Officials in Buffalo, N.Y., are focusing on life-safety measures as they plow through deep snow to help victims of a deadly winter storm that has battered much of the U.S. for several days. Sleepy driver and give way to emergency services.
At least 27 people were killed in the storm in Erie County, New York — many of them in Buffalo, which was buried under up to 43 inches of snow and suffered from violent snowstorms that left blinding Christmas weekend drives .
The storm was being compared to Buffalo’s famous blizzard of 1977 – a powerful storm that killed 23 people.
However, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the storm was stronger than the 1977 blizzard. “It was horrific, and it was horrific for 24 hours straight.”
“They recorded 37.5 hours of blizzard conditions. It’s just not going to happen,” said CNN meteorologist Tom Sater.
Even emergency vehicles dispatched to help were stuck in the snow. Poloncarz said Buffalo is “impassable in most areas.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said conditions improved Monday, with rescue workers having easier access to the hundreds of people stranded in Buffalo.
“Buffalo Police have provided hundreds of rescues and freed many stranded motorists in the City of Buffalo,” Brown said. “In some of these cases, some of these individuals may not have survived had it not been for the first responders’ efforts to get them out of the vehicle.”
Hundreds of vehicles were left abandoned in the snow as the storm roared through Buffalo, according to New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven Greyley. He said authorities were going door-to-door and car-by-car to check people.
New York’s gov. Kathy Hochul stresses the importance of adhering to Western New York’s local and state driving bans. Buffalo, Lackawanna and Cheektowaga remain under driving bans at night.
“We had a lot of vehicles that were abandoned during the storm as people left,” Hochul said at a news conference Monday. “Being outside is still a dangerous situation,” she added.
Of the 27 deaths reported in Erie County, three were caused by EMS delays, while others involved people outside, in vehicles, without heat or in cardiac arrest — a death toll still expected to rise, officials said.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said law enforcement will prioritize welfare checks once the road is cleared.
“I have a bad feeling about it. I think the death toll is going to go up,” the sheriff said. “It’s heartbreaking when you have 420 EMS calls that go unanswered.”
Many also faced difficulties at home as the storm trapped people indoors. Substations were flooded and frozen with snow, and the storm caused severe power outages in the area, meaning residents were left without heat in their homes.
Getting the lights back on wasn’t easy, according to Hochul, because utility crews faced hazardous weather conditions that made access to substations difficult.
“Some people have been without power in their homes since Friday, and we know that,” the Buffalo mayor said, adding that his own home was also without power and the temperature inside dropped to 40 degrees, forcing his family to lie down. .
Fewer than 10,000 customers in Buffalo were without power as of Monday, Brown said.
The dangerous and protracted winter storm that has gripped the country for the past week has affected much of the United States as an arctic storm dropped temperatures to dangerous levels across much of the country.
Many towns are still covered in thick snow. In varying 24-hour spans, 42.8 inches of snow fell in Baraga, MI, and 40.8 inches fell in Port Henderson, NY.
The storm disrupted U.S. travel during the busy holiday weekend, canceling more than 5,000 flights on Friday, more than 3,400 on Saturday and more than 3,100 on Christmas Day.
About 3,800 flights in and out of U.S. airports had been canceled as of 7 p.m. ET Monday, according to tracking site FlightAware.i, including more than 2,500 canceled by Southwest Airlines, which canceled 70% of its flights. flight.
Buffalo Niagara International Airport was closed Friday due to “severe weather conditions,” with 43 inches of snow falling and is expected to remain closed until late Wednesday morning, Niagara Border Transit Agency said on twitter. Pittsburgh International Airport is currently sending snow removal equipment to Buffalo Airport to assist with the reopening of the airport, according to a news release issued Monday.
At least 49 deaths from the storm were reported in several states.
• New York: In addition to the 27 deaths in Erie County, one fatal carbon monoxide poisoning incident was reported in Niagara County.
ColoradoPolice in Colorado Springs report two cold-related deaths since Thursday, with a man found near an electrical transformer in a building he may have sought to heat and another In the alley camp.
• Kansas: Three people died in a weather-related crash, the Highway Patrol said Friday.
• Kentucky: Three people have died in the state, including one in a car crash in Montgomery County, officials said.
• Missouri: Kansas City police say one person died after a caravan slid off an icy road and into a frozen creek.
• OhioNine people died in weather-related crashes, including one Saturday morning on Interstate 75 when a tractor-trailer crossed the center line and collided with an SUV and a pickup, authorities said .
• Tennessee: The Department of Health confirmed one death related to the storm on Friday.
• the state of Wisconsin: On Thursday, the State Patrol reported a fatal car accident caused by winter weather.
• Vermont: A Castleton woman died after a tree fell on her home, according to the police chief.
Buffalo had its snowiest winter ever, with a measurable 92.7 inches from October through Christmas, according to the National Weather Service. The latest storm comes just a month after a historic snowstorm battered the region. The city is now near 100 inches after falling another 6.3 inches on Monday.
Buffalo remained under a winter weather warning through Tuesday afternoon and could see as much as 7 inches of snow. However, the temperature will be slightly higher than the previous few days, with a maximum of 30 degrees during the day and a minimum of 26 degrees at night.
Supermarkets in Western New York began reopening on Monday, with others expected to reopen on Tuesday.
The state has stockpiled ready-to-eat meals and “thousands” of meals are ready to be distributed to food banks, Hochul said Monday, but noted road conditions have paralyzed aid efforts.
“It’s our responsibility to have all of these resources at our fingertips. But it’s not safe when nature really closes in and creates a wall that you can’t see past, not just because of emergency vehicles, but the trucks that deliver groceries to stores.” , and the stores were closed anyway — that’s the paralysis we’re experiencing,” Hochul said.
The governor sent President Joe Biden a request to declare a federal emergency in Erie and Genesee counties, which “is critical to assisting our recovery from this historic storm,” she said.