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Florida

EXPLAINER: How the Blizzard Stunned Even Winter-Accustomed Buffalo

toll due to weekend blizzard that hit buffalo The region was approaching 40 deaths Wednesday from the region’s deadliest storm in generations. Holmes It’s just starting to get warmer after a long dry day. The driver still claims the abandoned car.

In a region that prides itself on being able to handle frequent heavy snowfalls, the obvious question is:

Officials said they had declared a state of emergency, warned residents, and deployed crews and equipment before the first storm winds picked up. What crew members can do even when responding to 911 calls.

On Wednesday, tensions surfaced between two elected officials in the area, with Erie County Administrator Mark Polonkers pounding a snow clearing operation at the Buffalo county seat, driving bans being maintained, and state troopers closing. assisted in its implementation.

“Unfortunately, this city is always the last to open,” said Polonkers. “It’s embarrassing to tell the truth”

In the aftermath of the storm, many of the dead were found outdoors, while others were inside snow-covered cars and unheated homes. Some were damaged after snow removal. Some died while waiting for help during the medical crisis.

Watch the response and aftermath.

predict

Meteorologists saw it coming. Four days before the severe weather hit him on December 19, the National Weather Service warned of a powerful storm, repeating the warning in increasing detail each day. The December 20 emergency advisory warned of blizzards and heavy snow. By December 21, forecasters called it a “once in a generation” storm. Heavy snow, high winds, wind chills of -10 to 25 degrees Celsius (-23 to 32 degrees Celsius) and a blizzard warning describing “difficult or impossible travel” through Christmas weekend will follow on Friday. It was posted to go into effect at 7am.

Prepare and respond

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said a “potentially life-threatening storm” was coming, and announced on Thursday that the city would be in a state of emergency if the storm arrived the next morning. , government agencies from Erie County and neighboring Niagara and Chautauqua Counties flooded in.

government Cassie Hochul Extending the state of emergency Thursday, saying state equipment and personnel are on standby, the State Thruway Administration, which oversees interstate highways connecting Buffalo and other major cities across the state, said commercial vehicles has announced that it will be banned for a while. Area at 6am on a Friday.

“We strongly encourage private businesses to close on Friday and Saturday,” Erie County Administrator Polonkers said in a public briefing, using a slideshow to forecast, blizzard conditions, frostbite and hypothermia. explained the dangers of

By Friday, the county had upgraded its travel advisory to a ban — critics said it was too late for employees instructed to go to work, which Poloncarz later said was aimed at three-shift work. He said the situation had worsened sooner than expected.

Some people ventured anyway. Among them was Shaun Reish, his 41-year-old salesman from the Cheektowaga suburb. He came to regret buying milk and bread on Friday afternoons.

“When I pulled up one of the main streets, it was like an incredible whiteout, to the point where you literally couldn’t see anything,” he said.

When he arrived, the store was closed, and as he was stuck in the parking lot, someone lent him a shovel to dig up a Nissan Sentra laden with presents for young children.

He barely made it home, sticking his head out the window to be exposed to the cold wind and “breathtakingly” to avoid being blown away.

“I kept saying to my wife all night, ‘I don’t think you realize how lucky I am to be here.’ How lucky are you? I can’t believe you

storm veteran

It is no surprise that it is difficult to get people to heed the warning. But experts say the danger is even higher as climate change intensifies all kinds of global weather events.

“People tend to normalize…” Well, I’ve lived here my whole life. , Federal Emergency Management Agency during the Obama administration. “I think this will get us serious about extreme weather…we are witnessing events beyond our past experience, and they are beyond our comprehension.”

Fugate noted the death toll from Hurricane Ian in Lee County, Florida, this fall and the county’s decision to issue a mandatory evacuation order just one day before the storm hit, choosing to wait for surrounding counties to do so. pointed out the criticisms faced by

With a blizzard approaching the last shopping day before Christmas Eve, many employees said they felt pressured to go to work, citing the lack of a driving ban.

“If there’s any criticism that it wasn’t done right, I accept it,” Polonkatz said Wednesday.

holiday

Erie County Emergency Services Commissioner Dan Nieberth Jr. said he had to put his foot down to prevent his family from doing last-minute holiday errands in the storm.

“This is how, exactly where, heading into the holiday weekend,” he said. … but not everyone was in favor of their father.

criticism

Some Buffalo residents, about 27 percent of whom live in poverty, said it was unrealistic to defy instructions to “stock up” on food and medicine before the storm. .

After volunteer snowmobile operators and emergency responders from outside agencies dispatched personnel and equipment, some questioned whether the region had enough specialized equipment to deal with the increasingly common extreme weather. increase. Poloncarz proposed Wednesday that counties with more funding and other resources should take over the city’s future storm planning.

As the National Guard conducts health checks on Wednesday, National Guard spokesman Eric Dahl warns that people trapped in cars, frozen in homes without power or suffering from medical emergencies Addressed complaints that members did not respond to the sometimes desperate pleas that fill the social media of

Hochul said Friday that 54 members of the National Guard and five vehicles will be deployed to Erie County to assist.

At some point Saturday, almost all fire engines and a number of police vehicles in Buffalo were stranded, and residents of Buffalo and several suburbs were told emergency services were unavailable. Plows were also pulled from the road.

“Without the fire department, the National Guard might not be able to get there,” Dahl said.

On Saturday, Hochul announced additional troops. By Tuesday, more than 500 National Guard soldiers were in western New York, according to her office.

political influence

In response to Poloncarz’s criticism of the city’s response, Brown said the city had taken the brunt of the storm and its narrow residential streets posed challenges. ‘ suggested that.

“Some continue to work, others are trying to help residents in the community,” Brown said.

“I have no feuds,” he said.

future

Erie County Sheriff John Garcia was among those looking for ways to improve after first responders stopped answering calls, and said “better facilities, more facilities” would help. .

“I never thought it would be this bad,” he said. “So do we need to get better? Absolutely.”

Fugate said FEMA benefits from talking to hurricane survivors and asking them why they made the decisions they made.

“You can’t ask that of those who lost their lives, but you can ask that of those who are stuck,” he said. What more information did you need?”

___

Associated Press reporter Heather Hollingsworth contributed from the Kansas Mission.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/ap-explainer-homes-federal-emergency-management-agency-buffalo-b2252722.html EXPLAINER: How the Blizzard Stunned Even Winter-Accustomed Buffalo

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