Winter Storm Kills 27 in Buffalo, New York, Authorities Worry It Could Grow

Officials in the Buffalo region anticipate that the astounding toll will continue to rise there as search-and-rescue teams push on with their efforts. Dozens of Americans have perished as a result of the winter storm, which delivered cold temperatures and crippling snowfall totals throughout the US.

On Monday, the death toll from the storm, which dumped as much as 40 inches of snow in some locations, reached 49, with 27 of those fatalities occurring in Erie County, New York. Unfortunately, they are still recovering corpses, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told CNN‘s, Wolf Blitzer.

Some of the recent fatalities were from exposure, he claimed, while others were the result of natural causes. Stay indoors, the commissioner pleaded with locals. Stay indoors. Those without heat will be visited by first responders, who will then transport the residents to temporary warming centers, he added. He added that too many people were venturing out in their cars to see the heavy snowfall and that their presence was hindering recovery operations.

According to a tweet by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, 14 people in the county had died from exposure; three were discovered dead in their vehicles, four did not have heat, three had suffered “shoveling/(snow) blowing cardiac events,” and three had passed away because of a lack of timely EMS response.

He shared with CNN that it seems certain that the figures would rise. “I am aware of additional bodies that have been recovered and are being brought to our temporary morgue,”  he said on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. According to one official, “We’ve had so many bodies that various hospitals are full and we’re just having to go through and determine if the individuals have died from a blizzard-related death.”

Winter Storm Kills 27 in Buffalo
Winter Storm Kills 27 in Buffalo

“It’s just been a horrible, horrible situation,” he added. The fatal storm hits a month after a record-breaking blizzard hit the area. In addition, snowfall persisted throughout Monday. Poloncarz, speaking at a morning press conference, said that between 8 and 12 inches of snow are expected to fall between Monday morning and Tuesday at 1 p.m. “This is not helpful as we’re trying to recover and clear off streets and get into areas that still have not” been plowed, he said.

Poloncarz added that although driving prohibitions have been removed in certain regions, one such order still stands in Buffalo and that the city is “impassable in most areas,” due to the widespread presence of abandoned automobiles. While hundreds of snowplow drivers and rescue teams dispersed on Christmas to try to clear the roads, even emergency and recovery vehicles sent out to aid have been stranded in the snow. According to reports, eleven abandoned ambulances were retrieved on Sunday.

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Poloncarz said Monday on “CNN This Morning” that it was the worst storm he could recall, and that “we had to send specialized rescue crews to go get the rescuers.”  “It was just horrendous, and it was horrendous for 24 hours in a row.” He confidently said, “We’re used to snow here, we can handle snow.” But it was some of the worst circumstances that any of us had ever experienced, with the wind, the blinding vistas (there were total whiteouts), and the severe cold.

Many people are comparing this storm to the one that hit Buffalo in 1977. At a press conference on Monday, Poloncarz said that this storm was “worse than the snowstorm of ’77.” Twenty-two persons in Erie County alone lost their lives in the disaster. New York Governor Kathy Hochul dubbed this storm the “most disastrous storm in Buffalo’s long storied history” during a press conference on Sunday. She asked Vice President Joe Biden to declare federal emergencies in Erie and Genesee counties on Monday.

“I spoke with @GovKathyHochul to get an update on the extreme winter weather hitting New York,” Biden tweeted. “We stand ready to make sure they have the resources they need to get through this. My heart is with those who lost loved ones this holiday weekend. You are in my and Jill’s prayers.”

Hundreds of National Guard soldiers have been sent to New York to aid in the relief operations. Hochul said that by Sunday, the state police had assisted in more than 500 rescues, including the delivery of a baby.

Last Lines

The shocking death toll is expected to grow in the Buffalo area as search and rescue crews continue their work. The winter storm, which brought freezing temperatures and massive amounts of snow to the United States, has claimed the lives of dozens of people.

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