"We are recovering from one of the worst storms we have ever seen, unfortunately with the highest death toll we have ever had from any storm," Erie County Administrator Mark Poloncarz told reporters. According to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, police expect more deaths.
In Buffalo, thousands of people remained without power after the Christmas holiday. Dead people were found in their cars or under snowdrifts. Rescue workers went from vehicle to vehicle in search of other fatalities or stranded drivers.
Anndel Taylor, 22, from Buffalo, died in her car after getting stuck in the snow on her way home from work, WSOC-TV reported, citing her family. Emergency services, who got stuck themselves during a rescue attempt, found her dead 18 hours later. According to her family, the young woman may have died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
A father told the New York Times that he was stuck in his car in Buffalo with his four young children for 11 hours. Zila Santiago, 30, ran his engine to generate heat and fed his children juice he found in the trunk. They were eventually rescued by a passing snowplow at dawn.
Meanwhile, a driving ban for Buffalo remained in effect on Tuesday. "You can definitely go out and see the neighbors, go to open shops, etc. But don't drive," Poloncarz wrote on Twitter.
Some residents of the city, used to snowstorms, criticized that the driving ban imposed on Friday morning came too late to avoid chaos. Too many people were still driving and not obeying the ban, "so the cars blocked all the roads, which made it a lot harder to get home," said Mark Eguliar from Buffalo, who was there for 40 hours stuck at his job.
Air traffic was also further restricted by the snowstorm. Buffalo's airport remained closed, with more than 5,900 flights canceled nationwide on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to flightaware.com. The airline Southwest Airlines was particularly affected, with more than 60 percent of the flights being cancelled.
President Biden approved emergency aid for the state of New York. He and his wife Jill prayed for the families of the victims of the blizzard, the White House said. "My heart goes out to those who have lost a loved one," Biden wrote on Twitter.
The US Weather Service predicted thaw for western New York State in the coming days. After sometimes double-digit minus degrees, temperatures of around ten degrees Celsius are now predicted for the weekend. Authorities are already warning of flooding from melting snow.