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Focusing on communication and care during an emergency

Wed, Dec 27th 2023 07:00 am

By Deputy Erie County Executive Lisa Chimera

With the official start of winter on Dec. 21, we enter a season that in Western New York is synonymous with snow. While we are fortunate to have had a mild start, after last year’s “Snowvember” storm and the devastating blizzard of ’22, we know just how important it is to be prepared for a major weather event.

In early January, our Erie County team began working to assess our response and readiness for future storms. As part of Erie County’s emergency planning efforts, officials have coordinated human services agencies and representatives from other sectors to form a COAD – community organizations active in disaster.

COADs are local chapters born from the movement of volunteer work demonstrated in New York City after the Sept. 11 attacks. They are generally composed of representatives from public, private and not-for-profit agencies.

In Erie County, the COAD includes representatives from the City of Buffalo, 211 WNY, American Red Cross, Catholic Charities of Buffalo, FeedMore WNY, United Way, NFTA Metro and AAA, in addition to several county and state departments. We are fortunate to have these groups as partners, as they have deep local ties and access to regional or national resources.

COAD meetings occur virtually twice a month, and during an emergency in which COAD would be activated, participants would be in regular contact to ensure prompt coordination of supplies, services and staff. While our governmental departments are working hard to service vital infrastructure, COAD groups will engage in recovery efforts, providing services and care for our residents.

I am proud of the important work being done, and thank our community partners, the City of Buffalo and New York state, for their collaboration.

I would also like to take the opportunity to encourage all residents to download the free ReadyErie preparedness phone app. The multipurpose app shares critical information and emergency alerts, as well as tools to create your own preparedness plan. For more information, go to www.erie.gov/readyerie. You can also follow the county on Facebook at “Erie County, NY” and on X (formerly Twitter) @ErieCountyNY.

In addition, there are several great videos covering topics related to emergency preparedness posted to our county’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/ErieCountyNY.

While we hope to never face a challenge on the scale that we encountered in 2022, we must make sure that we are prepared to assist residents in any type of emergency situation. My heartfelt condolences stay with those affected by last year’s Christmas storm.

As we head into 2024, I would like to wish all in Erie County a safe, happy and healthy new year.

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