US President Joe Biden has approved an emergency declaration for New York amid the ongoing deadly blizzard as requested by state Governor Kathy Hochul.
In a statement late Monday, the White House said the President “declared that an emergency exists” in the state and “ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from a severe winter storm beginning on December 23”.
“The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures,” the statement added.
As of Monday, New York recorded at least 27 deaths from the ongoing winter storm, bringing the total casualties in the US to 55.
Erie County confirmed 25 deaths from the massive storm, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
The ongoing blizzard has caused more deaths to Erie County than the blizzard of 1977, which led to 23 storm-related deaths in western New York.
Meanwhile, the region around Buffalo has been the worst affected.
Biden’s move came in response to Hochul’s request who said that “it is (like) going to a war zone, and the vehicles along the sides of the roads are shocking”.
She said residents were facing a “life-threatening situation”, as many emergency vehicles were unable to reach worst-hit areas or got stuck in snow themselves.
Numerous State highways in New York continue to remain closed to all traffic.
Heavy snow is expected to continue to impact areas off Lake Ontario and Lake Erie this week. Another one to two feet of snow is expected east of Lake Ontario through Tuesday, with snowfall rates of three inches per hour on Monday.
The Buffalo area is expected to receive up to an additional foot of snow over the next few days, before temperatures rise later this week and through the weekend.
The “bomb cyclone” winter storm — which occurs when atmospheric pressure plummets, causing heavy snow and winds — has disrupted travel across the US.
Forecasters say it will ease off in the next few days, but the advice remains to avoid travelling unless essential.