The death toll from a monster blizzard is still rising in western New York, where structural damage from the heavy snowis making roofs creak and officials in and around Buffalo are bracing for possible flooding, according to reports.
The most recent deaths include two people who were being transported from a nursing home, which was being evacuated, the Buffalo News reported early Friday morning. “We know that relocating people from nursing homes is a very tough thing,” deputy county executive Rich Tobe told the paper.
That means that the extreme lake-effect storm, which has dumped as much as 85 inches of snow on the area, has claimed 13 victims so far. Most of them, the News reported, were killed by “cardiac issues when victims attempted to shovel snow or push vehicles.”
The nursing home was evacuated out of concerns of structural damage to the building, Tobe told the Associated Press. Overnight, authorities received reports of at least 30 roof collapses.
“It’s getting heavier,” Cheektowaga resident Thomas Mudd Jr., who cleared snow from his roof with his wife, told the AP. “It’s supposed to warm up, and we’re supposed to get rain on the weekend, which will make it even heavier. So I didn’t want my roof collapsing.”
Temperatures in the area are expected to soar into the 60s by Monday, according to The Post’s Capital Weather Gang.
“The warming will bring melting. The melting will bring water. Water will bring floods,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said at a news conference, according to Reuters. “We are preparing now for more flooding than we have seen in a long, long time. We’ve never had this much snow and this much melting of this much snow in a short period of time.”
Cuomo announced at the news conference that sections of the New York State Thruway will reopen Friday afternoon, mostly to allow crews to remove abandoned vehicles and snow.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told The Post in an interview that “we’re waiting for the governor to request a disaster declaration. I’ve been in touch with the White House and am making sure that FEMA is on the ground because in Buffalo, they’ve had some issues in the past in making sure they get their disaster requests in fast enough.”
Schumer added that “the biggest danger is the roofs. And on Monday and Tuesday, the temperatures are going to climb into the 50s and it might rain, so there’s concern that all that snow is just going to act like a sponge and absorb more water and put more weight on the roofs.”
Thirty roofs have collapsed across the region so far, Schumer said.
Here are more pictures from New York:
[This post has been updated.]