A few days after the catastrophic winter storm that plagued most of the country, people and officials in Buffalo, New York still face significant obstacles.
The storm’s death toll rises as authorities search abandoned homes and vehicles for survivors. The blizzard dumped as much as 50. 3 inches of snow on Buffalo, New York, killing at least 31 people there. Throughout 11 US states, at least 25 additional fatalities have been attributed to the storm.
“We’re, tragically, finding people on the roadway and in snow banks,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday night.
According to tweets from Poloncarz and National Grid US, more than 7,000 utility workers were toiling around the clock to restore power in the area, despite having to work around fallen trees and power lines.
Local health officials were scrambling to meet medical needs, such as getting patients to their dialysis appointments, which had been postponed or canceled due to the storm. To put it bluntly, dialysis isn’t something you can choose to do if you need it. The health service in Erie County warned that “it has to be done routinely – several times a week or that individual dies.”
Meanwhile, by Tuesday afternoon, at least eight persons had been arrested concerning storm-related business break-ins in Buffalo.
As a result of the intense blizzard conditions that made for blinding drives over the Christmas weekend, hundreds of automobiles were left abandoned in the snow around Buffalo, hampering the efforts of firefighters and other emergency vehicles working in the area.
Poloncarz stated during a press conference that despite efforts over two days to clear at least one lane on every street for emergency personnel, a driving prohibition remained in effect in Buffalo.
Roads are closed or impassable in several areas. Poloncarz added, “People are attempting to drive on those roads or try to enter those neighborhoods, and they can’t.”
Please, he pleaded. Please, stay at home, I ask you. It’s an emergency, dial 911.
Driving Ban In Effect; Flood Mitigation
New York’s second-most populous city, Buffalo, could receive up to another half an inch of snow on Tuesday night, with temperatures ranging from a high of 30 during the day to a low of 27 during the evening.
Officials are concerned that the projected temperature rises for the remainder of the week could lead to flooding. The National Weather Service has stated that “snow melting alone rarely produces flooding,” hence there is little cause for concern over potential flooding. Light rain is predicted for the area. However, the meteorological service has stated that “it should take roughly an inch of rain from this system before flooding becomes a worry.”
The head of Erie County’s Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Services assured the public that efforts were being made to mitigate the threat of flooding.
The city’s commissioner, Daniel Neaverth, explained that as the weather warms, “we want to make sure that we are cleared from curb to curb and as many areas as possible so that when it melts it can run off and it can find its right drainage.”
The following are some additional recuperation processes:
On Monday, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in New York, allowing federal funds to be used for disaster relief in Erie and Genesee counties.
Poloncarz reported that one hundred military police from the New York National Guard would be deployed to Erie County and other state police from across the state. To cover for the New York police who were sent to Buffalo, he suggested that the New Jersey state police would step in.
Even though snow removal equipment was brought in from Pittsburgh to help reopen Buffalo Niagara International Airport, the airport is still anticipated to be closed until late Wednesday morning, according to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. After road conditions halted efforts to transfer stockpiled ready-to-eat meals to food banks, officials said more supermarkets in western New York were anticipated to reopen.
The Rochester branch of the New York State Department of Transportation has announced the reopening of major roadways, including the New York State Thruway, Interstates 20 and 990, and Routes 400 and 219.
Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York said it was a sign “that we are finally turning the curve on this once-in-a-generation storm” in a tweet.
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‘Gut-wrenching’ effort to check on residents plods on
It has been determined that the storm in Buffalo was more severe than the snowstorm of 1977, which claimed 23 individuals’ lives. Poloncarz had already stated that the weekend’s weather was “absolutely terrible.” And for an entire day, it was dreadful.
As CNN meteorologist Tom Sater put it, “That just doesn’t happen,” blizzard conditions persisted for 37.5 hours. There were occasions when rescue and emergency trucks couldn’t move because of the snow. As Buffalo’s Deputy Mayor Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney put it on Tuesday’s “CNN This Morning,” “We had rescuers rescuing the rescuers,” but the situation is now under control.
New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven Nigrelli stated that hundreds of automobiles had been left in the snow in Buffalo and that authorities were searching each house and vehicle individually.
A delay in emergency medical services was blamed for at least one death in Erie County. The other recorded deaths involved people outside in vehicles who lacked heat access or experienced cardiac arrest. Authorities have stated that they anticipate the death toll to grow. Sheriff John Garcia of Erie County, New York, said on Monday that welfare checks would be a top priority once the roads were cleared.
My gut tells me that’s not a good idea. I anticipate a rise in fatalities. The sheriff claimed his team was making plans to assist in transporting “people to doctors, nurses, hospitals, and… dialysis” after learning that 420 EMS calls had gone unanswered. Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown tweeted Tuesday night that “just under 2,000” people were still without electricity across the city and that crews were still working to restore power to everyone.
Utility personnel has faced perilous weather conditions in their efforts to restore power, Hochul said.
Storm kills almost 50 people across the U.S.
As of today, at least 56 people have been confirmed dead in numerous states due to the storm:
- There have been 32 confirmed deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning in Erie County, New York, and one additional fatality from carbon monoxide poisoning in Niagara County.
- One man was discovered near the electrical transformer of a building in Colorado Springs on Thursday, possibly seeking warmth, and another was discovered in an alleyway camp, both dead from the cold.
- The Kansas Highway Patrol reported three deaths due to weather-related car accidents on Friday.
- Officials in Kentucky have confirmed the deaths of three persons, one of whom was killed in a car crash in Montgomery County.
- Police in Kansas City, Missouri, reported one fatality after a van skidded off the road and into a frozen creek.
- Lt. James Kneeland, a New Hampshire Fish and Game Department spokesman, reported that a hiker’s body was discovered in Franconia on Christmas morning.
- There have been nine fatalities in weather-related car accidents in Ohio, four of them in a disaster on Saturday morning on Interstate 75 that involved a tractor-trailer that jumped the median and collided with an SUV and a truck.
- According to the coroner’s office, two men, including a 91-year-old who ventured outside on Christmas Day to repair a broken water pipe, lost their lives due to the storm in Anderson County, South Carolina. A power outage on Christmas Eve proved fatal for the other victim.
- On Friday, the Department of Health in the state of Tennessee reported that one person had died due to the storm.
- According to the Castleton police chief, a woman was killed when a tree collapsed on her house
- According to the State Patrol, one deadly crash was attributed to the icy roads in Wisconsin on Thursday.
Records in Buffalo have been broken by 100 inches of snow.
Cities and towns all around the United States are still buried under several feet of snow. Some locations, like Baraga, Michigan, received as much as 42.8 inches of snow, while others, like Henderson Harbor, New York, received only 40.8 inches. Listed below are localities that saw very heavy snowfall during the recent storm.
From October through Christmas Day, the National Weather Service recorded 92.7 inches of snowfall in Buffalo, making this the snowiest beginning to a winter season in the city’s history. The latest storm hit a month after a massive winter hit the area.
The city has received 100 inches of snow this season, partly due to another 7.3 inches that fell on Monday. This is the earliest start to 100 inches of snowfall since records began being kept in the 1880s. Since last Friday, we’ve received half of the season’s snowfall total.
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Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.