New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said she deployed the National Guard to Erie County last night to assist with medical emergencies amid dangerous winter conditions in Buffalo and the region.
“The conditions, the blinding snow, the zero visibility, absolute whiteouts, it may go down as one of the worst in history,” Hochul said in a news conference, as she noted that Buffalo is her hometown. “People are comparing this to the dreaded blizzard of ’77 where Buffalo first got its reputation for having an unprecedented amount of snow.”
“It is life-threatening, what is going on as we speak in Buffalo,” Hochul added.
At least two people died Friday night in Erie County, in separate incidents, when emergency medical personnel could not get to their homes in time for medical emergencies, county officials said.
“The loss of two lives in Buffalo — storm related — because people were not able to get to medical attention, is again a crisis situation that unfolds before your eyes and you realize that life-saving ambulances and emergency medical personnel cannot get to people during a blizzard situation,” Hochul.
Hochul said first responders have been attempting to rescue stranded motorists on highways, but that they too “are all getting stuck in the snow as well.”
“In fact, almost every fire truck in the city of Buffalo is stranded. It is stuck in snow and we are just getting through releasing about 14 or so ambulances that were stuck as well.” she said. “So you can imagine what’s going on here. People who need help are being trapped because they cannot get the emergency response because it’s unsafe to be out there.”
The Buffalo airport will remain closed until at least 11 a.m. local time on Monday, Hochul said. The airport first announced it had closed due to “hazardous weather conditions” Friday afternoon.
Hochul said search and rescue operations will continue nonetheless throughout the region.
The governor said about 73,000 homes across the state are still without power, including 33,000 in Erie County. “That seems to be the epicenter of this storm that doesn’t seem to be moving on,” Hochul said.
The governor said the state will keep warming centers open and she encouraged people to stay home.
CNN’s Celina Tebor contributed reporting to this post.