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Western New Yorkers experience stranded car disparities after storm

Towns, cities, and counties each have different policies regarding who needs to front the towing cost.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As clean-up efforts are underway, hundreds of Western New Yorkers are searching for their stranded cars — one of those being Roxanne Albert and her daughter Julianna.

“I just don't think it's right, especially for nurses who are going into work,” Julianna Albert said. 

She was stranded and forced to abandon her car in Amherst on her way to work on Friday and is now being forced to pay $350 to get it back despite being an essential worker. 

“I know they have to get paid,” Albert said. “It's their job. But no one even notified me that the car was being towed.”

According to the Town of Amherst’s stranded car policy, it’s Albert’s responsibility to pay up, but that’s not the case for all drivers across the county, like here in Buffalo where it’s free, or for those who are towed by the county itself. 

“We could ticket people and charge them for the costs associated with towing their vehicles. We’re not,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. “The county’s absorbing it. I want people to understand that.”

Meaning in some municipalities, the sheer chance of who gets to your car first could be the difference between paying the price or not, and that is why Poloncarz wants to take matters into his own hands. 

“I’ve already had discussions with my staff about what it would take for the county to take over all snow-cleaning operations in the future and now I’ve had that discussion with New York State as well because I think it’s apparent that it’s time for it to happen,” he said. 

For those essential workers like Julianna or those who have roadside assistance, authorities tell 2 On Your Side that you can reach out to either your employer or that service for possible reimbursement. 

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