Legislator, GOP respond to release of the Erie County blizzard report

The Erie County GOP chairman is blasting the County Executive for the Friday release of the report, while the legislature is eager to work on what the county needs.

Author: Nate Benson (WGRZ)

Published: 8:14 PM EDT August 19, 2023

Updated: 11:22 PM EDT August 19, 2023



ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — Erie County quietly released its Christmas Blizzard after-action report on Friday. The overall consensus from the multi-department report is that communication and upgrades are needed throughout county government. 

“We wanted the documents released,” Erie County Legislator Howard Johnson said. “I know there’s areas that we can improve on, county, city, and state.”

The 50-page report consists of individual after-action department reports. The Department of Health provided the most information, 13 pages worth. 

The county health department said that county departments need to “review, revise, and rehearse” its mass fatality plan. The department cites that it’s a complicated plan that involves so many agencies.

The health department wants to hire a consultant to write a “comprehensive plan” for the county. 

“You can’t put a can’t put a price tag on the safety of people,” Johnson said. 

The legislature is on recess and will resume meetings in September. Johnson said there hasn’t been any specific requests for increased department budgets for the upcoming year. 

Many departments, however, indicated in the report that more equipment upgrades are needed, including the emergency operations center in Cheektowaga. 

“It is something that we’re going to take serious, something want to look at something want to discuss,” Johnson said. “It’s probably gonna be one of the first things we dive into once we come back from recess.” 

2 On Your Side reached out to a spokesperson for the minority caucus of the legislature, but none of the legislators were available for a comment. 

Erie County Republican party chairman Michael Kracker released a statement saying:

“Classic document dump by Mark Poloncarz on a late Friday night, hoping taxpayers ignore his mismanagement of a deadly blizzard that needlessly cost lives. What is most revealing is what the County Executive purposely left out: his bizarre decision to launch petulant political attacks on Mayor Byron Brown instead of focusing on saving lives. While people froze to death in homes and cars, Mark Poloncarz ignored his responsibility to help and instead chose to fight with fellow elected leaders. Let that sink in. In this report, the County Executive did not include one of the most critical reasons why lives were lost: Mark Poloncarz picked fights and attacked other elected leaders instead of spending quality time leading blizzard management efforts. Mark Poloncarz won’t take responsibility for the needless deaths during a blizzard, similar to how he won’t own up to welcoming migrants to Erie County with open arms, who in turn are accused of committing rapes and sexual assaults. It is time for a change. Erie County will resoundingly reject an out-of-touch career politician who cares more about his fragile ego than protecting the people he is supposed to serve.”

You can read the full report below.