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NFTA meeting aims at assessing blizzard response by transportation authority

Thursday's NFTA Board of Directors meeting will focus on the response to the blizzard by the agency, including the financial losses incurred.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A month after the blizzard of 2022, we're still learning new details about the response and impact of the storm. 

The NFTA preemptively shut down bus service ahead of the storm, something NFTA communications manager Kelley Khatib says the transportation authority stands behind. 

"In the end, it was the best choice to make," Khatib said. "As we saw, it was such a safety issue with cars getting stuck on the road, that that was something that we definitely made the right choice on."

The airport opened on December 28, but did not return to a full flight schedule until December 31. 

The loss of airport revenue and massive snow removal costs were substantial: about $1 million in parking, baggage and landing fees were lost with the airfield being shut down. 

But clearing the runways, which took several days, was also expensive, with $1.4 million spent by the NFTA on contracts for snow removal. 

On the metro side of operations, about $130,000 in revenue was lost by the bus suspension, but $110,000 in overtime was incurred by staff. 

According to the board documents posted by the NFTA, it's unclear how much the authority will be reimbursed by FEMA. The documents indicate that FEMA only reimburses for "emergency protective measures," such as emergency operations costs. 

Snow removal is not reimbursed by FEMA unless snow removal is directly related to those emergency protective measures. 

Overall, 190 people were rescued at the airport, including 141 non-airport personnel and one dog. According to the NFTA, people were also rescued from the tunnel underneath the main runway on Aero Drive. 

The NFTA requested the assistance of the National Guard on Dec. 24, but the board documents do not outline when the National Guard arrived, or what assistance they provided. 

The NFTA board of directors meeting is Thursday, Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. 

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