Despite the forecasts that temperatures in the United States will begin to rise from this Tuesday, the New York authorities maintain a state of emergency after Elliot’s fierce passage. In Buffalo, the second largest city in the state, authorities continue to search and rescue those affected.
This Tuesday temperatures began to moderate in the eastern and midwestern United States, days after storm Elliot hit the country and caused the death of around 50 people.
Despite the forecast, the blizzard persists in some places. In New York state, US President Joe Biden issued a federal emergency declaration Monday night, authorizing US government assistance to bolster state and local recovery efforts.
Through his Twitter account he said: “I spoke with Governor Kathy Hochul to get an update on the extreme winter weather plaguing New York. We stand ready to make sure they have the resources they need to get through this. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones this holiday weekend. You are in my prayers and Jill’s.”
I spoke with @GovKathyHochul to get an update on the extreme winter weather hitting New York. We stand ready to make sure they have the resources they need to get through this.
My heart is with those who lost loved ones this holiday weekend. You are in my and Jill’s prayers. pic.twitter.com/Lt6eZ1YJR5
—President Biden (@POTUS) December 26, 2022
In this state, authorities described devastating conditions, particularly in Buffalo, with power outages lasting multiple hours, bodies trapped in vehicles and under snowbanks. Emergency personnel are still trawling bodies “car to car” looking for survivors.
National Guard members and other teams have rescued hundreds of people, but authorities have said many more remain trapped.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia called the storm “the worst” it has experienced, with periods of zero visibility and authorities unable to respond to emergency calls. “It was heartbreaking to receive calls from families with their children saying they were freezing,” Garcia said.
Hundreds of power company employees try to restore power. Erie County Chief Executive Mark Poloncarz said on Twitter that about 4,500 customers remained without power.
In a statement to the media, Poloncarz said, “We are recovering from the worst storm I’ve ever seen, certainly in terms of deaths from the wrath of Mother Nature,” saying the death toll in Erie would likely exceed that of the 1977 Buffalo blizzard that killed nearly 30 people.
About 122,000 homes across the country were still without power, down from the peak of 1.8 million recorded Saturday, according to PowerOutage.us. About 72% of those still without power were in Oregon and California. The California-Oregon border area has experienced high winds and heavy rain this week.
Road crews removed downed trees with chainsaws and cleared snow from at least one lane so emergency crews could get through on major roads.
One of those affected, Jim Nowak, stated that during the worst moments of the storm they looked “out the window and it blew so much” that they could not “tell if the snow was accumulating.”
Icing roads and storm conditions have also temporarily closed some of the nation’s busiest transportation routes, including part of Interstate 70, which runs across the United States.
A warning was issued to drivers not to hit the roads, even as the country reached the end of the year festivities, when there is usually more commuting.
US National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Oravec noted that two more inches of snow would fall in western New York on Tuesday, but that it would “probably be the last,” adding: “It will be hot soon. Thursday the maximum will be 8 degrees Celsius and on Saturday it will be 12 degrees.”
Flight cancellation continues
The Southwest airline again led the cancellations of flights by US airlines on Tuesday with 2,589 and were 30 times higher than those of Spirit Airlines, the second company with the most canceled flights.
It also canceled 2,500 flights scheduled for Wednesday and more than 1,000 flights on Thursday. Southwest shares fell 6.3% to a two-month low of $33.81.
The company has a much tighter schedule than most US airlines and more challenging response times to accommodate its network that connects vast swaths of the country.
Illinois State Attorney General Kwame Raoul has called on the US Department of Transportation to adopt rules ensuring airlines provide relief to those who experience cancellations and long delays not related to inclement weather.
With AFP, Reuters and AP