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CNN Today

Commissioner of Buffalo Emergency Services Discusses Response to Massive Snowfall

Aired November 21, 2000 - 2:05 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Today, emergency workers are busy trying to get all the cars and trucks off the road, as well as the snow. And taking a moment to talk with us by telephone is Mike Walters, the commissioner of emergency series in Buffalo.

Thank you so much for joining us, Mr. Walters. What's the latest? Are you still having to try to help people along in Buffalo?

MIKE WALTERS, BUFFALO EMERGENCY SERVICES: Well, we're not finished yet. We've still got a great deal to do yet, but things are beginning to improve: We're starting to open up some of the major arteries and getting help out there and cleaning up.

ALLEN: Would you say the city is still, for the most part, paralyzed and not going anywhere?

WALTERS: No, they've shown some improvement, and they're beginning to clear some of the main arteries, and the side streets will be next. We got a lot of help downtown Buffalo from the state and the Guard, and we're getting there.

ALLEN: Well, the pictures are incredible. We're seeing some videotape of cars literally just stuck on the roads in all this snow.

What was it like when this first started breaking out last night and your office got word of it, and how in the world did you respond when this first started happening?

WALTERS: Well, actually, we were aware of it and began to release people from the county office building and some of the other larger buildings in Buffalo -- began to release people, but the storm, as you know, came real quickly. And the way you get in and out of Buffalo is there's several main arteries, and they got blocked up pretty quick. And that's what accounted for the gridlock.

ALLEN: As far as you know, then, are most people safe and accounted for?

WALTERS: Yes, at this time we're not counting any fatalities from this blizzard. We certainly know that there are a great many stories like the one we just heard, and we're anxious for all those folks to get home and get in a warm spot. ALLEN: Well, thank goodness for that, and that just shows the hardiness of the folks in Buffalo that they came through this all right.

Thanks so much, Mike Walters, for talking with us.

WALTERS: You're welcome.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: So people ask me why, having grown up in Chicago, I would not live in Chicago again. That's why.

ALLEN: There's your answer.

CHEN: Because you end up looking at screens like that. Boy, those people of Buffalo are tough

ALLEN: And those of us, like me, who grew up in the south, think: Oh, wouldn't that be fun, but I have no idea.

CHEN: No idea, that's right, no idea.

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