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Poloncarz Apologizes; Two More Storm Fatalities Increase the Total to 40
An earlier version of this story exaggerated the number of storm-related deaths. Poloncarz predicted that the storm would kill three times as many people as the May 14 mass massacre. BUFFALO, New York (WIVB) — Erie County’s death toll has now surpassed that of the Blizzard of ’77, bringing the total known storm deaths in western New York to 40.
According to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, 17 of those who died in Erie County were discovered outside, four in cars, and 11 inside residences. Four more people died as a result of shoveling or blowing snow, while three more died as a result of medical personnel’s slow response.
Poloncarz highlighted that 31 of the people who died were from Buffalo, including the 13 most recent deaths recorded, during an update on the data early Thursday afternoon. Seven of the victims were from Amherst, Williamsville, Depew, or Cheektowaga, while one remains unidentified.
He stated that the overall number of deaths being considered by the community is three times that of the Jefferson Avenue Tops grocery mass shooting, which killed ten people in May. According to Poloncarz, 18 of the storm’s victims were white, 20 were black, and one was Hispanic.
WNY charities coordinate a snow removal initiative on the East Side. A four-month-old died on Christmas Day, although it’s unclear whether the death was caused by the storm. Poloncarz claims that the county was also led to believe that another child perished in a drowning incident at a nearby hotel, but that youngster was rescued and survived.
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Officials have received other bodies, but it is unclear whether their deaths were caused by the storm. The only death reported outside of Erie County occurred in Lockport, when a 27-year-old man died of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Niagara County officials.
The statements of County Executive Mark Poloncarz in reaction to the city’s snow removal efforts have recently sparked controversy. During a briefing Wednesday, Poloncarz said, “The mayor’s not going to be happy to hear about it, but storm after storm after storm after storm, the city, sadly, is the last one to be opened and that shouldn’t be the case. To tell you the truth, it’s humiliating.”
‘It’s embarrassing,’ says County Executive on Buffalo snow removal. Poloncarz began his virtual conference on Thursday by apologizing to the community. “I basically lost my focus,” Poloncarz admitted, adding that his emotions got the best of him and that his attention should have been on cleanup and recovery activities.
The County Executive has since contacted Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. The cleanup operations have come at a high price, with Poloncarz estimating that the county has spent $5 million on private contractors. Just on Wednesday, the county spent $1 million on cleanup activities in Buffalo.
The expense of gas is included in those millions of dollars. Poloncarz stated on Twitter that “crews’ equipment is using 2,000 gallons of petrol every four hours.” Storm-related power outages, thankfully, are no longer a major worry. Following reports of tens of thousands of outages, NYSEG and National Grid have since fixed them.
According to the DPW, plows have made at least one pass through Buffalo streets. Flooding has also been of many people’s concern, especially with the weather steadily warming up this week. “Fortunately, it appears that flooding will be minor,” Poloncarz said during the Thursday briefing. In addition, considerable ice jamming is not envisaged. When are some local creeks and rivers likely to crest?