New York : As a result of the “historic” winter storm that has battered the US and parts of Canada since December 22, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has submitted a request to President Joe Biden for a federal emergency declaration.
The Governor’s request on Monday comes as the Arctic storm continues to impact Western New York and the North Country regions, with blizzard-like conditions, sustained wind gusts of more than 60 miles per hour, and well below freezing temperatures, says a statement from Hochul’s office.
New York City has so far recorded 28 weather-related deaths, while the region around Buffalo has been worst affected.
Governor Hochul, a native of Buffalo, said: “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.
In response, the Governor has also deployed an additional 220 National Guard soldiers to the Western New York region, bringing the total of deployments to approximately 430.
“I want to thank everyone at the state and local public safety agencies who stepped up and worked throughout the holiday weekend,” Governor Hochul was quoted as saying in the statement.
“I have spoken to President Biden who has agreed to swiftly approve our federal emergency declaration, which will be crucial to assist our recovery efforts from this historic storm…
“While we continue to do everything we can to help Western New York recover and await federal assistance, I want everyone in impacted areas to continue to stay off the roads and check in on loved ones and neighbours,” she added.
Numerous State highways in the Western New York region remain closed to all traffic, as of Monday afternoon. The New York State Thruway (I-90) remains closed to all traffic between exit 46 in Rochester to the Pennsylvania line.
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.
Blizzard conditions, which stretched from Canada to the Mexican border, have now killed at least 56 people.
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.