Death toll in US winter storm rises to 61

Good Samaritans help push a cart on South Park Avenue in Buffalo, New York.

The death toll from the severe winter storm that gripped much of the United States at Christmas rose to at least 61 on Thursday, officials said.

Erie County administrator Mark Poloncarz said two more deaths bearing the brunt of the historic storm have been reported in the western New York area, bringing the total to 39.

Erie County includes the snow-covered city of Buffalo, where most of the deaths occurred.

Of the 39 victims, 17 were found outside, 11 were in homes, four were in cars, four died while shoveling or blowing snow, and three were the result of emergency responders failing to reach them in time, Poloncarz said.

Nine deaths were reported in storm-related car crashes in the midwestern state of Ohio, and there were scattered deaths in at least half a dozen other states.

As temperatures rise and snow melts, officials in New York have expressed concerns about flooding, but the county administrator “doesn’t look like it’s going to be bad,” said the county administrator.

“Fortunately, flooding appears to be minimal,” Poloncarz said. said.

He said that the electricity was given back to all the residents of the district.

As Buffalo pulls itself out of a once-in-a-generation storm, there has been growing criticism of the authorities’ response, with Poloncarz calling the city’s administration “shameful”.

In Buffalo, for example, the travel ban was not enforced until 9:30 a.m. on Friday morning, when many were on their way to work.

The storm also brought cold out-of-season temperatures to states like Texas and Florida and caused chaos at airports with thousands of flights delayed or cancelled.

Southwest Airlines, which canceled more than 15,000 flights in eight days after it said there was a malfunction in its tariff systems, said on Friday it expects operations to gradually return to normal.

© 2022 AFP

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