Fillmore District councilman calls for an official inquiry into the city’s response during blizzard which caused over 43 deaths

With two more blizzard-related deaths confirmed Friday, Councilman Mitch Nowakowski calls for an official inquiry in to the city’s response to the blizzard

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz confirmed Friday that there were two more blizzard-related deaths in Erie County.

The death toll, countywide, is now 43. The overwhelming majority of deaths occurred in the City of Buffalo.

“It’s important that after this experience, we look inward,” Fillmore District Common Council member Mitch Nowakowski said. “We see what deficiencies happened, what we did good and we formulate a response to be better because there’s always room for improvement.”

Nowakowski on Friday called for an official inquiry into the city’s response to the storm. As part of that inquiry, the Fillmore District councilman sent a letter with 21 bulletpoints worth of questions to Mayor Byron Brown’s office. You can read the letter at the bottom of this story.

Earlier this week, Mayor Brown called announced a study with New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service will release that analyzes the city’s response.

In the wake of the storm, Mayor Brown called for patience when it came to ideas about what the city needs to respond to future storms.

“We don’t want to knee jerk reaction to things,” Mayor Brown said. “We don’t want to act out of emotion, this community does not have the resources to do that.”

Mayor Brown then announced a new commissioner position that will report directly to him, a so-called fleet director that will oversee the equipment of the DPW, as well as the fire and police departments.

This new commissioner be paid an estimated $110,000 to $120,000 per year, according to the mayor.

Nowakowsi says he and other councilmembers believe the city needs an emergency services manager above anything else.

“I want to stress to folks that we have small municipalities in comparison to Buffalo, like Hamburg and Amherst, who have a full time emergency manager who not only coordinates but plans and deploys a coordinated emergency effort during natural disasters,” Nowakowski said.

Currently, the responsibility of emergency manager falls upon the shoulders of Fire Commissioner William Renaldo.

A city spokesperson has confirmed  that Renaldo was not in Buffalo during the height of the storm and was out of town tending to a family matter.

Nowakowski said that the entire responsibility of emergency management shouldn’t be the fire commissioners.



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