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Death toll for storm rises to seven people

Posted at 6:18 AM, Nov 19, 2014
and last updated 2015-11-14 06:18:55-05

The Lake Effect snowstorm dumping feet of snow on communities in Western New York has claimed a sixth life in Erie County and one in Genesee County.

According to County Executive Mark Poloncarz, four people died because of Tuesday's storm, three from heart attacks, two of which were shoveling snow, and one person who was pinned by a car as he was trying to push it out of snow. An 81-year-old man went into cardiac arrest and an ambulance was unable to reach him.

Authorities say a 46-year-old man was found dead in a car buried in Alden overnight. And on Wednesday, another 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 | More on the death of a man in Genesee County

Cleanup efforts are underway in Erie County, which remains under a State of Emergency with several communities still under a travel ban. Crews have been working throughout the night to free stranded motorists and transport them to shelters as well as clearing clogged roadways.

The State DOT has brought in 160 plows, 350 staff members, eight blowers and 15 highlights to help in cleanup efforts. The National Guard has already been conducting missions in the county, with more members due to arrive Wednesday morning. Four county pieces of equipment became stuck.

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

Officials say their biggest challenge right now is abandoned vehicles - even 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.

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

Crews will be focusing on opening main arteries in communities.

County leaders are asking everyone to check on their neighbors, especially elderly residents.