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Erie County snowmobile clubs recognized for 'heroic actions' during blizzard; more involvement in preparations sought

"There are 10 clubs a lot of equipment, a lot of snowmobiles, a lot of snowmobilers, and we like to give back," Richard McNamara said.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Erie County Legislature honored members of various snowmobile clubs Thursday for their "heroic efforts" during the Blizzard of 2022.

David Waples and Richard McNamara, the president and treasurer of the Erie County Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, were presented with a resolution by the minority caucus and thanked for their selfless service.

The resolution read in part"when the dangerous storm conditions made it impossible for emergency vehicles to respond ... the WNY Federation of Snowmobile Clubs sprang into action."

Additional accolades were given to the Pioneers Sno-Surfers Sardinia Snowmobile Club, WNY Snowmobile Club of Eden Trail Blazers, WNY Snowmobile Club of Boston, and the Northern Erie Sno-Seekers Snowmobile Club, where McNamara is a member.

Over three days McNamara said he traveled 270 miles in his Sno-Cat trail groomer from Newstead to downtown Buffalo. With an average speed of around 10 miles per hour, at the time McNamara said he didn't feel heroic saving stranded drivers from their cars or cold homes.

"It's just really satisfying helping neighbors," McNamara said.

But by the end of the storm, he'd helped 41 people including a group of nurses he needed to get to Buffalo General Medical Center. McNamara called the experience humbling; to be of service and have the ability to help.

"It's not just me either, it's all of us there are ten clubs a lot of equipment, a lot of snowmobiles, a lot of snowmobilers and we like to give back," McNamara said.

The efforts of snowmobilers have led to renewed questions about how local municipalities could better involve local clubs in their winter storm emergency response plans.

"Coming up with a better plan for Erie county and we gotta make sure these individuals who stepped up during this last storm are part of our long-term solution," 6th District Legislator Chris Greene, who represents Amherst, Clarence, and Newstead said during Thursday's resolution presentation.

Rather than requesting the aid of snowmobiles over Facebook, which happened on many occasions during the storm McNamara and Waples are in early discussions focused on building a communication network that could lead to better countywide coordination in the future.

"A couple of days ago we met with Erie County homeland we're trying to put some programs together," McNamara said.

Waples added: "There's a lot more to come, we made some good progress but we've got some more meetings to go and some more information that needs to be gathered and shared."

However, this network of snowmobiles is created both men hope that progress isn't lost as McNamara explained has happened after previous storms. Most notably he said after Snovember 2014.

"I hope this changes this time because last time we talk for 6 months and they forget all about us that is until the next storm."

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