Presidential emergency declaration for Erie and Genesee counties would provide direct federal assistance for ongoing storm response, including search and rescue efforts in Buffalo
√ Statewide state of emergency remains in effect; New Yorkers urged to continue avoiding unnecessary travel in areas impacted by storm & follow local travel advisories due to dangerous conditions
√ Travel ban remains in effect for most of Erie County, including entire City of Buffalo; multiple state highway closures in place; NYS Thruway (I-90) between Exit 45 (Rochester) & Pennsylvania border still closed to all traffic
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday submitted a request to President Joe Biden for a federal emergency declaration, as a result of the historic winter storm that began Thursday, Dec. 22, and continues to impact Western New York and the North Country regions. The storm brought blizzard-like conditions, sustained wind gusts of more than 60 miles per hour, and well-below-freezing temperatures through the holiday weekend.
The state's storm response continues this week, as a multitude of emergency response agencies have deployed equipment and personnel to coordinate with and support local governments in impacted regions. Hochul deployed an additional 220 National Guard soldiers to the Western New York region, bringing the total of deployments to approximately 430.
With the response expected to continue throughout the week, Hochul and local officials are continuing to urge New Yorkers to avoid travel in the impacted areas of Erie County, as well as in areas in the North Country experiencing similar conditions near Watertown.
Once approved, the federal emergency declaration would provide immediate federal assistance to support ongoing response and rescue operations.
"I want to thank everyone at the state and local public safety agencies who stepped up and worked throughout the holiday weekend," Hochul said. "I have spoken to President Biden, who has agreed to swiftly approve our federal emergency declaration, which will be crucial to assist our recovery efforts from this historic storm; and I thank our congressional delegation for helping secure this assistance. While we continue to do everything we can to help Western New York recover and await federal assistance, I want everyone in impacted areas to continue to stay off the roads and check in on loved ones and neighbors."
Prior to the arrival of the weather event on Thursday evening, Hochul declared a state of emergency for the entire state, which remains in place. Additionally, New York's emergency management agencies were in communication with the National Weather Service and local governments in the week leading up to the storm.
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (including the Office of Emergency Management and Office of Fire Prevention and Control), Department of Transportation, Thruway Authority, State Police, State Parks and DEC all predeployed resources to the Western New York, Finger Lakes and North Country regions ahead of the storm, and additional resources were surged to heavily impacted areas.
Numerous state highways in the Western New York region remain closed to all traffic, as of Monday afternoon. The New York State Thruway (I-90) remains closed to all traffic between Exit 46 in Rochester to the Pennsylvania line.
Hochul’s team said, “Heavy snow is expected to continue to impact areas off Lake Ontario and Lake Erie this week. Another 1 to 2 feet of snow is expected east of Lake Ontario through Tuesday, with snowfall rates of 3 inches per hour on Monday. The Buffalo area is expected to receive up to an additional foot of snow over the next few days, before temperatures rise later this week and through the weekend.”
The Department of Transportation has surged an additional 100 staff to the Western New York, Finger Lakes and North Country Regions to assist with snow and ice removal operations.
Lake-effect snow warnings and winter storm warnings are currently in effect for several counties in the North Country region. For a complete listing of weather watches and warnings, visit the National Weather Service website.
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "We have and continue to work with our state and local partners to help New Yorkers recover from this devastating winter storm. I want to thank everyone involved in the response to date, and for their continued efforts as we remain active in search and rescue missions. Please adhere to local travel advisories that are still in place, and know that Gov. Hochul and I are working with our partners at all levels of government to ensure we get the assistance necessary to keep communities in Western New York safe."