BUFFALO — The city of Buffalo’s response to a massive snowstorm that has killed at least 34 people across the region has been hampered as emergency responders continue to search for survivors and plows have moved small piles of snow that have put the city under drive. attacked on wednesday. Banned for 6 consecutive days.
Mark Polonkers, the county administrator of Erie, including Buffalo, spoke at the daily briefing, accusing city leaders of failing to clear the roads quickly, and the administration of Mayor Byron W. and the state’s coordinated response. We have discussed with state authorities the possibility of taking responsibility for all cultivation within the region.
“We call our elected officials every morning, and the City of Buffalo wasn’t on it,” Polonkers said. But the storm, after the storm, after the storm, after the storm, unfortunately this city was the last to open and it shouldn’t be. It’s embarrassing to say
In another briefing minutes later, Brown deflected accusations by emphasizing that Buffalo was the hardest-hit area of the historic storm. He said no, claiming there was “no feud” between the two.
“People have been working around the clock since this storm started,” says Brown. “Some people handle that pressure in a completely different way. Some keep working. Some keep trying to help the residents of our community.
In an interview Wednesday, Brown again dismissed the accusations. “We feel frustration, fear and anger,” he said. “But everything that could be done leading up to and during the storm was done.”
The accusations threatened to hamper coordination during the aftermath of the worst storm to hit the area since 1977, bringing renewed scrutiny to Brown, who has led the city for nearly 17 years. Mr. Brown was reelected to his fifth term as a right-in candidate in 2021, despite complaints about corruption scandals at city hall and mismanagement in a city plagued with acute poverty.
“Our city government is letting us down,” said India Walton, a socialist and community organizer who was a Democratic mayoral candidate. She said there was “deflection, gaslighting, excuses, meaning 30 people died as a result and someone has to be held accountable.”
Even in areas notorious for snow, the storm had devastating effects. Experts and elected officials attribute it to a combination of historic blizzard conditions, a lack of emergency management resources, and the determination to carry on with life by some residents accustomed to extreme weather. Especially in the days before Christmas.
And unlike past storms that have often hit small towns outside Buffalo the hardest, this time the storm hits the city, putting more people at risk, more homes without power, and more cars without power. It roared the full road and made it an obstacle for emergency responders.
But as Buffalo digs out from under snowdrifts, questions about readiness are rising, including the timing of the travel ban issued during Friday morning’s commute. Brown said Friday that the city “absolutely” can handle snow from a storm of this magnitude, but “the city’s snow protection plan is not prepared for blizzards. It will handle normal snowfall.”
In an interview, Buffalo Common Council member Rasheed Wyatt said he “didn’t want to point the finger at it,” but admitted that the storm had made it clear the need to rethink city planning. He pointed out that no changes were made after
“Some lessons have to be learned from what happened,” Wyatt said, adding, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime storm. Sometimes”
Asked why a travel ban had not been issued earlier, Polonkers said: Officials have weighed the need for night shift workers who can go home against forecasts that indicate the stormband won’t hit until the morning. “If someone should be blamed, you can blame me,” he said. “I will make the final decision on behalf of the county.”
Officials said that while Buffalo’s driving ban is expected to be in effect until at least Thursday morning, many residents have not heeded it and have expressed concern that removal efforts have been delayed. City and county officials were aiming to have at least one lane open on all roads by Wednesday night, they said.
This timeline offered little comfort to Buffalo residents who remained snow-bound for nearly a week after the storm. In the LaSalle neighborhood on Buffalo’s East Side, the streets were still barely passable Wednesday afternoon. Residents were scooping as the snow became dense and heavy after a long day of high temperatures.
Kazi Mohamad was using a snow blower in the driveway of a rental property trapped in a four-foot bank of snow dumped there by a front-end loader. He said he didn’t see any snow removal on the streets until late Tuesday.
“It always feels like the city was unprepared for a blizzard like this,” said Mohammad.
Up the street, Jessie and Nadine Mitchell cleared the driveway and then plowed the snow around their car. Trucks, SUVs and the occasional car zipped along the narrow, snow-covered roads.
Nadine Mitchell spoke out when she voiced her dissatisfaction with the government’s response, blaming both Brown and Gov. Kathy Hochul (Democrat).
“For a week they knew this storm was coming,” she said. “So why not put the National Guard here?”
According to Mitchell, the poorest neighborhoods are always the last to be cleared, areas like hers.
“How come, as taxpayers, as homeowners, we’re always the last to be dug up?” she said.
With temperatures soaring into the 40s, county officials said Wednesday they were preparing for possible flooding from melting snow, but said it was unlikely to cause problems.
Authorities are also addressing numerous reports of looting, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said. completely Destroyed. it is not asked. To be completely honest, it sucks. “
Polonkers said at least 34 people were killed in the storm in the county, 26 of them in Buffalo. Buffalo officials said he had 28 deaths within city limits. It was unclear why these numbers were different.
Authorities warned that more victims could be found. Poloncarz said members of the National Guard began agitation on Wednesday, going door-to-door to check on nearby residents who had lost power.
“I worry that there are people who have died, including loneliness, and who are not doing well in institutions, especially those who are not yet in power,” Polonkaerts said.
Among those who died was William Clay, a lifelong resident and retired truck driver. According to his sister, Sophia Clay, he took the threat of storms seriously, and the weather in this city on the shores of Lake Erie can go from cold and calm to dizzying and deadly in an instant. I saw firsthand how it turned into snow.
The last time Sophia Clay spoke to her brother was at midnight on Saturday (Christmas Eve) when she called to wish him a happy 56th birthday. “He seemed happy,” she said. “He told me he loved me and would see me soon.”
Some time later, the family believes, Clay walked to a nearby convenience store to pick up last-minute supplies. Relatives who arrived at Clay’s house that night found it empty and warned the other family members.
A concerned Sophia Clay posted a message on Facebook urging neighbors to take care of her brother. A picture of a man called her attention. She knew it was him. She recognized his coat.
Sophia Clay said she called the Buffalo Police Department. “They said they were on their way,” she said. But hours later, the family was horrified to see the new photo of the body still there. “For hours and hours he just lay there,” she said.
The family felt helpless. Driving is prohibited. Increasingly unconvinced that local officials would respond, Clay’s relatives began trying to find a way to pick up his body on their own.
Clay’s body was finally recovered late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. His sister identified her brother from a photo of a tattoo on her arm, but the family had yet to go to the coroner’s office to see the body in person.
“I think he just got overtaken by the storm and got confused,” said Sophia Clay. “He knew how bad these storms were going to be, and that was all he could think of. He knew to be afraid.”
What hurt was that her brother was dressed for the elements. She confirmed through the coroner that her brother was wearing a coat and layers. “That wasn’t enough,” she said.
Brianna Sacks contributed to the report.