Travel bans still in place; residents must stay home whenever possible
Deputy Erie County Executive Rich Tobe was joined by county emergency personnel this morning to reinforce a state of emergency remains in Erie County and travel bans are still in effect. The storm is set to continue through Thursday evening and, in order to keep roads clear, people in Erie County must obey travel bans.
"Part of the problem on Tuesday was that the plows couldn't get through the roads because of cars stuck in the snow," Tobe said. "Hopefully, today, people will be mindful of the travel bans in place so that we can clear the roads as much as possible before the next blast of snow. The important thing to remember is that the storm isn't over and people should prepare for at least two more days of bad winter weather."
Crews have been working through the night to clear the remaining stranded motorists and transport people to shelters. The state Department of Transportation has allocated 160 plows, 350 staff, eight blowers and 15 highlifts in addition to private contractors from other parts of the state. Additional National Guard units will be arriving this morning to assist local municipalities with fresh personnel and equipment. A fifth storm-related fatality was reported early Wednesday morning.
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 must stay home.
On Wednesdays, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered the National Guard to deploy resources to Western New York to assist in the emergency efforts. In addition, municipalities across Western New York sent personnel and equipment for the rescue efforts. Amherst and Tonawanda, which were not been affected by the storm, sent plows and snow equipment. In addition, Niagara County sent equipment and sheriff's deputies to Erie County.
To help keep residents safe in their homes, Erie County Department of Health Commissioner Gale R. Burstein urged owners of high-efficiency furnaces to make sure their outtake vents are clear to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition, Burstein said people should not try to shovel snow in areas where snow is heaviest, especially seniors and those with heart conditions.