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Several blizzard-related items on Buffalo Common Council agenda Tuesday

5 of the 8 new items on the Community Development Committee agenda are related to the blizzard.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — It has been a little more than three weeks since the blizzard took the lives of 44 Western New Yorkers, 35 of which lived in the city of Buffalo. 

Now the Buffalo Common Council is looking to figure out how to better prepare for another storm, whenever one may hit. 

Five of the eight new items on the council's Community Development Committee agenda are related to the blizzard. 

That includes three resolutions brought forth by South District councilmember Chris Scanlon, and one each by councilmen Nowakowski and Rivera.

Scanlon's resolution aims to reassess American Rescue Plan funds in order for the city to purchase equipment needed for snow emergencies. He's also looking to see what the city even has, but calling on the Fire, Police, and Public Works departments to provide a detailed inventory of equipment by January 14. 

Scanlon is also calling for the annual snow plan to be amended so it provides detailed plans for larger storms. Right now the snow plan, which the DPW has to provide the council each year by November 1, only accounts for snow removal for a storm no greater than 10 inches. 

The snow plan also doesn't have contingencies for large lake effect storms, like the Snowvember storm, or Blizzards, like the one in December. 

Councilman Rivera is calling for additional aid from federal partners. In his resolution, Rivera says residents in his district are making repairs to properties and aren't getting reimbursed by insurance companies because general homeowners insurance doesn't cover a blizzard. 

Fillmore District Councilman Mitch Nowakowski's resolution calls for an official inquiry into the city's response to the storm. 

At the January 3 Common Council meeting, DPW Commissioner Nate Marton appeared and answered questions from the council. Nowakowski's resolution for an inquiry was announced on January 5. 

Nowakowski sent a letter to Mayor Brown specifically asking over two dozen questions about the response to the storm by the city. Nowakowski says he has yet to receive a response from the Mayor. 

Among other things, Nowakowski wanted to know about the staffing at the Broadway DPW garage, and the makeshift emergency operations center that was established. 

Councilman Nowakowski also wants to know if Buffalo Police officers transported people who became stranded, since the driving ban wasn't established until the storm began. Nowakowski cited that the Erie County Sheriff's Office transported 1,300 people during the storm. 

At one point on the first day of the storm, according to multiple sources, the Buffalo Fire Department began transporting EMS patients in various apparatus when no ambulances were available.

Multiple sources with direct knowledge also told 2 On Your Side that sometime Friday night, December 23, an "order from above" was given for all fire companies to stop transporting EMS patients and stranded residents. 

The Community Development Committee meets Tuesday, January 17 at 1 P.M. at City Hall. 

2 On Your Side reached out to Mayor Brown's office to ask about meeting, as well as Nowakowski's letter. A spokesperson for the Mayor said:

"Shortly after the blizzard, Mayor Brown requested NYU Wagner to conduct a study regarding the regions response. NYU Wagner is recognized as one of the top public policy institutions in the nation." 


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