The death toll from the weekend blizzard in upstate New York rose to at least 27 on Monday, with authorities warning the death toll would likely rise.
The monster storm battered counties such as Erie, which includes the city of Buffalo, and Niagara in the western region of the state, leaving residents Monday struggling with nearly 4 feet of snow, roads impassable for plows and thousands of homes without electricity.
Meanwhile, forecasters warned that the monumental storm could bring up to an additional foot of snowfall to the region on Monday.
“This will go down in history as the most devastating storm” in Buffalo, Governor Kathy Hochul said Sunday.
A travel ban is in place in the city, with roads so icy and buried in snow that it has been nearly impossible for snow plows to clear them.
Snowdrifts up to 8 feet on the roads were too thick and difficult to clear with conventional snow removal equipment, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told reporters.
The city’s airport will be closed until at least Tuesday.
The storm marked the first time the Buffalo Fire Department was unable to respond to calls for help, officials said. Instead, National Guardsmen were called in. By Sunday, the storm had subsided enough for rescuers to get out and assess the damage.
“I can’t overstate how dangerous the conditions are still,” Hochul said Sunday, urging people to stay off the roads.
At least 27 people have died as a result of the storm, with Buffalo police spokesman Michael DeGeorge saying Monday morning that the death toll in the city alone now stands at 20, Buffalo reported. News.
Some of the storm’s victims “were found in cars, and some were found on the streets in snow banks,” Poloncarz said Sunday.
Officials say the total number of deaths could continue to rise.
“We think based on the reports we are getting from the field, we are going to get a number – hopefully not a significant number – but a number of additional confirmed deaths in the next six hours from bodies that have been found but not found. yet been transported to hospitals for identification and confirmation of death,” Poloncarz said Sunday.
About 15,000 homes were left without power Sunday night, and many won’t have lights and heating back on until Tuesday, Poloncarz said.
Hochul said she has spoken with White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and the federal government stands ready to provide the funding and assistance the state needs to recover financially from the storm.