New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard is helping clear snow and rescue stranded motorists.
“They’re running against time, though, because there’s another storm system coming through that could dump another 2 to 3 feet of snow,” Hems said.
Thomas Connery, president of New England Motor Freight, said four of his drivers were stranded on the Thruway for 30 to 35 hours, but they since have been able to return to the terminal.
"Fortunately, those drivers were prepared and they had sufficient fuel, warm clothing and food with them," Connery said.
Connery said his terminal in Tonawanda, New York, with about 50 drivers, was shut down mid-day on Nov. 18.
"We put a few drivers out today (Nov. 19), but with the major roads closed around the area we haven't been able to move or deliver much freight in the last 36 hours," Connery said.
In some areas, snow fell at a rate of 6 to 7 inches an hour, building to 6 feet in 24 hours, Hems said.
“Even having your full force of plows dispatched, there was no way they were going to keep up with that rate of snow, so, it’s a horrible situation,” she said.
The National Weather Service has said the storm could break records for heavy snowfall.
There is anger and frustration among some truckers and others about whether the Thruway was prepared for the storm and whether it should have closed earlier than it did, Hems said.
Tandem trucks were ordered off at about 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, and within two hours, the stretch of the highway running east-west through Buffalo into Pennsylvania was closed, she added.
Right now, the most important task is to rescue stranded motorists and get vehicles off the roads so they can be reopened, Hems said.
“I think their decision to shut the road was made in a fairly timely fashion based on the information they were given,” she added. “I think where the questions are going to be and what needs to be discussed to hopefully prevent this in the future is ‘OK, well, now you’ve shut the road down, what do we do about getting everybody off it and where do you put everybody that’s trying to get on it?’ ”
UPS said it shut down operations in Buffalo Nov. 19 because the roads were closed. As for Nov.20, "if the roads are open, we'll be on then," said UPS spokesman Dan McMackin.
Source: Transport Topics