Clean Up, Damage Assessments Continue Following Record Breaking Blizzard

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SUNSET BAY, NY (WNY News Now) – After parts of Western New York were hit hard by a record breaking blizzard, officials in Chautauqua County are surveying the damage and still helping many dig out and clean up. 

While we did get some major snow and ice in parts of northern Chautauqua County over the holiday weekend, right now all eyes are on Buffalo with a few local fire departments, including crews out of Forestville, dispatched to help those in the Queen City.

“The request statewide went out for tracked ATV and UTV assets from Fire Departments to respond,“ explained Director of Emergency Services for Chautauqua County Noel Guttman. “To assist the City of Buffalo Fire Department and ambulances. So they responded, we canvased our county, and they were able to commit to the 72 hour request that was made, and they responded with their ATV and Fire Department truck and partnered up with AMR ambulance to facilitate getting patients out of areas that ambulances couldn’t drive because of the road conditions.”   

Likening it to a hurricane, County Executive PJ Wendel says the most impacted areas lay along the lake Erie shoreline. Being bombarded with debris, ice, and water.

This year however, officials believe that ice buildup could’ve led to less damage.

“I’ve been talking to Senator Borello, that’s one of the things he speculated,“ stated Executive Wendel. “There was a little bit of an ice burn buildup, he feels that bit of ice that was built up stopped as much debris from coming in than what has happened in the past. And if you recall many of these storms that we’ve had. Which now we’ve had for four consecutive years. This was the first time that there was some frozen ice that he speculated, and others, and I believe as well, that stopped a lot of that water or debris from coming in.  

To help prevent future storm damage, the county executive is looking at two solutions: federal relief, and installing breakwalls.

“There needs to be some sort of relief,“ explained Executive Wendel. “The federal government declared Buffalo a disaster area in Erie county. But, I’d like to see what our damages are.”

As for the emergency response before, during and after the storm, credit goes to the brave first responders working during the holiday.

“The first responders, the law enforcement, the lineworkers, the utility workers, everyone that keeps every asset of life going for our community,“ stated Guttman. “Those are truly the people that are the unsung heroes of this event. Giving up countless hours with family just to make sure everyone else has a good time.”   

Executive Wendel is currently working with New York’s U.S. Senator, Chuck Schumer, to lower the cap for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to cover damages in Chautauqua County.


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