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More than two dozen people in Buffalo are dead after a massive winter storm

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

At least 35 people are dead in western New York after a winter storm walloped the region with deep snow and bitter cold. Forecasters say things are getting better, but troubles remain. From member station WBFO in Buffalo, Dave Debo reports.

DAVE DEBO, BYLINE: New York State Governor Kathy Hochul grew up outside Buffalo, seeing storms often.

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KATHY HOCHUL: And I'm a Buffalonian. And all of us think in historic and epic terms, but this one is for the ages.

DEBO: At its worst, beginning Friday, over 100,000 without power, 4 feet of snow in some spots, winds whipping up whiteouts, emergency crews basically giving up, admitting there were some calls that they just couldn't get to. And people hunkered down in their homes until, well, today actually, when some roads were clear, according to Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz.

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MARK POLONCARZ: While downtown is actually OK, immediately out of downtown, it's bad.

DEBO: Driving bans have been lifted outside the city of Buffalo, but roads in the city are still a major challenge, especially for emergency personnel. In some cases, vehicles like bulldozers have followed ambulances until the snow drifts get too high, and then those vehicles with tracks instead of tires have taken EMTs on the last leg to people in distress. As roads clear today, most people are staying off them - except that one driver that Poloncarz saw in a Camaro.

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POLONCARZ: That's a great vehicle for the summer. It is not the vehicle to be driving in slippery, bad conditions in winter.

DEBO: Perhaps that driver was dreaming of the snow melt. National Weather Service meteorologist Kirk Apfel says it is coming.

KIRK APFEL: We are looking at a warm-up. We're going to just get a little warmer every day going through the end of the week. And by Friday through New Year's Day, we'll have highs up in the lower 50s.

DEBO: But he does expect some minor flooding - wet basements this weekend.

For NPR News, I'm Dave Debo in Buffalo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Dave Debo's journalism career runs the gamut from public radio to commercial radio, from digital projects to newspapers. With over 30 years of experience, he's produced national television news programs and has worked as both a daily and weekly print journalist and web editor.