Western NY Death Toll Rises from Cold, Storm Chaos: Air Travel Nightmare Continues
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The massive winter storm that's left dozens dead still isn't over. Snow continues to fall in western New York, and canceled flights are holding up passengers still trying to get home after the holidays.
Buffalo, New York, took the hardest blow as the city got just under 50 inches of snow in three days while an arctic blast pummeled the area. Several more inches are expected and President Biden already approved federal aid for the area.
"This has been a very difficult and dangerous storm. It's been described as a once-in-a-generation storm, and everything that has been forecast, we have gotten in the city of Buffalo and then some," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
The dangerous weather claimed at least 29 lives in New York and officials believe the death toll will continue to climb. In some cases, emergency vehicles could not get to victims. Still, more than 500 people were rescued.
Some victims may have died from hypothermia as the snow piled up and left people stranded in their cars and homes. It left family members grieving.
"It's so easy to ask yourself, why God, why, but it's not always meant for us to know the answer to that," said Sylvia Taylor who said her granddaughter was one of the blizzard victims.
Elsewhere around the country, it's been a travel nightmare. Thirty-six hundred flights were canceled Monday, including 70 percent of Southwest Airlines flights.
Travelers wait at a Southwest Airlines baggage counter to retrieve their bags after canceled flights at Los Angeles International Airport, Monday, Dec. 26, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)
Thousands of passengers were stranded nationwide.
"There were four-hour waits. Then they said no one's getting on a Southwest flight for four days," said Phoenix passenger Kara Derek.
The travel trouble is being felt with delays from Houston to Tampa to Raleigh. More flights have already been canceled for Wednesday.
"This one started west swept east and impacted almost every single one of our largest airports that put us in a position where we struggled to recover," said Southwest Spokesperson Jay McVay.
The U.S. Department of Transportation vowed to look into Southwest's troubles after what they said was an "unacceptable" rate of cancellations.
USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service. The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.— TransportationGov (@USDOT) December 27, 2022
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