Death toll in Lake Effect storms rises to 10

Posted at 6:07 AM, Nov 20, 2014
and last updated 2015-11-14 06:18:56-05

Ten people have died from the Lake Effect snowstorm that has dumped feet of snow on communities in Western New York.

Four people died on Tuesday, three from heart attacks, two of which were shoveling snow and an 81-year-old man went into cardiac arrest and an ambulance was unable to reach him. A fourth person died when he was pinned by a car as he was trying to push it out of snow.

MORE | More on the death of a man in Genesee County

Sometime overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, a 46-year-old man died in Alden. Donald Abate of Blasdell  was found by first responders inside his car on Broadway Avenue, which had been buried underneath feet of snow. His cause of death remains under investigation pending an autopsy.

On Wednesday, an elderly man died after he was unable to be transported to the hospital. Officials say he had a cardiac condition and was in need of urgent assistance but the roads were impassable.

MORE | Roof collapse has become a fear as accumulations mount. A warehouse in Cheektowaga, a home in Buffalo, and several mobile homes in Cheektowaga and West Seneca have had their roofs collapse

Thursday morning, Erie County officials reported an eighth person had died. A man in his 60s went into cardiac arrest while attempting to move a snowplow out of a shed. Later that afternoon, the Erie County Health Commissioner announced two more deaths, one in Niagara County and one in the Town of Boston, due to exposure.

County leaders are asking everyone to check on their neighbors, especially elderly residents. Also be sure furnace vents are clear of snow to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Cleanup efforts continue in Erie County, which remains under a State of Emergency with several communities still under a travel ban.

MORE | Current list of travel bans, advisories and road closures

Officials say their biggest challenge right now is abandoned vehicles, including new vehicles left behind when citizens venture out into areas where a travel ban remains in effect. Residents are reminded to obey all travel advisories and bans.

Officials say they estimate there are hundreds - if not thousands - of cars abandoned on main roads and secondary routes, hampering efforts to clear snow from the area.

The National Weather Service says a year's worth of snow is expected in just a few days over the hardest hit areas. The storm is expected to dump another two to three feet of snow on the same communities on Thursday.