Thu January 9, 2014
City defends lack of travel ban in Buffalo during storm
The City of Buffalo says crews are hard at work removing snow from secondary and residential side streets from this week's blizzard. But as WBFO's Eileen Buckley reports, the media on Wednesday pressed one city official about why Buffalo never issued a travel ban during the height of the storm.
"We didn't feel it was warrant to do an independent one because we were all in this. It was all out there," said Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak.
Stepniak met with reporters inside the city's Broadway garage, a hub of snow-fighting equipment and a huge pile of salt.
Stepniak said the city followed Erie County's travel advisory that kept many citizens off Buffalo streets.
"We are part of the county. We work well with them, so I didn't think there was any matter to do that," said Stepniak.
During past major weather events, the Brown Administration would hold media briefings. But this time, no news conferences were held by city leaders. Reporters who wanted a comment had to request an interview with the the mayor, who conducted one-on-one interviews with various media outlets.
WBFO News asked Stepnik why the city didn't hold any briefings after the blizzard warning was issued. Stepniak denied that the city "downplayed" a major weather event.
"It's not a downplay. We were fully engulfed in our preparation and preparing and did a good job with the storm. There was no downplay. The word was out there," said Stepniak.
Stepniak said the mayor was very "engaged" and "involved" in monitoring the path of the storm. He says the mayor even traveled around the city to review the snowfall and weather conditions.
"He's (mayor) is very interested. He sends me a text like every half-hour going over everything, so the mayor is very involved in the whole process," noted Stepniak.
The commissioner noted that the biggest challenge during the storm for crews was the whiteout conditions and not the snowfall amounts.
More than 40 pieces of snow fighting equipment were working to clear city streets Wednesday.
The National Weather Service says 7.2 inches of snow fell Wednesday in Buffalo breaking the old record of 6.6 inches set back in 1942.