Federal emergency declared after storm; north country continues to dig out

The federal government is sending direct assistance to New York, after declaring an emergency due to the storm that piled feet of snow in the north country and Western New York over the weekend.

On Saturday, Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul requested that the Biden administration declare a federal emergency for 11 counties hit hardest by the storms; Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Oswego, Genesee, Erie, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Niagara, Oneida and Wyoming, as well as communities contiguous to those counties.

That declaration was approved Sunday night, allowing direct federal funding to cover the costs of the local and state response and freeing up federal staffing and support for emergency operations, like search and rescue and emergency engineering work to protect essential infrastructure.

“I thank President Biden for immediately granting our emergency declaration request and for our ongoing strong partnership, as well as Senator Schumer for his assistance in securing relief for New Yorkers,” Gov. Hochul said in a news release. “My team and I will continue working around the clock to keep everyone safe, help communities dig out, and secure every last dollar to help rebuild and recover from this unprecedented, record-shattering historic winter storm.”

The state-issued state of emergency remains in effect, with state resources still in use across the region to help clear the feet of snow. More than 80 inches of snow fell in Orchard Park, the Erie County home of the Buffalo Bills. N