Buffalo expects to find more victims of winter storm

BUFFALO, N.Y. (HPD) — The city of Buffalo, the second-largest in New York state, was about to emerge from a deep freeze Wednesday, getting some relief but also the tragic possibility to find more victims after the area’s deadliest storm in decades.

National Guard members were going door-to-door in parts of Buffalo to check on people who lost power.

“We are afraid that there are people who have died, who are living alone or people who are not well,” said Mark Poloncarz, the top official in Erie County, which includes Buffalo.

Authorities have so far reported the deaths of 30 people due to the blizzard that ravaged Friday and Saturday in western New York, an area prone to heavy snowfall. The historic blizzard of 1977 killed 29.

Antwaine Parker told The Buffalo News his mother, Carolyn Eubanks, died at the home of foster strangers after her family tried to get help for the sick woman.

Eubanks, 63, was dependent on an oxygen machine. With no power at home and emergency services unable to answer calls in the blizzard, Parker said, he and her stepbrother drove through the snow Saturday to rescue her themselves. But her mother couldn’t take it anymore when they tried to get into the car.

“She said ‘I can’t go any further.’ I told her ‘mom, just get up’. She fell into my arms and she didn’t say another word,” Parker told a newspaper.

The stepbrothers knocked on nearby doors, looking for someone to help them. They found David Purdy, who opened the door for two desperate strangers and helped them carry Eubanks inside and try in vain to revive her.

After they realized he was dead, Purdy and his fiancée protected his body until first responders arrived the next day.

“I did it in the most respectful way that I could,” Purdy told The Buffalo News. Her own mother is about the same age as Eubanks and she also uses an oxygen machine, she said, and “if she needed help, I hope there are people there to help her too.”

Temperatures were expected to rise to 7 degrees Celsius (about 44 Fahrenheit) on Wednesday and to 19 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) by Friday, the National Weather Service reported.

Authorities on Tuesday restricted road use due to heavy snow while working to clear storm drains and warned of rain later in the week. Officials in Erie County, which includes Buffalo, said Tuesday they were concerned about the possibility of flooding.

While suburban roads and most major highways in the area reopened, there was still a driving ban in place in Buffalo, and state troopers and the military were enforcing the order.

A Facebook group originally created in 2014, when Buffalo was buried under snow, has become a lifeline, seeking to help thousands of people seeking food, medicine, shelter and rescue in this storm. The group grew to at least 68,000 followers on Tuesday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *