BATAVIA — Genesee County shelters accommodated about 700 people Friday night who needed a place to stay after being stranded during the winter storm that hit the area, the county’s Office of Emergency Services coordinator said Monday.
“All shelters housed approximately 30 to 100 people from Friday evening …” Coordinator Tim Yaeger said. “Many private homes in the Alabama and Oakfield area provided shelter for stranded motorists.”
The shelters, which were closed by around 8 p.m. Sunday, also included the Alabama, Oakfield, East Pembroke, Pembroke, Indian Falls and Elba fire departments; Yellow Goose in Oakfield, Alabama Hotel, Elba Central School and Grace Baptist Church in Batavia.
There were a number of agencies from Genesee County involved in the rescue response and helping with sheltering and food distribution, including the 911 Communications Center, county Sheriff’s Office, all county volunteer fire services, County Manager Matt Landers’ office, Yaeger’s office, county Highway Department. The city of Batavia Police Department and Department of Public Works and City Manager Rachael Tabelski’s office were involved as well, as were Mercy EMS and Le Roy EMS;and New York State Police, state fire personnel, state Office of Emergency Management and Department of Transportation. Rochester Regional Health-United Memorial Medical Center helped with the effort, as did county and local government officials, Yaeger said. Assistance also came from other counties through the Orleans and Livingston county sheriff’s offices and the Monroe County Fire Bureau.
“Many local restaurants, businesses and churches donated food. Many local contractors and residents assisted in the cleanup and food donations.
Tabelski said Yaeger asked City Fire Chief Joshua Graham for food donations for the shelters on Christmas Eve.
“Those were transported by Police Chief Shawn Heubusch and DPW Director Brett Frank to multiple shelter locations,” she said. “The city played a support role in the storm response coordinated by Tim Yaeger.”
City of Batavia Fire Department Capt. Robert Fix II, city firefighters and Tabelski said there were pallets of items sent from the state. They were sitting in the city Fire Department waiting to be taken elsewhere.
“There were pallets unloaded at the city Fire Department. That was Saturday. City Fire became a station to bring in donations and hot food. That was delivered out to the various shelters in Genesee County on Christmas Eve,” Tabelski said. “There are MREs — meals ready to eat; pillows; blankets; and water. Those were from the state of New York.”
City firefighters said they had 24 pallets of donations to be distributed, although some of the items had already been given out, they said.
Fix said the pallets they had at the station would be going to Erie County.
“We don’t know that for sure. We’ve just been told to prepare it to be ready to go,” he said Monday afternoon. “A truck could be here in 10 minutes, it could be here in five hours. I don’t know when they’re coming to get it.”
Fix said the department responded to reported water line breaks and sprinkler head problems in buildings that were closed for the holidays.
“We’ve had three today, since 7:30 this morning,” he said Monday. “We’ve been to Tops and Taco Bell. Tops had two different breaks, but they remain open. Taco Bell is closed (as of Monday). They’ve got to get a plumber.”
Fix said personnel were trying to “get the station put back together.”
“We’ve been off our usual schedule of training and cleaning and usual maintenance. It was a busy weekend,” he said.
Chris Scheiner of Park Avenue was shoveling the sidewalk near his house Monday, while wrapping up a four-day weekend. Scheiner, a county Planning Department employee, said he was off Friday when county offices closed due to the severe weather forecast and on Monday in observance of the Christmas holiday. He said he didn’t have any problems with traveling or being stranded anywhere while the storm was going on.
“I did my last Christmas shopping on Thursday and then I hunkered down and waited for the snow to go by,” he said.
Scheiner said he had some friends who woke up early Friday morning and left the area for the holidays before the winter storm arrived. Others didn’t have plans to go anywhere, he said.
At Centennial Park Monday, Jason Lendvay and his son, A.J., had been sledding for a little while and then sat down on the hill to chat with relatives via phone.
“We were in the area (on the weekend) — no problems for us, just inconvenience and that type of stuff,” he said. As far as plans to visit anyone over the holiday weekend he said the only plans were to see people in town. Lendvay said he wasn’t on the road much over the weekend.
“Our neighbor plowed our driveway out,” he said.