DOn Tuesday, the National Weather Service was still unable to give the all-clear for the areas in the north-east of the United States that had been hit particularly hard by snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures. “Another day of heavy snowfall today,” wrote the Weather Service of the Buffalo area on Twitter. And even if the temperatures should then rise in the following days – the melting snow could lead to minor flooding. There had been more than a meter of snow over the weekend. The warning of extreme weather is still valid until this Wednesday.
The number of dead recovered after the severe onset of winter on the Christmas weekend is still increasing. American media are now reporting more than 50 deaths across the country, more than half of them in New York State. In Buffalo alone, the police speak of at least 27 dead. It is expected that the number will continue to rise. The current focus is on making roads passable again, restoring electricity to all households and locating people trapped in snow-covered cars. In upstate New York, hundreds of residents abandoned their cars in the snow chaos on the streets.
In some cities, residents have been in emergency shelters since Friday, and public life has been paralyzed in many places. The first supermarket chains in Buffalo are reopening, but there is still a driving ban, buses and trams are not operating, and the airport is closed until at least this Wednesday. Kathy Hochul, the governor of the state of New York, warned Monday evening against declaring the situation safe. “Anyone who says it’s over is way too soon,” Hochul said. Of driving through her hometown of Buffalo, she said it was like “driving into a war zone.” The snow is piled up meters high at the roadside, cars are parked everywhere, even snow plows and rescue vehicles are buried under the snow.
In a telephone conversation on the evening of Boxing Day, President Joe Biden pledged the government’s full support to the state of New York, which had been hit particularly hard in the face of the “historic winter storm”. He and his wife Jill also pray for those who have lost people. Authorities compare the situation in Erie County to a snowstorm in 1977 that killed 29 people and was considered one of the worst storms to date.
On Tuesday, too, after the cold spell, there were delays and many cancellations in air travel in large parts of the United States over the holidays. Much of the nearly 3,000 canceled flights were to be operated by low-cost airline Southwest Airlines, which warned Tuesday the weather-related outages could continue for a few more days. However, there were complaints about the airline’s crisis management. Travelers complained that the hotlines were overloaded and that nobody at the airport gave them any information. After the Christmas holidays, the next wave of travel for New Year’s Eve begins these days.
Many travelers had to spend the Christmas days at airports because there were hardly any opportunities to leave the area in the regions that were particularly hard hit. But it wasn’t all bad news. The emergency also brought many closer together. The media reported, for example, about a couple in Buffalo who took in nine tourists from South Korea who were stranded in a car on Christmas Eve. Rescuers in the state of New York also helped with a home birth via the emergency call line after a woman could not go to a hospital because of the weather conditions.