As the United States hopes to be over soon with the “blizzard of the century”, which has killed at least 50 people across the country, stories of terrified families stranded by the storm or people dying in their cars have multiplied tuesday.
The extreme cold that has hit the United States for several days has been accompanied by heavy snowfall and strong winds, particularly in the Great Lakes region, causing chaos in road and air transport and forcing the cancellation of thousands of flights around Christmas.
At several airports, the same scenes: hundreds of people queuing after their trip was canceled and luggage piled up.
The inclement weather, described as “once in a generation,” is expected to start easing over the East and Midwest on Tuesday.
But they killed at least 50 people, including 31 in Erie County alone, which includes the city of Buffalo, New York. A higher toll is to be feared, according to the authorities, as relief progresses and clears.
“We’re recovering from one of the worst storms we’ve ever seen, unfortunately with the highest death toll we’ve ever had in a storm,” Erie County official Mark Poloncarz said on Tuesday. of a press conference. “We will never forget it,” he added.
Western New York State, although accustomed to harsh winters, suffered particularly, after being buried under meters of snow, suffering from polar temperatures.
– Rescuers blocked –
In Buffalo, a 22-year-old young woman, trapped by snow, died in her car, according to her family. A video sent by the victim and posted by his sister shows him rolling down the window of his vehicle, surrounded by snow during the blizzard.
Buffalo resident Mark Eguliar told AFP he was stuck at work “for more than 40 hours”.
“I’ve been in Buffalo since 1970 (…) and this is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in Buffalo”, expressed his side Joe Mergl, another resident of this large city near the border with the border with the Canada.
Buffalo Deputy Mayor Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney told CNN on Tuesday that “rescuers flew to the aid of other rescuers.”
“It was necessary to first help the relief workers so that they could go and help the population,” she explained.
Precisely, some wondered about the city’s response to the announced storm, wondering if the ban on driving should not have been decreed earlier.
“There was a lot of snow, cars were stuck and people were still trying to drive,” Buffalo resident Chris Ortiz told AFP.
An emergency services worker quoted by the Washington Post, herself stuck in her ambulance for 14 hours without food or water, said “most (emergency) calls came from people trapped in their cars”.
“The truth is, those people in stuck vehicles shouldn’t have been there,” the employee said.
– Dangerous conditions –
This driving ban remained in effect Tuesday for the city of Buffalo, tweeted Mark Poloncarz, the local official.
“You are hampering clearing efforts” by traveling to Buffalo, he told reporters on Tuesday, warning that conditions remained dangerous.
City police also announced the arrest of eight individuals by its anti-looting force set up with the storm.
“These are not people stealing food, medicine, or baby diapers,” Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaglia said. “They destroy shops, steal televisions, sofas, anything they can get their hands on,” he added.
On Monday, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said: “This is clearly the blizzard of the century.”
Even if the intensity of the storm is no longer that of recent days, it is “still dangerous to be outside”, she warned.
The US Weather Service (NWS) has warned of “locally dangerous traffic conditions”.
The total of deaths confirmed by the authorities across nine American states is for the moment at least 50 dead.