As the thaw begins, questions are asked about the authorities’ response to the deadly US storm

Nearly a week after a fierce storm choked off parts of western New York, killing scores and crippling normal life, Buffalo, the state’s second-largest city, is starting to boil over again.

Planes on the runway at Niagara airport are being de-iced and the departure hall is full.

The streets are busy too, after a six-day travel ban finally came to an end, freeing up people to move once again.

But even as temperatures rise and conditions thaw, the emotions are raw.

The confirmed number of deaths in this vicious blizzard now stands at 40 in western New York state alone.

At least a dozen of those who died were found outside, several frozen to death in cars, and more deaths attributed to delays by emergency services.

Many families are still looking for their loved ones and the number of people killed is almost certain to increase.

Questions are also raging as to whether the response by the authorities and emergency services cost them lives, particularly in the poorest part of the city.

“I Feel Like Nobody Cares”

In Buffalo’s Lovejoy neighborhood, where many live from paycheck to paycheck, people have been freezing to death on the streets and in their homes.

Chris Walker was trapped in her one-story house for several days, with the snow so packed by the wind that she couldn’t open her front door.

“It was living hell,” she said. “A real living hell.

“I feel like nobody cares.

“My boyfriend can’t walk and we’ve been asking for help for days: no one came, not even for emergencies.

“The man across the road pulled us out and if it wasn’t for him and his little plow we’d still be stuck inside.

“There’s a lady across the street and she was walking out her front door, crying for someone to help her.”

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‘I feel abandoned’

Two streets away from Ms. Walker’s home, a woman died when her oxygen tank ran out of power because the electricity supply failed and 911 operators told her there was nothing they could do to fix it. help in the blizzard.

“I feel abandoned,” Ms Walker said.

“They don’t care. The carbon monoxide alarms were going off and they didn’t care.”

Mark Poloncarz, the county executive for Erie County, the worst-hit area in western New York, said there were a number of bodies waiting to be identified.

“The Worst Possible News”

Poloncarz accused Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown of being too slow to clear the snow and reopen the city.

She said: “There are families in this community who have not yet been able to identify the whereabouts of a loved one.

“Eventually those family members will find out the worst possible news.”

But Mr Poloncarz has also been criticized, for not instigating a travel ban earlier, before the blizzard hit last week, with many people given just 40 minutes to get home before conditions worsen.

While the post-mortem examinations of the many victims of the storm are being carried out, so is the autopsy on the authorities’ handling of this crisis.

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