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Blizzard fund approved for Erie County as costs rise

Some businesses were damaged in looting during the blizzard and are still closed.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Just as local governments in Western New York review the costs of battling the intense Christmas week blizzard, some businesses in parts of the community are also trying to figure out ways to reopen amidst the aftermath.  

A sad side effect of the blizzard was the looting and damage to businesses in some parts of Buffalo and the suburbs. That is beyond the cost of snow removal and emergency staffing with the intense storm, which we must also remember caused the deaths of over 40 people. 

On Thursday, 2 On Your Side saw some of the still boarded up stores on Genesee Street.  

The popular Aldi's grocery store is still all boarded up on Broadway. A spokesperson says there is no additional update as to when it will open again for its customers.

There is an effort to help the community while those retailers try to get back in business but it's an ongoing pain for the community besides the terrible weather and death toll.

Erie County Legislature Chair April Baskin told 2 On Your Side her own family had been affected as they recently tried to fill a prescription.

"When these unfortunate circumstances happen people have to realize the consequence that they are bringing on themselves and the further voids they are bringing to not just their families but other families in their community," Baskin said.

"So we're working together, leaders and community agencies, to keep putting out initiatives where we can get foundations to be able to donate resources so that the people in these communities have options." 

Meanwhile, City of Buffalo crews are still carting off mounds of snow and dumping it as a now ugly gray-white mixture at a location near the Central Terminal.

But Erie County is specifically trying to keep track of its own snow removal efforts, which in part included South Buffalo. 

On Thursday county legislators approved a $15 Million dollar Blizzard fund to account for costs tallied by the Department of Public Works with all its plow crews and hired contractors along with the county's Emergency Services.

Baskin explained "That way when hopefully FEMA dollars should be made available to us it's already set aside and organized in a way where we can report that to the federal government."

As we heard Wednesday, our U.S. senators will seek some way to help reduce a required local match of 25 percent of the costs for local taxpayers. 

While this $15 million line was set aside and will be covered with unanimous approval there are still some questions. Republican Legislator Frank Todaro says "We initially were told it's $12 million. Today the amendment says $15 million, so another $3 million and nobody knows exactly the number."

Democratic county lawmakers admit there may be more costs. And the snow removal expenses of the city of Buffalo, which again partly involved the county, and the individual towns and villages must be added up for the state's overall application to FEMA for the federal disaster declaration which opens up  the reimbursement cash flow from Washington. 

Separately some affected business could also seek loans from Small Business Administration as part of an overall federal package.   


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