Morning News Brief
Written by Tom Tharp on December 26, 2022
At least 27 (Updated) people in Western NY died due to the snow over the weekend. Several of them were the result of first responders not being able to get to them because of the storm. Governor Kathy Hochul called the days-long winter storm in the western part of the state a “war with Mother Nature,” and one of the worst blizzards in Buffalo history.
Although the travel bans have been lifted in most of Western NY, I 90 is still closed from the border with Pennsylvania to Henrietta. Drivers were off the roads for nearly the whole weekend with nearly all churches moving their services online for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and most businesses also being closed whether they had planned on taking Christmas off or not. Drivers that attempted to brave the storm were quickly stuck in snow drifts or went off the road due to the ice making the roads slick and the wind making visibility so low it could be measured in inches.
In Genesee County at least 550 people were in warming centers that were opened up in Churches, restaurants, and fire halls. Dozens of individuals and organizations donated to these centers to keep the people there warmed and filled. Some even braved the elements to bring stranded truckers coffee and meals while they waited in their cabs to be able to travel again. Police and Fire personnel worked long and cold hours rescuing people from cars and trucks all across the county. That includes a Batavia City Police MRAP vehicle that dared the elements to rescue 30 stranded motorists in the Oakfield-Alabama area. Members of the Genesee Snowpackers were out with their Snowgroomers rescuing people in the Oakfield and Alabama areas as well. Our news partner the Batavian has chronicled the hour by hour updates of the whole weekend. Check out their write ups to really get a feel for what rescuers were doing.
At least 73 thousand National Grid customers were without power at different times on Saturday and Sunday. Currently, power has been restored throughout Genesee County. There are still isolated outages reported in Erie, Niagara and Orleans Counties with crews working round the clock to restore everyone.
An additional 200 National Guard members will be deploying to Western New York to help with recovery efforts following a devastating storm. Officials expect the double digit numbers of deaths to keep growing in the coming days. Most of the deaths have been in Erie County, which was hard hit by snow and strong winds. Crews are also working to restore power to people who have spent the last few days in the dark. Buffalo Niagara International Airport is also still closed and isn’t expected to reopen until Tuesday.
Gas update: Western NY drivers are still paying less to fill up their vehicles these days as gas prices continue to slide. According to Triple A, the average cost for a gallon of regular fuel is now three-33. That’s down 10 cents from last week and is 30 cents less than this time one month ago. Right now, the state average is three-42 a gallon and nationally it is three-10.
Playing in 9 degrees seems to just make the Bills better. They are the AFC East champions after beating the Bears in Chicago Saturday 35 to 13. They maintain their number 1 playoffs seed position after the win at Soldier Field. This is the Bills 5th straight win this season and third straight AFC East title. On the flip side this was Chicago’s 7th straight loss this season. 8 losses in a row would make a new franchise record. Next up the Bills play the Bengals in Monday Night Football at 8:30 on the 2nd of January. The game is at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.