Buffalo winter storm leads to driving ban
State and military police were dispatched Tuesday to steer people away from the snow-covered roads of Buffalo, and officials continued to count the dead three days after Western New York’s deadliest storm in at least two generations .
Even as suburban roads and most major highways in the area reopened, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz warned that police would be stationed at Buffalo entrances and major intersections as some drivers flouted the driving ban in New York’s second most populous city.
More than 30 people are believed to have died in the area, officials said, including seven storm-related deaths announced Tuesday by the office of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. The toll exceeds that of the historic 1977 Blizzard, which was accused of killing up to 29 people in an area known for its harsh winters.
Greg Monett took to social media to ask for help shoveling a six-foot (1.8-meter) pile of snow at the end of his Buffalo driveway so he can get dialysis treatment on Tuesday.
« It’s been a nightmare, » he said in an interview on Monday. Electricity had been out for some time at his family’s home, he said, so relatives ran a gas stove for warmth, a practice he acknowledged was dangerous.
“We had to do what we had to do,” Monett, 43, said. « We would have frozen to death here. »
He eventually reached dialysis after climbing through the snow and asking neighbors to dig up his buried vehicle, his sister Maria Monett said.
The National Weather Service predicted that up to two inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) of additional snow could fall Tuesday in Erie County, which includes Buffalo and its 275,000 residents. County Emergency Services Commissioner Dan Neaverth Jr. said officials were also somewhat concerned about the potential for flooding later in the week when the weather is expected to warm up and start melting snow. .
The rest of the United States was also reeling from the ferocious winter storm, with at least two dozen additional deaths reported in other parts of the country and power outages in communities from Maine to Washington state.
On the Rosebud Sioux Tribe reservation in South Dakota, plans were underway to use snowmobiles on Tuesday to reach residents after food boxes were delivered by helicopter and trucks over the weekend, the city said. tribe.
In Buffalo, the dead were found in cars, homes and snowbanks. Some died while shoveling snow, others when emergency teams were unable to respond to medical crises in time. Poloncarz, a Democrat, called the blizzard « probably the worst storm of our lifetimes, » even for an area known for heavy snowfall. More bodies are expected to be found as the snow clears or melts.
The winter blast trapped some people in cars for days, shuttered the city’s airport and left some residents shivering without warmth. More than 4,000 homes and businesses were still without power late Tuesday morning.
US President Joe Biden offered federal aid to New York on Monday, allowing for reimbursement of some storm relief efforts. Governor Kathy Hochul visited the aftermath in Buffalo, her hometown, and called the blizzard « one for the ages. » Almost all of the city’s fire trucks were grounded on Saturday, she said.
Hochul, a Democrat, noted that the storm came just over a month after the area was inundated by another historic snowfall. Between the two storms, snowfall totals are not far from the 95.4 inches (242 centimeters) the region normally sees in an entire winter season.
The National Weather Service said the snow total at Buffalo Niagara International Airport stood at 49.2 inches (1.25 meters) as of 10 a.m. Monday. Officials said the airport would be closed until Wednesday morning.
About 3,000 domestic and international flights in the United States were canceled around 2 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, according to tracking site FlightAware.
The US Department of Transportation said it would review Southwest Airlines flight cancellations that left travelers stranded at airports across the country amid the winter storm. Many airlines were forced to cancel flights, but Southwest was by far the leader.
Peltz reported from New York. Associated Press reporters Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Missouri, and Julie Walker in New York contributed.