Buffalo roads reopen as search for storm victims continues

Buffalo, N.Y. — Roads reopened Thursday in storm-stricken Buffalo as authorities continued to search for people who may have died or were trapped and suffering after last week’s snowstorms.

Mayor Byron Brown announced the lifting of the ban on driving in New York’s second most populous city just after midnight Thursday.

“Significant progress” has been made on snow removal, he said at a news conference late Wednesday. Suburban roads, major highways and the Buffalo Niagara International Airport have reopened.

Still, Brown urged residents not to drive unless necessary.

Buffalo was targeted on Friday and Saturday as the blizzard ravaged much of the country, with more than three dozen deaths reported in western New York.

The National Guard went door-to-door to check on people without power, and authorities faced the possibility of finding more victims as the weather became milder and the snow melted. Officials from the Buffalo police and other law enforcement agencies are also looking for victims, sometimes using the officers’ personal snowmobiles, trucks and other equipment.

With the death toll already surpassing the death toll from the region’s infamous 1977 blizzard, local officials faced questions about how to respond to last week’s storm. They insisted they were prepared, but the weather was unusual, even for an area prone to severe winter storms.

“The city did everything it could do in the conditions of the historic snowstorm,” the Democratic mayor said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, officials watched a forecast that called for some rain later in the week as the snowpack melted in temperatures near or above 50 degrees (10 Celsius).

The National Weather Service predicted that any flooding would be mild, but state and local officials said they were preparing. Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state was ready to deploy nearly 800,000 sandbags and more than 300 pumps and generators to deal with flooding if needed.