US snow storm: Latest figures take death toll up to 61

Access to the comments Comments
By Sarah Palmer  & AFP
The snow storm has caused chaos across Buffalo and cost 61 people their lives
The snow storm has caused chaos across Buffalo and cost 61 people their lives   -   Copyright  AFP

Two more deaths have been recorded in connection with the storm that chilled much of the United States around Christmas, bringing the toll of this historic blizzard to at least 61 dead, authorities announced on Thursday.

Both deaths occurred in Erie County, New York, where the city of Buffalo is located.

At least 39 people have died there and the number is likely to rise further, county official Mark Poloncarz told a news conference. Among them, four were found in cars, 11 in houses and 17 outside, he said.

As the temperatures warm up, authorities are worried that rapid snowmelt could cause flooding.

"Fortunately, it looks like the flooding is going to be minimal. There is a good chance of flooding, but it looks like it won't be serious," Poloncarz said.

Finally, power has been restored for everyone in the county, he added, and the driving ban has been lifted.

The Buffalo area, though used to harsh winters, was hit hard by the storm. Heavy snowfall, freezing wind and sudden drop in temperatures wreaked havoc, to the point that the rescue teams themselves found themselves stranded.

Euronews spoke to one local resident, Angela, who’s brother-in-law works for National Grid and has been stranded at a hotel since Friday last week.

“The storm lasted two full days, the wind and snow was just terrible. Luckily I didn’t lose power at my home but we have run out of milk and bread.”

Local authorities must now respond to criticism, which questions their management of the crisis.

The cold was felt to varying degrees in a large part of the country, as far as Texas and Florida, states unaccustomed to such weather conditions.

The storm also caused major disruptions at airports, with thousands of flight cancellations.