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Nat’l Guard going door-to-door looking for bodies in NY snowstorm

Soldiers gather with observer-controllers after completing a real-life rescue training event with squad unit support vehicles to conduct an after-action review, Jan. 28, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Manda Walters/Released)
December 28, 2022

National Guard troops are going door-to-door looking for “individuals who may have perished” in western New York amid a snowstorm that officials say has already killed dozens.

Troops will search over the next 48 hours around Erie County, home to New York’s second most-populous city, Buffalo, County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Wednesday morning.

“This is going to happen in the city and the suburbs,” Poloncarz said. “Any place that lost power, the National Guard is going to come to help.”

Buffalo took the brunt of a massive winter storm that engulfed a large part of the U.S. ahead of Christmas. Thirty-four deaths have been reported so far in Erie County, where some areas are covered in over four feet of snow, according to Accuweather.

When the death toll was 31, NPR reported that 17 dead bodies had been found outside, seven people died from lack of heat, three died from heart problems while shoveling, three died inside a vehicle, and one died from delayed medical services.

“This is an epic, statewide hazard,” Gov. Kathy Hochul has said of the storm. “There’s no other way to describe this than, this is having an impact everywhere.”

The New York National Guard activated 460 soldiers and airmen to help respond to the storm on Tuesday, according to a press release. About 100 more troops were set to be mobilized Tuesday.

In Buffalo, National Guard soldiers helped clear snow at important locations and transported people to and from hospitals. They rescued at least 86 people from dangerous situations, and got a woman to a hospital just before she gave birth, according to the release.

Driving has been prohibited in Buffalo for five days – the last remnant of a ban that initially covered the entire county. Poloncarz has tweeted about 40 times to remind people about the ban.

After deleting a tweet that said “100 military police” would help enforce the ban, Poloncarz clarified that the National Guard is not ticketing drivers.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.