Washington: At least 62 people have died in the US due to the catastrophic winter storm that continues to wreak havoc across the country since it started on December 22, officials said.
Erie County in New York has reported the 37 deaths, the highest in the country as crews continue to clear roads and first responders are checking on people they couldn’t reach days ago, reports CNN.
The remaining 25 fatalities were reported across 11 states.
“It’s a horrible storm with too many deaths,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said at a news conference on Wednesday as he praised first responders, without whom “more people would have died”.
“We are fearful that there are individuals who may have perished living alone or people who were not doing well in an establishment, especially those that still don’t have power,” he added.
The storm buried the city of Buffalo in Erie County in nearly 52 inches of snow, trapping residents at home, many without heat as the Christmas weekend blizzard took out power lines.
Also on Wednesday, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph A. Gramaglia told CNN that he expects rising temperatures in the coming days will melt the snow and uncover more storm victims.
In a statement, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said: “People got stranded in their vehicles and passed away in their cars. We have people that were walking during blizzard conditions and passed away on the street, passed away in snowbanks.
“And we have people that were found that passed away in their homes.”
Elsewhere in the US, more than 70,000 customers were without power in Washington and Oregon as of Wednesday afternoon, according to outage tracker PowerOutage.us.
The storm is expected to “linger into the upcoming weekend”, the Weather Prediction Center said, adding that some areas could get up to six inches of rainfall.
A surge of heavy rain or mountain snow is also expected on the west and the US south on Thursday and could continue through the end of the week, according to the Center.
In Canada, some residents are still battling power cuts as a result of the storm, including about 19,000 customers in the province of Quebec, public utility provider Hydro-Quebec said on Wednesday.
In Ontario, more than 10,000 customers were still without power, according to power supplier Hydro One.