have been four storm-related fatalities: one from a vehicular accident and three from cardiac events, two which were believed to have happened when individuals were shoveling the heavy snow.
A state of emergency is still in effect for Erie County, which includes a travel ban for the following municipalities: all areas of the City of Buffalo south of Genesee Street, the City of Lackawanna, the Town of Alden, Town of Aurora, Town of Hamburg, the Town of Cheektowaga, the Town of Lancaster. The Town of West Seneca, the Town of Elma, the Town of Marilla, The Town of Hamburg, the Town of Orchard Park, the Village of Alden, the Village of Sloan, the Village of Depew, the Village of Lancaster, the Village of Blasdell, the Village of Hamburg, the Village of East Aurora and the Village of Orchard Park. The only vehicles that are allowed to travel during this ban are emergency personnel.
Erie County will be open for business on Wednesday and county personnel who are not affected by travel bans are asked to report to work. Any county personnel who live in or must travel through areas with travel bans are asked to stay home.