EXCLUSIVE: Damaged homes may not qualify for FEMA money

Posted at 4:32 PM, Dec 08, 2014
and last updated 2015-12-03 16:32:52-05

County Executive Mark Poloncarz told 7 Eyewitness News the number of deaths, after the November storm, now stands at 14.

A Hamburg man died in the hospital, about a week after the storm.

MORE | Our special section on the Snowvember storms has more info on the 12 other deaths in Erie County and one in Genesee County, incredible video from the storms as well as multiple photo galleries

The storm was costly for Erie County. Poloncarz says the county has spent nearly $8 million on various expenses.

"Will we get 100 percent of our local money back, I don't think so.  I'd be happy if we get 50 percent back.  We're going to hope and push for the most but knowing FEMA, they always fight," Poloncarz said.

Last week, Orchard Park reported about $1 million in storm costs. Many smaller municipalities and local governments are still totaling their costs.

"FEMA does not cover private expenses.  So we've been getting a lot of calls from people saying, where do I put my claim into FEMA and my response is if you're government we can claim it, if you're an individual you better call your insurance company," Poloncarz said.

Many towns and villages needed help from the county and state. Poloncarz again urged those municipalities to use the D-Lan system when a natural disaster strikes.

Training for that system, the County Executive said, has been implemented for years. Some government officials have chosen not to attend those trainings, Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz specifically pointed to the Town of Boston, as an example of government leaders not using the system.

The county will hold additional training courses next week.

Poloncarz was not critical of the Thruway Authority. He believes the authority acted in a timely manner. He believes, if anything, the Thruway Authority could have done a better job alerting drivers to the closures.

In a debrief with 7 Eyewitness News, Poloncarz says the County could have used the '211' system better. The County Executive also would have liked to have a sign language interpreter at all press conferences.

Overall, Poloncarz said he believes the county acted responsibly and effectively during a "freak" storm.

"This was just a once in a lifetime storm that unless we had a number of days notice we could have then contacted the state and others for additional resources, I don't think anyone could have done it differently," Poloncarz said.