Anndel Taylor (22) was found dead in her car after she became stranded over the weekend on her way home from work
Anndel Taylor (22) was found dead in her car after she became stranded over the weekend on her way home from work in Buffalo in western New York state.
She was one of 35 people in the city to succumb to the extreme cold in the worst winter storm to hit the United States in two generations.
The US was yesterday told to brace for yet more snowfall and for the death toll – which has reached 60 nationally – to rise further.
Ms Taylor was trapped in her vehicle for 18 hours, as more than 50 inches of snow surrounded her vehicle.
In her final messages to family over WhatsApp on Christmas Eve, she said she was “scared” and sent two videos capturing the blizzard blowing around her.
She shows the windshields of her car completely covered in snow as she rolls down her window.
It is not clear if Ms Taylor died from hypothermia or from carbon monoxide poisoning after snow blocked her vehicle’s exhaust pipe as she attempted to keep herself warm. Her family in Charlotte, North Carolina, told local media that they were unaware of the extent of what western New York was experiencing.
“I don’t know if any of us really knew how serious it was, we didn’t see the news, we didn’t really know what was going on in Buffalo,” said her sister, Shawnequa Brown. “I feel like everybody that tried to get to her got stuck.”
In Buffalo, the dead were found in cars, homes and snowbanks.
Some died while shovelling snow, others when emergency crews could not respond in time to medical crises.
State and military police were sent in yesterday to keep people off the city’s snow-choked roads three days after western New York’s record-breaking storms.
Even as suburban roads and most major highways in the area reopened, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz warned that police would be stationed at entrances to Buffalo and at major intersections because some drivers were flouting a ban on driving within New York’s second-most populous city.
The death toll surpasses that of the historic Blizzard of 1977, blamed for killing as many as 29 people in an area known for harsh winter weather.
Greg Monett turned to social media to beg for help shovelling a 1.8-metre pile of snow from the end of his Buffalo drive so he could get dialysis treatment yesterday.
“This has been a nightmare,” he said in an interview on Monday.
Power had been out for a time at his family’s home, he said, so relatives ran a gas stove to keep warm, a practice he acknowledged was dangerous.
“We had to do what we had to do,” said Monett (43).
“We would have froze to death in here.”
He ultimately made it to dialysis after climbing through the snow and having neighbours help dig out his buried vehicle, his sister Maria Monett said.
The National Weather Service predicted yesterday that as much as 2.5-5cm more snow could fall overnight in Erie County, which includes Buffalo and its 275,000 residents.
County Emergency Services Commissioner Dan Neaverth Jr said officials were also concerned about the potential for flooding later in the week, when the weather is projected to warm up and start melting the snow.
The rest of the United States also was reeling from the ferocious winter storm, with at least an additional two dozen deaths reported in other parts of the country, and power outages in communities from Maine to Washington state.
On the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s reservation in South Dakota, there were plans to use snowmobiles yesterday to reach residents after food boxes were delivered by helicopter and trucks over the weekend, a spokesman said.
President Joe Biden offered federal assistance on Monday to New York, allowing for reimbursement of some storm-relief efforts.
Governor Kathy Hochul toured the aftermath in Buffalo, her hometown, and called the blizzard “one for the ages”.
Almost every fire truck in the city became stranded on Saturday, she said.
Ms Hochul, a Democrat, noted the storm came a little over a month after the region was inundated with another historic snowfall.
Between the two storms, snowfall totals are not far off from the 242 centimetres the area normally sees in an entire winter season.
The National Weather Service said the snow total at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport stood at 1.25 metres on Monday morning.
Officials said the airport would be closed until this morning.
About 3,000 domestic and international US flights were cancelled by mid-afternoon yesterday according to the tracking site FlightAware.
The US Department of Transportation said it will look into Southwest Airlines flight cancellations that left travellers stranded at airports across the country amid the winter storm.
Many airlines were forced to call off flights, but Southwest was by far the worst affected.