Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Thursday that he dispatched support from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to aid in emergency snow removal efforts in the state of New York following an “epic, once-in-a-lifetime” weather disaster responsible for killing over two dozen people.
A convoy of 28 ODOT workers, 12 tandem dump trucks, two utility mechanic trucks, and four crew cab pick-up trucks departed from Ashtabula Wednesday morning for a six-day deployment. The ODOT crew consists of highway technicians, mechanics, and managers from District 4 (Akron), District 11 (New Philadelphia), and District 12 (Cleveland).
“ODOT snowplow drivers and mechanics have been remarkable during this Christmas winter storm. We are happy to help our neighbors in New York state and know that they would do the same for us in Ohio if the situation was reversed,” DeWine said.
The New York Emergency Management Agency made the request for personnel and equipment to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency via the Emergency Management Compact (EMAC) on Tuesday. EMAC offers assistance during governor-declared emergencies or disasters through a responsive, straightforward system that allows states to send personnel, equipment, and commodities to assist with response and recovery efforts in other states.
According to the National Weather Service, nearly 50 inches of snow was measured at Buffalo Airport as of Monday morning.
New York remains in a state of emergency with over 27 deceased, including cases of people found in snow banks and in cars or who had died from cardiac stress while plowing or blowing heavy snow; roadways remain littered with cars, buses, ambulances, tow trucks and even plows buried beneath towering drifts, complicating efforts to clear snow. Although thousands of New Yorkers had power restored as of Monday morning, over 14,000 customers were still without power, according to poweroutage.us.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul and local officials have ranked this as the worst Buffalo-area snowstorm since a 1977 blizzard that killed nearly 30 people and said it would go down in history as “the Blizzard of ’22.”
“This is a historic storm, and I want to thank everyone in storm-impacted areas for their patience and compliance with local travel ordinances. While we continue our recovery efforts, including requesting a federal emergency declaration, I encourage everyone to continue to look after one another, stay home, and check in on loved ones and neighbors so that we all come out of this safely,” Governor Hochul said.
The team from ODOT is traveling from Interstate 90 to western New York. Local authorities will provide route assignment upon the team’s arrival. The crews will work two 12-hour shifts and will return to Ohio on January 3rd, 2023.
“The men and women of ODOT are the best at what they do. I know they’ll work hard to help our neighbors in New York. At the end of the day, we’re all Americans,” ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks said.
With a statewide fleet of almost 1,600 plows, ODOT will maintain enough plows and drivers for Ohio’s winter operation when the need for snow removal arises during the convoy’s deployment.
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]