National Guard inspects Buffalo homes for storm victims

Buffalo, New York — As National Guard troops went door-to-door in parts of Buffalo on Wednesday to check on people who lost power during the region’s deadliest winter storm in decades, authorities faced the tragic possibility of finding more victims amid the snowmelt.

National Guard members are knocking on the doors of Buffalo and its suburbs as the bitter cold turns to milder weather, said Mark Poloncarz, the top official in the county where Buffalo is New York’s second most populous city. of those blocks.

“We were concerned that someone might have died, was living alone, or wasn’t doing well,” he said.

So far, more than 30 people have been reported dead from the snowstorm that ravaged Friday and Saturday in western New York, an area prone to severe winter storms, officials said. The historic snowstorm of 1977 killed as many as 29 people.

antwayne parker tell the buffalo news His mother, Carolyn Eubanks, died in the home of the stranger who adopted her after her family tried to get help for the sick woman.

Eubanks, 63, relies on an oxygen machine. Parker said he and his stepbrother drove through the snow Saturday to rescue her after emergency responders were unable to answer calls during the blizzard because the power was out at her home. She collapsed when they took her to a car, he said.

“She was like, ‘I can’t go anymore.’ I begged her, ‘Mom, stand up.’ “She fell into my arms and never said a word,” Parker told the newspaper.

The half-brother knocked on the door, looking for someone willing to help. They found David Purdy, who held his door open for two desperate strangers, helping them carry Eubanks inside, but without success.

After they realized she was gone, Purdy and his fiancée protected her body until first responders showed up the next day with a plow.

“I did my best to be respectful,” Purdy told the Buffalo News. His own mother, who is around Eubanks’ age and uses an oxygen machine, said, “If she needs help, I want someone to help her too.”

The National Weather Service said temperatures are expected to rise into the high 40s on Wednesday before dropping to the low 50s by Friday.

Buffalo Niagara International Airport, closed for days by the storm, reopened Wednesday, though the airport’s website listed nearly all scheduled flights as canceled or delayed.

There is still enough snow on the ground driving is still prohibited In Buffalo, officials worked to clear storm drains and observed rain in the forecast for later in the week. Erie County officials said they were preparing for possible flooding and ice jams in local creeks.

The Bureau of Meteorology said on Wednesday that “any flooding is expected to be of a minor or nuisance type.”

While the area’s suburban roads and most major highways reopened Tuesday, Buffalo still has a driving ban in place and has assigned state and military police to enforce it. Erie County Executive Poloncarz, a Democrat, said the goal is to have at least one lane open on every street by Wednesday night.

The Facebook group, originally created in 2014 when Buffalo was buried deep in the snow, has become a lifeline to help thousands of people seek food, medicine, shelter and rescue during the latest storm. Currently run by five women, the group had swelled to at least 68,000 people as of Tuesday.

“We’ve seen a lot of desperation,” Erin Aquilinia, founder of the original group, said in an online interview.

Erie County Sheriff’s Deputy William Cooley said deputies were helping people with important medical appointments, such as dialysis.

___

Peltz reported from New York. Associated Press writers Susan Haigh in Hartford, Connecticut, and Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.