CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. - Federal aid could soon be heading to Western New York. That's the message Senator Charles Schumer passed along during a Saturday afternoon storm recovery update.
Senator Schumer joined Erie County officials for a survey of heavily damaged areas across the county Saturday morning before speaking. He outlined several programs and opportunities that can be made available for homeowners and businesses if FEMA declares it a disaster.
Schumer said while it's tough to come up with a price tag for storm damages at this time, he believes there is enough damage for FEMA to declare it a disaster in the next few days. Money could head to both Western New York as a whole, but also to individual homeowners and business owners.
FEMA funding could provide up to $32,900 for homeowners, but usually provides around $5,000 to affected homeowners, according to Senator Schumer. Those funds would be made available for things like temporary housing, roof repairs, or new heating systems.
"The eyes of the world are on Buffalo, and Buffalo looks great. What has caught the attention of the country is the spirit of Buffalo," Senator Schumer said.
Schumer also advised homeowners to keep records and receipts of their expenditures to help get funding.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz also spoke Saturday afternoon, urging people not to drive unless they have to, even in areas where driving bans no longer exist. He says most of the county's roads are cleared, but the remaining snow pack of an inch or two is quickly becoming ice as the weather changes.
Poloncarz says 5,500 people from here in Western New York, and from across the region, are now working on cleanup across the county. He stressed that crews are working around the clock to get to each and every street in the county. He says that plows are on the way for areas still buried in Hamburg, Evans, and the rest of the Southtowns.
Mayor Byron Brown also spoke Saturday afternoon to give an update on cleanup efforts in the city. Brown says more than 2,500 truckloads of snow have been removed from the city, which is more than 50,000 tons.
Over 305 trucks and crews are out on the roads Saturday working in the hardest hit areas of Buffalo, South Buffalo, and Kaisertown. Brown reports that 98 percent of city streets are now open, and he expects 100 percent of roads to be open by the end of the day Saturday.
Brown also noted that driving access is being granted for anyone who needs to drive into parts of the city that are under a driving ban in order to get food or other essential supplies.