Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency in Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Genesee, Wyoming and eight other counties Monday as the bitter cold and wind swept the area.
He also activated the Incident Response Force of the New York National Guard, including 208 national guard personnel, to help in the affected areas.
Those are two four actions announced late Monday afternoon. Cuomo also ordered the state Department of Transportation and the Thruway to redirect plows, personnel and snow removal equipment from eastern and southern areas of the state to the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario area.
The storm is “truly difficult and dangerous,” Cuomo said, adding the state is taking it very seriously.
“Western New Yorkers have experience with snow, but this is something different. This is snow plus extraordinary arctic cold and wind and a very long duration of about 36 hours,” Cuomo said. “The combination, we believe, is going to be challenging and dangerous.”
He said there were 236 plows on site, and the state is sending 420 additional plows to the affected regions, as well as about 1,000 state personnel to assist in the operation.
The governor also ordered the closing Monday night of the Thruway from the Williamsville toll barrier to the Pennsylvania line, and Routes 400 and 219 in Erie County.
“It gets very difficult when a road is left open, cars become stranded, it’s dangerous for the occupants of the cars, and it makes it virtually impossible for us to clear the roads,” Cuomo said.
The governor said he had spoken with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. He said government has an important role to play.
“But people also have a role to play. You have to be smart, you have to be prudent. This is not the time to be taking risks for yourself or your family,” he said.
Cuomo suggested New Yorkers be prudent and stay off the roads if possible, and check on their neighbors.
“We will get through this, because we’re New Yorkers, and this is what we do,” Cuomo said.