With warming temperatures, snowy buffalo braces to find more dead

BUFFALO, NY (AP) — Buffalo was expected to emerge from a freeze on Wednesday, bringing some relief but also the tragic possibility of finding more victims amid melting snow from the region’s deadliest storm in decades.

Officials said more than 30 people are believed to have died so far from the blizzard that raged Friday and Saturday in western New York, an area prone to powerful winter storms. The historic blizzard of 1977 killed up to 29 people.

Antwaine Parker told The Buffalo News that her mother, Carolyn Eubanks, died at the home of strangers who took her in after her family tried to get help for the sick woman.

Eubanks, 63, relied on an oxygen machine. With the power cut to her home and emergency responders unable to respond to calls amid the blizzard, Parker said, he and his half-brother drove through the snow Saturday to rescue her themselves. She collapsed as they led her to a car, he said.

“She’s like, ‘I can’t go any further.’ I beg her, ‘Mom, get up.’ She fell into my arms and never said another word,” Parker told the newspaper.

The half-brothers knocked on nearby doors, looking for someone who could help them. They found David Purdy, who opened his door to two desperate strangers and helped them carry Eubanks inside and tried unsuccessfully to revive her.

After realizing she was gone, Purdy and his fiancée sheltered her body until first responders showed up with plows the next day.

“I did it as respectfully as possible,” Purdy told The Buffalo News. His own mother is around the same age as Eubanks and also uses an oxygen machine, he said, and “if she needs help, I hope there will be people there too. help him.”

Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-40s (around 7 degrees Celsius) on Wednesday and the low 50s (around 10 degrees Celsius) by Friday, the National Weather Service said.

With enough snow on the ground that driving was still prohibited in New York’s second-most populous city, officials worked to clear storm drains and saw a forecast that called for rain later in the week. Officials in Erie County, which includes Buffalo, said Tuesday they were concerned about the possibility of flooding.

The weather service said Wednesday that “any flooding is expected to be minor or harmful.”

While suburban roads and most major highways in the area reopened on Tuesday, there was still a driving ban in Buffalo, and state and military police were tasked with enforcing it. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat, said “too many people are ignoring the ban.”

A Facebook group originally created in 2014, when Buffalo was buried under deep snow, has become a lifeline, seeking to help thousands of people in search of food, medicine, shelter and rescue during the last storm. Currently led by five women, the group grew to at least 68,000 on Tuesday.

“We are seeing a lot of desperation,” Erin Aquilinia, founder of the original group, said in an online interview.


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