(WIVB) — President Biden officially declared a major disaster and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery funds for the December blizzard.
The declaration will make federal funding available for individual assistance for affected people in Erie and Genesee Counties. The funds will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Additional federal funding will also be available to eligible state and local governments as well as certain private non-profit organizations for repair of facilities located in Erie, Genesee and Niagara counties.
The funds were requested by Governor Kathy Hochul. The blizzard impacted a large portion of Western New York throughout Christmas weekend, a storm that killed 44 people, the majority of which came in Erie County.
Kathy Lassiter and her sister Evon lost their mother, Doris Williams, during the December blizzard. Their 91 year-old mother lived at the Lyndon B. Johnson Apartments, which lost power during the storm. They say Williams froze to death inside her apartment.
The family charged a lot of the funeral expenses on credit cards and they say the government funds will help them avoid debt.
“I had reached out to the community, they’re the governing officials, to take this very seriously and know that this changed a lot of people’s lives,” Lassiter said. “A lot of people were very hurt by losing their loved ones in such a devastating storm that we’ve never seen before in this area and it changed our lives, our families lives.”
The family still grieving and the sisters miss their mom, who they say had a kind and sweet personality.
“We’re hurting. We’re really hurting because of the devastating way that she died,” Kathy Lassiter told News 4. “I found her in her apartment frozen by the door and it was very devastating to me. I’m just going through a slower process of healing.”
The federal funding will also help state and local governments. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says more than $10 million was spent during the December blizzard. That money was used toward rescue efforts, for snow plowing and snow removal.
“It will be a boost to the city financially, it’ll be very helpful in recovering costs that had to be expended, but it’ll also be helpful to residents and businesses that suffered losses during the blizzard,” Mayor Brown said.
“I am grateful @POTUS granted @GovKathyHochul request for federal assistance for the December ’22 winter storm and blizzard. This funding is critical for Buffalo to successfully recover and strengthen after this ‘once in a generation’ blizzard,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Wednesday night. “We look forward to working with FEMA and helping our residents and businesses.”
- Retail theft major concern for Cheektowaga Police
- ‘It doesn’t really sink in,’ Kenmore pizzeria named 28th top pizza in the world
- Buffalo Police release body cam video from shooting of ‘suicidal’ man
- “We’re Bills Fans through and through, good bad and ugly,” Bills fan shows us his fan cave
- Make-A-Wish Radiothon 2023 raises over $265,000
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.