BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo is still recovering from the blizzard that claimed the lives of more than 40 people Christmas weekend. City councilmembers met Tuesday to talk about what needs to be done to make sure that doesn’t happen the next time we’re slammed by a storm.
One suggestion that was brought up during Tuesday’s meeting was for the city to hire an emergency management coordinator. This was brought up by council member Mitch Nowakowski, who says he’s been hearing from people in his district who not only want answers, but they want to see action. Leaders say hiring an emergency management coordinator will help the city in its emergency preparedness, response and recovery plans.
Council member Rasheed Wyatt said he’s also in favor of adding the position.
“I think that we should be transparent and it shouldn’t be about somebody blaming or pointing fingers, its about how do we get this right? People’s lives are on the line,” Wyatt said. “It shouldn’t be about worrying about what someone says after the fact. it should be what are we going to do the next time.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has called for hiring a fleet manager who would oversee police, fire and public works vehicles. During a news conference earlier this month, the mayor said fleet management is the most immediate need, but that he is open to hiring an emergency management coordinator as well.
Council member Chris Scanlon was among those stressing how the city needs to update its equipment for emergency responders. Scanlon says for fire crews, they’re working with equipment that’s around 20 years old and equipment that is cracked. He says they need equipment that can handle working in conditions like we saw during the blizzard, and vehicles with 4 wheel drive. He’s concerned crews currently don’t have access to that.
“I’ve heard from some people that no one’s been hurt no one has died from the equipment, but I’m not willing to wait for that to happen,” Scanlon said.
“Even though you can not directly relate the age of the fleet to anything that happened, we had rigs that were absolutely broken down,” said Vinny Ventresca, who’s the president of the Buffalo Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 282. “We had a ladder truck that was stuck in the air for five days and the point is, we’ve been saying year, after year, after year, and when you order new equipment it’s not immediate that it shows up. You have to have a plan in place.”
Scanlon is asking that the city uses funds from the American Rescue Plan to purchase new equipment and update equipment.