At least 18 people has been confirmed dead while hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the United States are without power due to a fierce winter storm.
The 18 deaths are reportedly to have been caused by exposure to the cold and car crashes on icy roads.
The storm, which is one of the most powerful in decades had forced the cancellation of more than 3,000 US flights on Saturday, stranding thousands of travelers on Christmas eve.
The storm which has been running for a few days stretched from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande along the Mexican border.
The cold temperatures put severe strain on the power systems across the US due to an increased demand for eat and storm-related damage to transmission lines.
According to tracking site Poweroutage.us, at least 300,000 homes and businesses were without power as of Saturday evening, a sharp drop from 1.8 million customers who were without power earlier in the day.
Across the country, officials attributed at least 18 deaths to the effects of the storm, including two people who died in their homes outside the city of Buffalo in New York state when emergency crews could not reach them amid historic blizzard conditions.
Th city of Buffalo has seen its ambulances take over three hours to make one trip to the hospital, in areas where a vehicle could get through the snow.
To assist with life-threatening rescues, the National Guard was being sent “right into the city of Buffalo.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul meanwhile said almost every fire truck in Buffalo was stranded due to the snow. “No matter how many emergency vehicles we have, they cannot get through the conditions as we speak,” she said.
Other storm-related death include;
- four people killed in the state of Ohio on Friday during a pileup involving some 50 vehicles.
- a driver was killed on Thursday after skidding into a creek in Missouri.
- three people died on Wednesday in separate car crashes on icy roads in Kansas.
- three deaths were reported in Kentucky.
The severe weather also forced the cancellations of some 3,411 flights within, into or out of the US on Saturday, according to the tracking site FlightAware.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur