Emergency coordinator explains need for state of emergency declaration in Genesee County
In order to enact a travel ban today, Bob Bausch, chairman of the Genesee County Legislature, signed a letter at 2 p.m. today declaring a state of emergency and that state of emergency is expected to be in place through tomorrow.
The travel ban could be lifted this evening, though, said Tim Yaeger, emergency management coordinator.
"It was busy," Yaeger said. "It came in fairly quickly around noonish and started hitting very quickly. It has started to subside a little bit. Now, it's quieted down quite a bit. We're expecting the lake effect to move south but then reenter back into Genesee County tomorrow during the day."
Besides enabling the sheriff to declare a state of emergency, it gives county officials additional power, though Yaeger said there's no plans to, say, impose a curfew or ban alcohol sales. The county has also not used the state of emergency to ask for assistance from other counties or the state.
"We're continuing to monitor it at the point that we checked with our highway department superintendent and he's checking with the municipalities," Yaeger said. "But because the amount of snow at this point is manageable, we're going to continue to manage that. But that option is always open but at this point (no assistance) is needed."
Even as the snowfall slows down, the county remains on a ready footing. Each county fire department has personnel at their fire halls, City fire has extra personnel on duty, and the local law enforcement agencies have extra officers on patrol.
The Emergency Management Center is operating as a command center but Yaeger said it is at a "level 3" standard of operation.
"We are open and active and we're monitoring the weather and monitoring phone calls that are coming in the different situations so we have good situational awareness of what's going on in the county, so we can react to any of needs that may come up," Yaeger said.
The travel ban serves two primary purposes, Yaeger explained. It helps keep the public safe but it also helps keep first responders safe.
"The weather is our concern with the public out there," Yaeger said, "then the first responders trying to do their their work, to respond to emergencies, first to gain access there and then to be in these elements is extremely dangerous."
In this weather, it's especially important for first responders to get to stranded motorists quickly and safely.
"Because of the extreme cold you cannot be in those elements, or be in a vehicle and not be able to move and not have heat in your car," Yaeger said. "It is not safe at any point."