Death toll rises to 13 in New York snowstorm
NEW YORK: The death toll rose to 13 on Friday from a
killer snowstorm in western New York state where rising temperatures and heavy
rain will compound misery by causing severe flooding into next week.
Blizzards dumped a year’s supply of snow in just days
south of Buffalo city, bringing down 30 buildings, imperilling mobile homes and
Erie County chief executive Mark Poloncarz said 13
people had died and warned that further deaths could not be ruled out as rescue
workers continue to dig out vehicles trapped in the snow.
The latest fatalities were two elderly people who died
during and immediately after being evacuated from a nursing home, and a 50-year-old
man found dead in his vehicle.
The National Weather Service says "lake effect
snow," created when frigid air moves over warm lake waters, remains a risk
until noon but that only a few more inches are expected to fall Friday.
New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the
state thruway would reopen in parts to essential travel from 3:00 pm but warned
against unnecessary journeys as conditions remain perilous.
The improving weather would also allow for the massive
snow removal effort to quicken pace, with the National Guard bringing in extra
people and the arrival of additional equipment.
Cuomo, who has declared a state of emergency, said he
had spoken to the White House on Thursday and said President Barack Obama sent
his best wishes and that a full damages assessment could yet prompt a federal
"It's a matter of life and death literally,"
Poloncarz described "Winter Storm Knife" as
one of the worst he could remember and said the worst-hit areas had been
affected more than during the deadly blizzard of 1977.
"In the areas worst impacted it was worse than
1977 but it did not hit the entire community as did in 1977," he told