Blizzard Leaves Over 50 Dead, Families Trapped By Chest-Deep Snow In US

Blizzard Leaves Over 50 Dead, Families Trapped By Chest-Deep Snow In US

Blizzard Leaves Over 50 Dead, Families Trapped By Chest-Deep Snow In US.

Blizzard Leaves Over 50 Dead, Families Trapped By Chest-Deep Snow In US

The deadly winter storm that struck the United States over the Christmas holiday weekend has continued to cause havoc in New York state and disrupt air travel nationwide.

Multiple fatalities have been reported, with the number rising to over 50 after officials confirmed three more deaths in Erie County, the epicenter of the crisis.

The police department has indicated that the number of deaths is likely to continue increasing.

Buffalo, the largest city in the county, has been paralyzed by the storm for five days, with residents facing power outages and chest-deep snow banks, and more snowfall is expected on Tuesday.

Governor Kathy Hochul, a native of Buffalo, described the storm aftermath as resembling “a war zone.” As temperatures dropped, commuters and some residents attempting to flee their freezing homes became trapped on highways, and rescue efforts were hampered by the ferocity of the storm and the inability of ambulances and snowplows to reach affected areas.

The family of one 22-year-old Buffalo resident, Anndel Taylor, reported that she died in her car after getting stuck on her way home from work.

A video sent by Taylor and posted by her sister shows her vehicle covered up to its windows in snow.

Emergency responders, who themselves became stuck attempting to rescue her, found her dead 18 hours later, possibly due to carbon monoxide poisoning, her family in North Carolina told local TV station WSOC-TV.

One father described being trapped in his vehicle on the streets of Buffalo with his four young children for 11 hours before being rescued, according to The New York Times.

Zila Santiago, 30, said he kept his engine running to provide some warmth and fed his children some juice found in his trunk. They were finally rescued at dawn by a passing snowplow.

In a city well-accustomed to snowstorms, some residents were blaming a travel ban they said was enacted too late on Friday morning as contributing to the extent of the disaster.

– ‘Worst Christmas’ –

The perfect storm of fierce snow squalls, howling wind and sub-zero temperatures forced the cancellation of almost 20,000 US flights in recent days, including more than 3,000 on Tuesday, according to tracking site

Most of the cancellations on Tuesday were at Southwest Airlines, which pulled over 60 percent of its flights due to cascading logistics issues, earning it a rebuke from the US government.

Also Read: Winter Storm Disrupts Holiday Plans and Causes Power Outages For 1.5Million In The US

The Department of Transportation tweeted that it was “concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations” and would examine if the company is “complying with its customer service plan,” while the US Senate committee overseeing aviation said it would look into causes which “go beyond weather.”

US President Joe Biden on Monday approved an emergency declaration for New York state, freeing up funds to help it recover from the disaster.

Buffalo’s international airport remains closed until Wednesday morning and a driving ban remained in effect for the city, where thousands were still without power.

“You can absolutely go out and walk to check on neighbors, go to open stores, etc. But do not drive,” warned the county executive, Mark Poloncarz, in a tweet.

Longtime Buffalo resident Bill Sherlock told AFP that his home had received about four feet of snow, but that he was lucky to have had running electricity and food.

Those less fortunate “probably had the worst Christmas of their lives,” said the 38-year-old attorney — mindful that some homes in his neighborhood have had no power since Friday.

Sherlock said he may wait another day before leaving home for the first time in nearly a week: “We’re not going anywhere unless we have to.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told CNN that multiple incidents of looting were reported in the city over Christmas weekend and eight arrests have been made.

The National Weather Service forecast isolated areas of snow in western New York on Tuesday, but a thaw was in sight.

A respite of warmer temperatures around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) was forecast by the weekend, although officials warned that melting snow could result in minor flooding.

The extreme weather over the weekend sent temperatures below freezing in all mainland US states, including in Texas communities along the Mexico border where some arriving migrants have struggled to find shelter.

At one point on Saturday, nearly 1.7 million customers were without electricity in the biting cold, according to tracker

Road ice and whiteout conditions also led to the temporary closure of some of the nation’s busiest transport routes, including part of the cross-country Interstate 70 highway.

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