As people across New York State braced for winter weather to strike, Governor Andrew Cuomo was visiting different cities to discuss storm preparations.
His first stop of the day was at the Thruway Authority building in Cheektowaga.
“As everybody knows, there is a major snowstorm that’s on its way. It is a major storm. It’s nothing to be trifled with,” Gov. Cuomo said.
The governor noted Buffalo knows how to handle snow and that we’re not looking at tremendous snow totals, but, he said, when you combine the snowfall with the high winds and frigid temperatures expected to come with it this weekend, “it is a serious situation,” he said.
The governor insists crews across the state are ready for it.
He says the Department of Transportation has 1,600 plows ready to go and the Thruway Authority was ready to send out another 300 pieces of equipment. In all, about 5,000 plow and emergency management crews have been called on to work.
Additionally, the National Guard is ready to deploy 450 personnel and the Public Service Commission is working with utility companies across the state because of concerns about potential power outages.
Governor Cuomo says all of the different agencies and municipalities have been talking with each other for days to get on the same page for this response.
“We’re talking about thousands of personnel, we’re talking about hundreds of pieces of equipment, and when we can come up with a coordinated game plan on how to deploy the equipment, how to deploy the personnel, it makes all of us more efficient and more effective,” Cuomo said.
Well ahead of the storm striking, the state put out an alert about a travel ban for tractor trailers and buses on the Thruway and many major highways, including the 190, the 290, state routes 5, 400 and 219.
The ban for trucks and buses takes effect at 3 p.m. Saturday and continues through Sunday. State Police will be out enforcing it.
Other motorists are urged to stay off the roads as well.
“If you do not need to be on the road, people should not be on the road. Let us do the emergency operations. Let the emergency personnel get out there. Let the plows get out there,” Cuomo said. “One stuck car on the road can back up everything.”
“We’re going to have a lot of personnel out there putting there lives on the line to keep us safe. Let’s help make their job easier,” the governor added.
During Saturday’s news conference, Governor Cuomo was joined by several local leaders, including Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.
Other speakers stressed the importance of staying safe in the extreme cold weather that’s in the forecast, urging people to stay inside and not allow their children to go sledding or partake in other winter activities until the temperatures warm up.
Poloncarz noted frostbite can set in within 15 minutes when temperatures plummet like they will Sunday.
Brown said all of the Code Blue shelters in the city are open this weekend, and crews are working to get people into the shelters to keep them safe.