Buffalo: Woman dies after blizzard traps her in car
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A 22-year-old woman has become the latest victim to freeze to death while travelling in Buffalo, New York, USA as a “once in a lifetime” storm buries the region in 50 metres of snow. Anndel Taylor spent more than 18 hours trapped inside her car after thick snow prevented her from either moving or escaping her car. The young woman, who was on her way back from work on Friday afternoon, sent her family a final video from inside her car the day before she was discovered dead from what her mother said was carbon monoxide poisoning, rather than hypothermia.
Ms Taylor was one of three people who died in their cars as a result of being trapped by the snow in Buffalo. The total death toll in the region is 35 as a result of the freezing conditions, while the nationwide toll is 70.
In her final video to her family, the young woman said she was stuck in her vehicle and that the snow was coming down thick and fast.
The 16-second video depicted Ms Taylor rolling down her snow-covered window to display the fierce conditions.
Several cars could be seen trapped by the snow as the ferocious winds whip by in the background. The family quickly called 911 following receipt of the video.
Despite her family’s desperate attempts to locate the young woman, her location could not be reached and she was eventually found dead late on Saturday.
The exact date and time of her death is not known but her family believes she died from carbon monoxide poisoning, as opposed to hypothermia, after the snow blocked her exhaust pipe and froze the doors shut.
The 22-year-old’s mother and sister spoke with WCOS in North Carolina about the agony of receiving the terrifying video and the waiting afterwards.
“She was telling my sister that she was scared,” said Shawnequa Brown, Ms Taylor’s sister. “I don’t know if any of us really knew how serious it was, we didn’t see the news, we didn’t really know what was going on in Buffalo.”
Wanda Brown Steele, Taylor’s mother, told WCOS her daughter was planning to sleep out the storm in her vehicle before walking home the next day.
Just hours later, however, Taylor was found dead inside her vehicle. She would have turned 23 in January.
As of Tuesday morning, 35 deaths across Erie County, where Buffalo is located, have been confirmed.
Officials are warning that more bodies could be discovered as more snow is forecast to fall in what the city’s governor called a “once in a lifetime” weather disaster.
Officials described the blizzard, which began on Friday, as “the worst storm probably in our lifetime”, adding that it is “not the end yet”.
“We’ve had so many bodies that various hospitals are full,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. “We’re just having to go through and determine if the individuals have died from a blizzard-related death.”
Late on Monday, Governor Kathy Hochul granted Mr Poloncarz’s calls to declare a statewide state of emergency As of Tuesday, the number of people dead is totaling nearly 70.
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And storm-battered Buffalo is bracing for fresh snow as Mayor Byron Brown’s office announced seven additional storm-related deaths on Tuesday, meaning the toll has surpassed that of the historic Blizzard of 1977, blamed for killing as many as 29 people in a region known for harsh winter weather.
The National Weather Service predicted that as much as 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimetres) more snow could fall on Tuesday in Erie County.
While Tuesday’s forecast was nothing like the massive storm that dropped over 4 feet of snow in some places starting on Friday, “any additional snowfall that Buffalo may continue to have today is going to be impactful,” said lead forecaster Bob Oravec.
President Joe Biden offered federal assistance Monday to New York, while Gov. Kathy Hochul toured the aftermath in Buffalo, her hometown, and called the blizzard “one for the ages.” Almost every fire truck in the city became stranded Saturday, she said.
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