Roads in the city of Buffalo reopened to motorists Thursday as snow removal and the search for victims continued, authorities reported 39 confirmed dead in the aftermath of the Christmas blizzard.
On December 23, an extremely cold storm zone affecting the entire United States reached the western part of New York state, bringing more than a meter of snow to the Buffalo area on the shores of Lake Erie. The traffic ban was lifted in the second most populous city of the state of New York on Thursday, but the mayor asked the locals not to get in their cars in order to allow the emergency units to move freely.
In the residential areas of the city, hundreds of high-performance machines are working to remove snow obstacles raised by the wind.
In Erie County, which includes Buffalo, 39 deaths have been reported so far. There was a 63-year-old chronic patient whose ventilator stopped due to a power outage and thus did not receive the necessary oxygen. A 27-year-old man died of carbon monoxide poisoning after snow blocked a vent in his home. A 22-year-old victim was found in his car a few minutes from his home, he was on his way home from work, but got stuck on the road due to the snowstorm, and there was a victim who wanted to leave his apartment for a short time, but did not get back there.
Another 25 people died in the extreme cold in other parts of the United States, most of them in traffic accidents on slippery roads.
The weather service has issued a flood warning for the city of Buffalo after temperatures soared well above freezing, with rain forecast for Saturday. New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced that 800,000 sandbags had been prepared and 300 pumps were on standby to remove water collecting in basements.
The situation in US aviation may return to normal by Friday, about 2,500 more flights were canceled on Thursday, almost entirely operated by Southwest Airlines. The company announced that it will be able to maintain scheduled traffic from Friday. Southwest is facing a government investigation after it virtually collapsed following storms that began on Dec. 22, canceling more than 13,000 flights, and affecting about 1 million passengers. A total of 58 percent of the company’s flights were unable to operate during this period, while the other airlines have been able to fulfill their schedule for days.
Insurers have begun to tally the damage caused by the winter storm, according to which, in 42 states of the United States, about 5.4 billion dollars was lost to insured property. The most damage is expected in New York, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, after the cold caused mostly infrastructure damage, mostly in the form of frozen and cracked water lines.