From plowing roads and driveways, digging out stranded motorists, transporting people to safer locations, getting food and medical care to those in need and extending a warm and friendly hand of hope to people who had quite literally felt their lives were in danger, Genesee County officials and emergency responders took some moments this week to celebrate bravery, extraordinary efforts and well-deserved kudos for their ongoing work during Blizzard Elliott in late December.
County legislators read proclamations honoring each district within the county, as emergency responders gathered in camaraderie to share highlights of that three-day ordeal. The breadth and scope of the rescues, though attempted through stories, news reports and online posts, have still probably missed some of the myriad elements involved during those blindingly snow-blanketed days.
Once Elliott blew through the northwest corner of the county, “raging its fury on the Town of Alabama and surrounding areas, causing life-threatening circumstances to many travelers and farm animals,” the proclamation begins, “and Blizzard Elliott debilitated this district in a very short time, causing roadways to be unpassable. With the quick action of so many, it is easy to say we have heroes amongst us.”
Genesee County assisted more than 700 travelers, with dispatch taking 1,021 service calls and first responders rescuing 125 people. Approximately 240 cars and 60 tractor-trailers were stuck in drifts as high as 10-feet, county officials said, and 12 warming shelters were opened in surrounding areas. Hundreds of vehicles were pulled out of ditches by tow trucks, farmers, firefighters and good Samaritans.
“The Genesee County Legislature recognizes and admires our dedicated law enforcement, firefighters, emergency management, highway, elected leaders, food banks, schools, churches, tow truck operators, snowmobile clubs, local businesses and citizens who all rose to the occasion when others needed help,” the proclamation states. “Now, therefore, be it resolved the Genesee County Legislature would like to thank you ALL for the available forces of manpower, equipment and community helping hands that came together. The goal of preserving life was focused on and achieved. Volunteers who left their families to search for and save visitors are our most valued community members.
“Thank you to the warming shelters for providing safety, food and care to stranded visitors, thus demonstrating the high level of dedication we have for humankind in Genesee County. We extend our gratitude and respect for your community response to Elliott,” it states.
Likewise, Sheriff William Sheron, Emergency Management Services Coordinator Tim Yaeger and County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens shared about the high level of cooperation and collaboration amongst the county’s emergency service and highway providers, and how that made such a difference in the results during that winter storm. There were no fatalities.
“Thank you for the service we have here in Genesee County,” Sheron said. “Undoubtedly, you have saved lives. We wouldn’t be able to survive without you guys. What a team effort. I can’t thank you enough, from the bottom of our hearts.”
Hens also thanked everyone and said he was proud to represent the town and village highway superintendents and city public works. Everyone “put aside barriers” and got the job done to ensure that roads were cleared when possible.
“I want to recognize their efforts. They all came to the call,” he said. “It’s truly remarkable how our community comes together.”
A nod of thanks and appreciation was also given to County Manager Matt Landers, who worked throughout that Christmas weekend helping to rally friends for food donations and, with his daughter as sidekick helper, drove around to pick up items and get them to the staging area of the city fire station.
Photos by Howard Owens Top Photo of Emergency Management Services Coordinator Tim Yaeger at the podium as Sheriff William Sheron looks on during the proclamation ceremony.
County Legislators John Deleo and Marianne Clattenburg watch a video about Winter Storm Elliott that was produced by the Town of Alabama Highway Department.
Legislator Marianne Clattenburg with (not in order) Gary Patnode, Alabama Fire Chief, David Boyle, Village of Oakfield, Nate Fix and Anthony Johnston of SnoPackers, Sean Downing, Oakfield Fire Chief, and Oakfield Assistant Fire Chief Chad Williams;
Legislator Christian Yunker with (not in order) Vito Muoio, South Byron Fire, Jeremy Rassel, South Byron Fire, Garett Dean, Bergen Fire, Robert Mruczek, Byron Fire Chief, Nick Esten, Elba Fire Chief, and Gretchen Rosales, superintendent of Elba School District.
Legislator Gordon Dibble with LuAnne Mileham, Ed Mileham, Indian Falls/Pembroke Assistant Fire Chief, Greg Lang, Corfu Fire Chief, and Jeff Luker, Darien Fire Chief.
Legislator Brooks Hawley with (not in order) Christopher Scopano, LeRoy Ambulance, Tim Eckdahl, Stafford Fire Chief, Craig Johnson, LeRoy Fire Chief, and Paul Dibble, Town of Batavia Fire Chief.
Legislator Gregg Torrey with Jeff Fluker, Bethany Fire Chief, left, Carl Hyde Jr., Bethany Town Supervisor, right.
Legislator John Deleo, Euguene Jankowski Jr., City Council President, Jeffrey Bartz, Grace Baptist Church, Bob Fix, City of Batavia Fire, and Christopher Camp, Batavia City Assistant Police Chief.
Legislator Gary Maha, with (not in order) Pam McCarthy, Mercy EMS, Sheriff William Sheron, Undersheriff Bradley Mazur, Sgt. Kyle Krzemien, Deputy Jonathan Dimming, Deputy Jacob Kipler, Highway Superintendent Tim Hens, Superintendent, Tim Yaeger, Emergency Management Services Coordinator, Frank Riccobono, Communications Director, Scott Hultz, NYSDOT Resident Engineer for Genesee & Orleans Counties, and Jeff Braley, NYSDOT Resident Engineer for Genesee & Orleans Counties.
Sheriff William Sheron.
County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens
Marianne Clattenburg thanks County Manager Matt Landers for his efforts and leadership during the storm.