Nearly 4,900 flights cancelled due to winter storm

The National Weather Service predicted that as much as 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) more snow could fall in Erie County, which includes Buffalo and its 275,000 residents…reports Asian Lite News

As a deadly winter storm continues to wreak havoc across the US, nearly 4,900 flights were cancelled, with more than 4,400 others delayed in the last 24 hours, the media reported.

Southwest Airlines was the hardest hit as it cancelled over 60 per cent or 2,500 of its flights on Tuesday.

More than 3,500 flights scheduled to leave Wednesday have already been cancelled, according to flight tracking service FlightAware.

Since the storm began on December 22, nearly 20,000 flights have been cancelled across the US, the service added.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has said that it is “concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays (and) reports of lack of prompt customer service”.

In a tweet on Tuesday, President Joe Biden said that his administration is “working to ensure airlines are held accountable” for disruptions.

He urged passengers to check whether they are entitled to compensation.

Southwest, for its part, has repeatedly apologised and said the disruptions caused by the winter weather are “unacceptable”.

On its website, the airline said that it will honour “reasonable requests” for reimbursement for meals, hotel and alternate transportation for those who have had flights cancelled or delayed between December 24, 2022 and January 2, 2023, the BBC reported.

With flight cancellations and delays continuing, thousands of passengers have been left at airports across the US as they attempt to re-book flights or make alternative travel arrangements.

Passengers in major cities including Washington D.C., Denver and Chicago have reported hours-long queues to speak to customer service representatives.

More than 60 people have so far been reported dead as a result of the winter storm, including at least 28 in Buffalo, New York.

Military police enforce driving ban in Buffalo

State and military police were sent Tuesday to keep people off Buffalo’s snow-choked roads, and officials kept counting fatalities three days after western New York’s deadliest storm in at least two generations.

Even as suburban roads and most major highways in the area reopened, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz warned that police would be stationed at entrances to Buffalo and at major intersections because some drivers were flouting a ban on driving within New York’s second-most populous city.

More than 30 people are reported to have died in the region, officials said, including seven storm-related deaths announced Tuesday by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s office. The toll surpasses that of the historic Blizzard of 1977, blamed for killing as many as 29 people in an area known for harsh winter weather.

Greg Monett turned to social media to beg for help shoveling a 6-foot (1.8-meter) pile of snow from the end of his Buffalo driveway so he could get dialysis treatment Tuesday.

“This has been a nightmare,” he said in an interview Monday. Power had been out for a time at his family’s home, he said, so relatives ran a gas stove to keep warm, a practice he acknowledged was dangerous.

“We had to do what we had to do,” said Monett, 43. “We would have froze to death in here.”

His loved ones called 911 when his blood sugar dipped dangerously low and he nearly passed out Sunday night, but they were told it would take hours to get to the home, Monett said. He eventually recovered on his own.

Officials have said at news briefings that it was impossible to respond to emergency calls at the time.

Monett ultimately made it to dialysis after climbing through the snow and having neighbors help dig out his buried vehicle, sister Maria Monett said.

A Facebook group originally created in 2014, when Buffalo was buried under deep snow, has become a lifeline, seeking to help thousands seeking food, medicine, shelter and rescue in the latest storm. Currently managed by five women, the group swelled to at least 68,000 people as of Tuesday.

“We are seeing a lot of desperation,” said Erin Aquilinia, founder of the original group, in an online interview.

The National Weather Service predicted that as much as 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) more snow could fall Tuesday in Erie County, which includes Buffalo and its 275,000 residents. County Emergency Services Commissioner Dan Neaverth Jr. said officials also were somewhat concerned about possible flooding later in the week when milder weather begins melting the snow.

The rest of the United States also was reeling with at least an additional two dozen storm deaths reported elsewhere around the country, and power outages in communities from Maine to Washington state.

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