Biden Declares Emergency for Snowed-In New York Counties
President Joseph Biden on Sunday night declared that an emergency exists in the state of New York and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local response efforts following the severe snowstorm that began late last week and continued over the weekend.
The approval was in response to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s request for a federal emergency declaration for the 11 counties of Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Lewis, Niagara, Oneida, Oswego, St. Lawrence, and Wyoming.
The federal emergency declaration gives the state access to federal funding to support ongoing response and rescue operations. Emergency protective measures including direct federal assistance will be provided at 75% federal funding.
In addition to requesting the federal declaration, Gov. Hochul on Sunday afternoon provided an update on the storm effects and response including that:
- Total accumulations of more than six feet of snow were reported in Orchard Park, Blasdell, and Hamburg in Erie County, and more than six feet of snow was reported in the Watertown and Fort Drum area, with peak snowfall rates of six inches per hour in Erie County and five inches per hour in Jefferson County.
- More than 100 National Guard members have been deployed to Erie County to assist residents and local storm response.
- The New York State Thruway has reopened to all traffic and all commercial vehicle travel restrictions have been lifted; exit 55 (Lackawanna) remains closed to all traffic to support closure of route 219; exit 56 (Blasdell) and exit 57 (Hamburg) remain closed to commercial traffic.
- A travel ban remains in effect for parts of Erie County and city of Buffalo, including towns of Orchard Park, Hamburg and Evans; parts of Route 219 in Erie county remain closed.
New York Attorney General Letitia James issued an alert reminding consumers and businesses in Western New York and the North Country against price gouging. New York law prevents businesses from taking advantage of consumers by selling essential goods or services at an excessively higher price during market disruptions or a declared state of emergency.
It is too soon to know about related insurance claims activity as the area is just getting back to business today. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the most common winter claims include damage from the weight of accumulated snow on a house or other insured structure; wind damage to roofs; damage from fallen tree limbs; ice damage; and damage from frozen or burst pipes.
Winter storms caused a record $15 billion nationally in insured losses in 2021, according to Aon.