Cleanup after devastating Buffalo storm kicks into high gear

Weather

(NewsNation) — Days after a deadly winter storm, people in Buffalo, New York, are still digging out.

On Wednesday, clean-up kicked into full gear after a massive storm that dropped over four feet of snow in some areas of Buffalo starting on Christmas Eve.

The National Guard went door to door in parts of Buffalo to check on people who had lost power, as a deep freeze eased into milder weather.

As of Wednesday afternoon, a driving ban for the city remains in effect as there are hundreds of pieces of snow-fighting equipment cleaning the streets. The driving ban has ended, however, for the majority of Erie County.

Shy Jackson left her car in a gas station parking lot, five days ago, after it got buried in a snow bank. Local police helped her out with a ride home while her car got towed out.

“This is my first time seeing my car since Friday,” she said.

City crews have been working to get the power back up, as hundreds of trucks clear the mounds of snow that coated the city after the blizzard that left at least 30 people dead.

There was so much snow that during the storm, the Buffalo Fire Department was not able to respond to calls.

“We would get stuck in the snow — we’d have to walk back to our firehouses and abandon our rigs,” Will Unger, of Buffalo Firefighters Union Local 282, said. “It’s the first time in our history that we couldn’t respond to calls.”

Buffalo’s local firefighters union told NewsNation the city needs to be better prepared, and get the proper equipment to withstand the storm and take care of the community.

“It’s detrimental to everybody in the city and we have to be better, ” John Otto, another member of the union said.

A front end loader dump snow into a dump truck as crews clear large amounts of snow, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, in Buffalo N.Y., days after a winter storm passed through. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

At a press conference Wednesday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz expressed his displeasure with the city of Buffalo’s response to the blizzard as well, NewsNation local affiliate WIVB reported, even saying he’s had discussions with the state of New York about the county taking over the city’s snow cleaning operations.

“The mayor’s not going to be happy to hear about it, but storm after storm after storm after storm, the city, unfortunately, is the last one to be opened and that shouldn’t be the case,” Poloncarz said. “It’s embarrassing, to tell you the truth.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown responded, according to WIVB, by saying that Polancarz has “never once directly, county executive to mayor, said any of these things to me,” adding that the city’s approach is always to work collaboratively with others in the government.

“I don’t really know what the county executive is talking about,” Brown said. “I do know that the storm conditions in the City of Buffalo were most adverse in all of Erie County — in all of Western New York.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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