Exhausted road crews and residents are still digging as flood warnings are issued in the United States following a deadly snowstorm.
The country has been struggling with a huge bomb whirlwind — the deadliest U.S. storm in at least two generations since last week.
Extreme weather has killed at least 65 people, and the region in and around Buffalo, New York, is becoming ground zero for the Arctic deep freeze.
The number of confirmed storm-related deaths rose to 32 in Erie and Niagara counties on Tuesday, officials said.
While snowfall was starting to decrease, emergency services continued to locate and remove vehicles left under snow and snowdrifts several feet high.
some of the dead were found frozen in caror die from medical emergencies such as cardiac arrest while shoveling snow, Erie County Executive Mark Polocarz said.
“Please, please don’t drive in Buffalo unless you’re an emergency responder,” he said, explaining that “too many people” are ignoring the driving ban currently in place.
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“We’re recovering from the worst storm I’ve ever seen, certainly dying at the wrath of nature,” he added.
The military police were called to help
In and around Buffalo, up to 52 inches (1.32 meters) of snow fell over four days, with more expected through Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
The county has called in 100 military police officers from the state National Guard, as well as officials from New York City to help
Manage traffic and enforce road restrictions.
But conditions are not expected to improve anytime soon, with the NWS now predicting a rapid thaw later in the week, along with rain that could lead to flooding and harsh conditions.
“It’s going to get warmer very quickly. By Thursday, it’s going to be 8C highs. By Saturday, it’s going to be 12C,” meteorologist Bob Oravec said.
Roads are being cleared so that the melted snow can drain properly, front-loading tractors shovel it into dump trucks, and dump it elsewhere.
Mr Poloncarz said it would take two days to open a lane on every city street.
Thousands still without power
Not only were roads affected, but about 4,500 customers were still without power due to the storm on Tuesday, according to Mr Polocarz.
President Joe Biden has authorized federal support to help those who have lost power.
Flights have also been affected, with Dallas, Texas-based Southwest Airlines forced to cancel more than 12,000 flights since Friday due to adverse conditions.
On Tuesday, it canceled more than two-thirds of its 4,000 scheduled flights, accounting for more than 90% of all U.S. airline cancellations, tracking site FlightAware showed.