New York and Vermont Respond Differently to Winter Storm

By Steph Machado

Published 02/05 2014 06:55PM

Updated 02/05 2014 07:27PM

Another day, another storm. And another tow job for Rod West of BlackFork Towing, who we met after he pulled a van out of the snow during Wednesday's snow storm.

"He wound up sliding into the median," he said. Not uncommon in Vermont, or across the lake in New York, which was hit by the same storm. But the two states' planning and response could not have been more different.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a State of Emergency Wednesday morning, consistently issuing press releases with updates on road conditions, eventually asking New York residents not to drive at all. He outlined the plan for clearing the roads, and held a conference call with the media.

"Mother Nature always wins in the end when she wants, but we've done everything we can do to be ready," Gov. Cuomo said.

In stark contrast, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin spent the day in Las Vegas at a pre-planned Home Builder's Show. As of Wednesday evening, his office did not return our request for comment, where we asked if he considered cancelling his trip during the several days' notice of the storm.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott was left in charge, and he says he's been in a similar scenario before.

"I was just sworn in, and about a week or two later there was a blizzard that hit Vermont, and the Governor was away," Scott said. "That was a severe snow storm, where we had to close state offices."

Mark Bosma from the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security points out state leaders don't want to over-hype every storm.

"If we 'cried wolf' so to speak, people would start to tune us out," Bosma said. He said it's a balancing act, since they do want to warn the public to stay safe. He pointed to social media accounts like @511VT and @VEMVT, which list road conditions and alerts.

"If you continue to warn people to stay off the roads and the weather isn't as bad as you thought, then they don't believe you next time when it really is," said Lt. Gov. Scott.

And as our tow truck driver Rod West points out...this isn't our first rodeo.

"This is winter, it's winter in Vermont. We ought to be conditioned to it by now," he said.

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