At Least Two Dead in New York Amid Devastating Snowstorm

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: John Normile / Stringer

Two people have died in New York as a massive winter snowstorm battered parts of the state with snowfall. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said both deaths were “cardiac events related to exertion during shoveling/snow blowing.”

According to meteorologists, the snow was falling extremely fast, with rates of one to three inches an hour. “The reports we just had is, it’s some of the worst conditions that our public works department and sheriff’s deputies have ever faced in a storm,” Poloncarz said.

Despite the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, state officials put in place travel bans, including in south Buffalo, which Mayor Byron Brown said was “incredibly hard hit.”

In East Aurora, officials saw a massive 43 inches of snowfall. Over in Hamburg, someone’s roof of their house collapsed due to the weight of the heavy, wet snow, according to Poloncarz said. In addition, emergency officials rescued one person.

The winter storm also brought lake-effect snow, which is when arctic air shoots across the waters of the Great Lakes. The weather event even created a “snownado” off Lake Erie. Christine Scheck, a resident from Buffalo, said the snow was up to her hips and higher in some places.

“It’s terrible out here. There are cars stuck everywhere,” she admitted. “And no one can get anywhere. They’re just getting stuck.”

New York officials perform dozens of rescues as drivers get stuck in snowstorm

She continued: “There’s an ambulance stuck in the middle of the intersection. And there was a tow truck trying to get them out there, tying ropes underneath it, pulling them and they can’t get it out because it’s still stuck in the middle of the intersection with the snow.”

The city of Buffalo has now declared a state of emergency. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also did the same for 11 counties near Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in the western and northwestern parts of the state.

In addition, Sheriff John Garcia said the police department in the Lake Erie area had been “absolutely inundated” with distressed calls about stranded drivers or abandoned vehicles.

Garcia said fire officials rescued 12 motorists from their vehicles. In the Hamburg area, a lost driver is now recuperating in a hospital after they got stuck while driving. One driver was even struck by a slow-moving train after getting stuck in the snow. Thankfully, they didn’t suffer any injuries.

Brown also urged residents to stay off the streets in the southern part of the city.

“We want no driving whatsoever in that area of the city so the plows can do their work,” he said. “We have now upwards of 55 plows in south Buffalo that are working to clear residential streets.”