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Giambra says October Surprise response was appropriate

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Former County Executive Joel Giambra says he did the right thing in cleaning up the October Surprise storm, no matter what Washington says more than six years later.The former county executive says he's more than a little mystified by the report from the Homeland Security Department's inspector general saying nearly $49 million in cleanup costs were misspent. He says he suspects County Executive Mark Poloncarz is right that this is really a Washington feud.

The agency says the cleanup should have been open to contractors across the country and local officials were to use regular competitive bidding rules and timetables.

Giambra says FEMA had never before questioned using local contractors. He says there were state and federal emergency management workers here watching the entire process.

"Had I waited ten days when people were dying because their dialysis machines weren't functioning because they didn't have power, I probably would have been run out of town on a rail. I don't regret anything that we did back then," Giambra said.

The former executive says once the storm hit, he had to get the power back on, the streets open, and life back to normal.

"The day the storm hit, we had to take decisive, immediate action, which we did. Back then I said, as I would say today, if there is a chance to get local contractors to be participants in this cleanup, we're going to do that. Number one, because it makes economic sense. Number two is that they have a familiarity with the area. It's not like they have to learn the streets. And, number three, it was much more cost-effective to do it that way," Giambra said.

As to where the records are, Giambra says he was county executive, not a records clerk.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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