As search-and-rescue teams continue in Buffalo, authorities expect the death toll to rise as a winter storm brings freezing temperatures and crippling snowfall to the US.
On Monday, the storm’s death toll reached 49, including 27 in Erie County, New York.
“Unfortunately, they are still finding bodies,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told.
He stated the recently deceased perished from exposure and natural causes.
“Stay home,” the commissioner said. Don’t leave.”
He said emergency personnel had taken individuals from unheated houses to warming shelters. He stated that too many people, including locals heading out to view the big snowfall, are driving and getting trapped, preventing recovery.
He told Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” that more bodies had been found and were being taken to the makeshift morgue.
“We’ve got so many corpses that different hospitals are packed, and we’re simply having to go through and identify whether the victims died from blizzard-related deaths.”
“It’s been a horrific, horrible situation,” he said.
Storm Follows Massive Blizzard
Snow continued Monday. Poloncarz said they predict 8–12 additional inches of snow between Monday morning and 1 p.m. Tuesday during a morning press conference.
“This isn’t helpful as we’re trying to recover and clear off roadways and go into places that still haven’t been ploughed,” he added.
Poloncarz called Buffalo “impassable in most parts” with abandoned automobiles, even though other municipalities had relaxed driving prohibitions.
Horrible for 24 Hours
As rescue workers and hundreds of snowplough drivers spread out on Christmas, emergency and recovery vehicles were trapped. Officials uncovered 11 abandoned ambulances Sunday.
Poloncarz told East County Gazette This Morning on Monday that it was the worst storm he could recall. “It was horrible for 24 hours.”
“We can manage snow,” he remarked. “But with the wind, the blinding views—complete whiteouts—and the severe cold, it was some of the worst circumstances that any of us had ever seen.”
Snowstorm of ’77
Buffalo’s 1977 snowstorm is often compared to the storm. Poloncarz stated the storm’s “ferocity… was greater than the snowstorm of ’77” in Monday’s press conference. That storm killed 23 individuals, 22 in Erie County.
In a Sunday press conference, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul termed this storm the “most destructive storm in Buffalo’s long storied history.”
She asked President Joe Biden to declare emergencies in Erie and Genesee counties on Monday.