At least 17 victims of the storm in northern New York

The arctic cold snap that gripped the United States over the Christmas holiday weekend killed 17 people in upstate New York, the hardest-hit area. Buffalo and surrounding areas have suffered the worst: a combination of freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall and flooding in Erie, one of the Great Lakes, inundating this area.

The storm left thousands of people trapped for days, in their cars or in their homes, often without power. Mike D.George, a spokesman for the city of Buffalo, acknowledged that the death toll was “expected to be much higher.”


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The snow was heavy and accumulated in some areas about a meter in three days. Although this is an area with harsh winters, accustomed to snowfall and extreme temperatures, authorities have banned the circulation of cars since Friday, when the storm arrived.

Some ignore it. Others were trapped in their homes without power, a situation that affected 1.5 million people across the United States last Friday. As of Sunday night, there were still about 15,000 customers without power in the Buffalo area and people still stuck in their cars since Friday.

“It was an epic storm, one of those once-in-a-lifetime events,” Gov. Cathy Hochul lamented. The authorities carried out 500 rescue operations, but it was not enough to prevent deaths. Many of them died trapped in their cars. One was found dead in the street. Three of them had cardiac arrest while trying to remove snow from their homes. And three more, because the medical services could not respond to emergencies in a timely manner, given the situation on the streets.

The situation was so complicated that rescuers had to be rescued. “We had to rescue firefighters, police officers, and emergency personnel,” said Mark Poloncars, a member of the Erie County Council, where Buffalo is located.

The Biden administration is expected to sign a disaster declaration for the region, one that will need the most help in the country after a Christmas weekend derailed by an explosive trigger that devastated the country with temperature extremes. And after the heavy cancellation of flights since Friday, 3,500 flights on Sunday are still suspended, in a full return for Americans after celebrating the holidays.

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