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Winter Storm Death Toll Tops 31 in Buffalo as Southwest Airlines Chaos Upends Travel Across U.S.

HeadlineDec 28, 2022

In Buffalo, New York, the death toll from this weekend’s historic blizzard climbed to at least 31, with nationwide fatalities surpassing 60 people. State and military police were deployed to Buffalo Tuesday to enforce the city’s driving ban as road conditions remain treacherous. Erie County chief executive Mark Poloncarz pleaded with residents to stay off the roads.

Mark Poloncarz: “There’s a lot of roads that are completely blocked right now that have no access whatsoever, and people are trying to drive in on these roads or trying to get into these neighborhoods, and they can’t. Please, please — you heard the mayor beg, I’m begging — stay home.”

Meanwhile, the air travel chaos caused by the Christmas snowstorm has left thousands stuck at airports around the country. The Transportation Department said it will investigate flight cancellations and delays by Southwest Airlines, which has canceled around two-thirds of its flights since the storm. This is a Southwest passenger at Los Angeles International Airport.

LaKesia Barrett: “I was on the phone for like four hours on hold, no answer. So, we woke up this morning. I said, ’Let’s just come to the airport to see what’s going on.’ So, clearly, the flights are canceled, canceled, canceled and more canceled. … These amazing people that have come to work, they don’t deserve our frustration of having to get home.”

Southwest employees and union members say the company had ignored warnings its software is out of date and unable to handle such disruptions. Ninety percent of the cancellations were Southwest.

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