At least 55 people have been killed by icy conditions, historically low temperatures and heavy snow resulting from Winter Storm Elliot as Americans continue to seek refuge and resources. The raging blizzard, which affected many states across the northern United States, gained significant strength as it moved across the Great Lakes and struck New York in the Buffalo area.
More than 25 were killed in Buffalo and rescuers in the region continue to brave the elements as more fatalities are uncovered. “It’s absolutely devastating to see this many deaths,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said at a press conference on Monday. “We have the worst storm, probably in our lifetime, and maybe in the history of the city.”
Adding to the concern was Buffalo Mayor Bryon W. Brown who said “I am sad to announce that our City has lost at least 20 members of our community due to the winter storm. Everyone please continue to be safe.” in a Tweet Monday afternoon.
Erie County and surrounding communities have reported 49.2 inches of snowfall, as businesses, roads and airports remain closed during the busy travel of the holiday season. More than 12,000 flights have been canceled and package delivery services experienced major setbacks. UPS and FedEx both issued warnings ahead of the storm’s path to brace those celebrating the holidays for delays.
An estimated 200 million Americans were also advised by federal and local officials to prepare for the worst as Winter Storm Elliot churned up in the early stages of its development. Advisories included warnings to prepare for power outages, and these warnings were not unnecessary, as roughly 200,000 people woke up on Christmas morning without power in their home. Local leaders are taking action to ensure that power and electricity is restored to those affected by the storm.
Though the storm’s path has moved out of most areas, danger from the devastation is still present. Many roads across the country are covered in ice, resulting in poor conditions for those attempting to travel during the busy holiday season. Officials continue to advise caution to those in the affected regions after the deadly cyclone ravaged communities around the U.S.