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Hochul seeks federal help with winter storm response

A Federal Emergency Disaster Declaration would open up the state and local governments for funding to help support the response.

HAMBURG, N.Y. — Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Saturday afternoon that she is filing a request for a Federal Emergency Disaster Declaration, which would open up the state and local governments for funding to help support the response.

Hochul said she had been in touch with FEMA and added that she would sign the paperwork following the news conference.

She also provided an update on the National Guard deployment during that 3 p.m. news conference in Hamburg, which Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz also attended.

The number of troops in Erie County, assisting with the storm response, has more than doubled with 150 now on the ground. Among other duties, they are helping dialysis patients get to and from their treatment.

The governor credited Western New Yorkers with following the travel warnings, saying there have been 88 weather-related crashes and 280 rescues. She said a proactive approach by local and state officials has saved lives. 

Also in terms of travel, Poloncarz said you should expect most driving bans to be lifted Saturday night, with the exception of Hamburg and Orchard Park.

Crews are checking in on the 49 mobile home parks that are within the storm zone, because they can be especially at risk of damage.

The governor toured one Saturday morning in Lackawanna.

"All of them are being checked on personally, because there's a vulnerability," Hochul said. "You talk about roof collapses, these are not strong roofs, and so we want to make sure that people who hear a single sound know to leave the vicinity immediately because it could be the collapse of a roof."

Hochul during the news conference mentioned that the Skyway would likely reopen soon. At 4:34 p.m., NITTEC reported that Skyway heading into Buffalo has been cleared and is now open. Not long afterward, Buffalo Police Department added that the Skyway was reopened in both directions.

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