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Hamburg Day 3: Frustration builds but outside help starting to arrive

Hamburg town highway crews, working 16-hour shifts, have slept at the Highway Department on Lakeview Road for the past three days.

“About four went home. Another 10 are still here, going to sleep, the other 12 on the road,” Highway Superintendent Tom Best Sr. said.

But the plows can’t couldn’t keep up with the snow Thursday.

It usually takes five to 10 minutes to clear a street a quarter of a mile or less, he said. But now it takes someone to make sure there are no cars stranded, then a high-lift and then a plow go down the street.

“Now it takes three to four hours to do a street,” he said. “By the time we get done with it might as well start over.”

Best said he’s as frustrated as residents are.

“We need an army,” Best said. “I still haven’t seen the National Guard. I’m getting frustrated myself. Our main concern now is for life and safety.”

Hamburg Supervisor Steven Walters said the town has gotten help from the National Guard with four Humvees, and volunteer firefighters from the Northtowns are helping out volunteer fire companies, spelling firefighters and EMTs so they can get some rest.

The Town of Webster in Monroe County is sending four or five pieces of equipment, but those highway crews couldn’t get on the closed Thruway to get it here, he said. The town has hired contractors as well.

“This is going to be an awful expensive venture for the Town of Hamburg,” he said.

While crews are out 24-hours a day, they don’t seem to be making a dent, he said.

“I think it’s worse than ‘77, I worked as a cop then and it was bad, but it didn’t seem to be as intense in such a short period of time,” Best said. “It’s crazy, we’re not getting a break here.”

He said once the snow stops, it will take about two-and-a-half days to reach all the streets in the town.

Also Thursday, the Hamburg Town Board mustered two board members to conduct a meeting to adopt the 2015 budget.

The board had planned to pass the budget at its regular meeting last week, but two members of the three-member board couldn’t attend and they could not hold the meeting. Wednesday’s special meeting was canceled, but the board had to pass the budget by Thursday or the tentative budget, without changes made by the board, would have gone into effect.

It was a sparsely attended meeting, and even the town clerk couldn’t get there.

“They couldn’t get me off my street , they tried,” Town Clerk Cathy Rybczynski (CQ) said.

Police came to get her, but could not get down her street, she said. Supervisor Steven Walters and Member Michael Quinn conducted the meeting, and passed the budget.

Walters said Board Member Michael Quinn walked to a convenience store about a half mile from house, and a friend drove him to Town Hall.

A police all-terrain vehicle was sent to pick up Board Member Cheryl Potter-Juda and Town Clerk Cathy Rybczynski, but it got stuck on Rybczynski’s street. Walters talked to both, and the meeting proceeded without them. Police Chief Michael Williams took the minutes for the two-minute meeting.

Hamburg, like other areas, has been working to get supply trucks into supermarkets and gas stations, and is hoping for a respite on Friday.

“Even the roads that are in good shape, relatively speaking, are not in good shape,” he said. “People have ventured out, think they could do it now, and they get stuck.”

- Barbara O’Brien

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