Eight Dead as Snow Blankets Western New York

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It has been a deadly week in western New York. Eight deaths are blamed on the storm dubbed “˜Winter Storm Knife,’ and the lake effect snow is expected to batter western New York through Thursday.

Local and state leaders continue to ask residents to stay inside and stay off roads. Thursday, Deputy County Executive Richard Tobe said they are making tremendous progress clearing some major roads, and new cars entering the roadways will set them back and put residents in danger. Tobe asked, “Wait for the storm to pass, and pass it will.”

Governor Cuomo addressed the media Thursday, and said the region is a “much better position” than it was Wednesday. However, he said there are “more chapters in this story before it’s done.”

Cuomo traveled Wednesday to Buffalo to survey the damage caused by the storm which to date has killed eight people. He stayed overnight and continued touring the area on Thursday.

Leaders reiterated Thursday they wanted drivers off the roadways in South Buffalo and the southtowns.

“We are not opening any roads because we still have phase two on the way,” Cuomo said Thursday. “Let’s go through the next snowfall, let’s get that cleared.”

When we say stay home, really stay home,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “Going out on the roads is dangerous and unnecessary.”

Cuomo issued that warning to those considering venturing out. He said the decision to leave could be deadly.

Another person was announced dead as result of the serious lake effect storm. Deputy County Executive Richard Tobe said someone went into cardiac arrest Wednesday afternoon, while trying to move a snow blower. The seventh death was reported Wednesday. Officials say he was an elderly man who wasn’t able to get transferred to a facility which could assist him. He died at an urgent care center. Three of the seven people who died in the storm died of cardiac issues from shoveling. A 46-year-old in Alden was found buried under snow. His car reportedly slid into a ditch and was buried 12-15 feet under. Another man died after he was pinned to his car while attempting to push it out of the snow in Cheektowaga.

Deputy Erie County Executive said over three or four days, nearly a year’s worth of snow will have bombarded parts of the state.

That is expected to stress the budgets of many highway departments across Western New York, but Governor Cuomo said federal aid can’t be counted on just yet. FEMA only awards aid in “extreme” cases, Cuomo said, but he noted he would push for assistance once damage can be assessed.

One issue plaguing crews which are struggling to clear roadways like the Thruway are abandoned cars and cars which continue to become stuck in snow.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown warned against leaving home to travel. He said getting stuck is a reality in areas affected by the storm.

Mayor Brown closed City Hall Thursday, while continuing the limited state of emergency and driving ban for all points south of Clinton Street.

First responders are taking extraordinary steps to get people out of their homes. In Hamburg, firefighters carried a man down a snow-clogged street on a stretcher.

If in distress, people are encouraged to call 911. For those in Erie County, Erie County Emergency Dispatch’s numbers are 898-3696 or 681-7111. County Executive Mark Poloncarz said all calls will be heard, and people who are snowed in through an emergency will be reached by snowmobile.

For those stuck in homes and on roadways, there are options which officials are stressing people take in the event of emergency.

The Red Cross opened various storm shelters, which will remain open until further notice. The Red Cross said over 200 people spent the night between their shelters and encouraged people in need to seek a shelter near them.

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