With new record snowfalls happening, maintaining public safety is a top priority for local governments. Leonard Matarese, ICMA-CM, is director of Research and Project Development for CPSM, LLC, ICMA's exclusive provider of public safety technical assistance. He is based in Buffalo where some communities have seen 90 inches of snow in 36 hours. "We're used to lake effect snow but this is truly historic," Matarese said. Based on his 40 plus years in public safety, including stints in hurricane-prone South Florida, he shares these keys to keeping residents safe:
- The key issue is restricting travel. We have dozens of vehicles trapped in snow on the Interstate with people stuck in them for over 30 hours. One person was found dead in car in snow drift. So not only are these people at risk but the stuck cars make the plowing much more difficult.
- Many of the cities and school boards used reverse 911 to robo call residents telling people not to drive and to announce shutdowns. The big problem here now is that the snow band is less than 10 miles wide so most people in the area are in sun and have little snow. They have to be warned that even though they are clear they should not drive anywhere near the hit areas.
- Police need to warn people of the danger of staying in the car with engine running. The tail pipe needs to be clear if the car is running.
- People traveling need to have warm clothes, food, and water in the car. One town has over 90 inches of snow in just 36 hours.
- Shoveling this level of snowfall is very dangerous regardless of fitness level. We need to warn residents about the risks--we have had five die of heart attacks while shoveling snow.
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