Blizzard death toll at 33; military police, state troopers coming to town for traffic control

At least 33 people have died as a result of the blizzard, with all but one of the lives lost in Erie County.

And as post-blizzard recovery efforts entered their third day, government officials said they were stepping up efforts to control traffic while they continued to plead with drivers to stay off the roads in Buffalo, where a driving ban remains in effect.

One-hundred military police from the National Guard, along with state troopers from other parts of the state, will arrive in the area later Tuesday “to manage traffic control because it has become so evident that too many people are ignoring the ban,” County Executive Mark Poloncarz said during a morning briefing.

These police will be stationed at entrances to the city and at major intersections “not allowing people to get through,” Poloncarz said.

One goal in snow removal efforts is to have at least one lane of traffic open on every street over the next two days, he said.

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And while emergency response officials continue to work to clear roads, the death toll continues to mount.

More people in Western New York have died due to this storm than died as a result of the Blizzard of ’77.

The County Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed 28 storm-related deaths, Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz announced three new storm-related deaths Tuesday, but said the overall death toll rose by only one. That’s because two deaths in Cheektowaga, initially thought to be storm-related, have been found to be unrelated to the storm, he said.

“They were medical conditions that were not saveable,” the Medical Examiner’s Office has determined, according to Poloncarz.

Poloncarz also previously announced two deaths in Amherst, one death in Depew and another in Williamsville.

Earlier Tuesday, a City of Buffalo spokesman said there have been 27 storm-related deaths in the city alone.

Mayor Byron W. Brown said during a subsequent morning briefing that Buffalo’s toll had grown by one to 28.

President Biden has authorized a federal disaster declaration for Erie and Genesee counties, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday morning.

The only storm-related death confirmed outside Erie County happened in Niagara County, where A 27-year-old Lockport man was found dead Sunday from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office reported. He was identified Tuesday by the Sheriff’s Office as Timothy M. Murphy. A woman in the home, Kathy D. Murphy, remained in intensive care at Mount St. Mary’s.

More than 5,600 households in Erie County remained without electricity Tuesday morning, including nearly 4,000 in the City of Buffalo.

The County Sheriff’s Office did plenty of planning in advance of the storm and there have been no fatalities reported in the portions of the county the agency covers, Sheriff John Garcia said.

Garcia said even though the area regularly handles serious winter storms, conditions during the points in the storm created zero visibility and rendered some first responders helpless to go out for first aid calls,.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said.

He said some response improvements to be made include more equipment and “better” equipment,” he said.

“We never thought that it was going to be as bad as it was,” Garcia said. “So do we have to get better? Absolutely.”

The weather forecast for coming days, with rain and temperatures above freezing – including two days with highs expected in the 50s – is causing a bit of concern about flooding for county emergency response officials.

The primary focus remains to remove snow “curb to curb” to allow snowmelt to drain properly, County Emergency Services Commissioner Daniel Neaverth Jr. said.

“We’re a little bit concerned about it, obviously, but we are going to do whatever we need to do to address that as it comes,” Neaverth said.

A driving ban remains in effect in Buffalo, which is the last municipality in Erie County with a ban in place. The rest of the county remains under an advisory.

Some highways and major routes reopened Tuesday, including the Thruway, I-290, Route 219, Route 400 and the Niagara County portion of the I-190.

The I-190 remains closed between the Thruway and I-290, NITTEC reported.

Metro Rail service resumed at noon Tuesday with trains leaving every half-hour. Some bus service also is being restored, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority said.

Paratransit service remained suspended on Tuesday, the NFTA said. Service updates will be posted at

Buffalo Niagara International Airport remains closed through at least 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Though the snow has mostly stopped blowing, the Buffalo Niagara region is still reeling from the effects of a blizzard that walloped the area …

Reach Aaron at abesecker[at] or 716-849-4602.

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