ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As Buffalo continues to try and dig out of Christmas weekend’s deadly snowfall, New York Governor Kathy Hochul held an update regarding driving bans and efforts to help those in impacted areas of the storm.
Governor Hochul noted the work that many organizations are working to aid areas impacted by the storm — such as the New York State Department of Transportation working on snow removal on Rt. 33 and the National Guard aiding in search and rescue, traffic enforcement, medical transportation, and supplying residents with food and water.
Governor Hochul and state officials also reminded residents that there will still be driving bans in New York State as multiple routes will be closed to traffic. She also added, along with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, that the most important thing for everyone to do is to stay home and remain off the roads during the storm.
“Anyone who declares victory and says that it’s over, it is way too early to say,” Hochul said, adding, “The storm is coming back, we’re expecting another 6 to 12 inches.”
Mayor Brown says the main focus of the city’s efforts is on life safety — plowing and rescuing stranded motorists, helping emergency personnel respond to calls, and working with the National Grid to restore power to Buffalo. Mayor Brown added that under 10,000 are without power.
Mayor Brown added that police are currently investigating reports of looting in the City of Buffalo, with Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia confirming that arrests have been made and assisted at least one location in boarding up a store.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz confirmed that 25 deaths have occurred in Erie County as a result of the storm. Mayor Brown explained that some of these deaths were people out on the streets.
“It is painful to find members of your community that are deceased,” said Mayor Brown. “Those that are deceased are actually on streets in our community who were trying to walk out in storm conditions, got disoriented, and passed away out in the street.”
Mayor Brown also thanked New York officials — including Mayor Malik Evans, Senator Chuck Schumer, and Attorney General Letitia James — for offering support.
Forecasters said a bomb cyclone — when atmospheric pressure drops very quickly in a strong storm — had developed near the Great Lakes, stirring up blizzard conditions, including heavy winds and snow. The storm unleashed its full fury on Buffalo, with hurricane-force winds and snow causing whiteout conditions, paralyzing emergency response efforts, and shutting down the airport through Monday, according to officials.
The National Weather Service said the snow total at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport stood at 43 inches (109 centimeters) at 7 a.m. Sunday.