Joe Biden declares state of emergency in New York State due to polar cold snap and ordered federal assistance

Trucks and cars are buried in snow near the Sheridan Drive overpass looking north on Transit Road in Erie County after a snowstorm hit western New York. – Europa Press/Contacto/NYSDOT Western NY

The President of the United States, Joe Biden, has approved this Monday the declaration of emergency in the state of New York due to the polar cold wave that is hitting the eastern part of the country and that has left more than 50 people dead so far.

«Today, President Joe Biden declared that an emergency exists in New York State and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local response efforts due to emergency conditions resulting from a severe winter storm that began on December 23, 2022 and continues,» wields a statement shared by the White House.

The president’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the authority to coordinate all state disaster relief efforts.

These agencies will also be charged with alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency to the local population, as well as providing appropriate assistance for «necessary emergency measures» to save lives and protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe.

«FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide, at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the effects of the emergency,» the letter states, detailing that the assistance will be funded nationally at 75 percent of all costs.

The latest death toll brings the death toll in the wake of the winter storm to 50, while the figure is expected to continue to rise in the coming days.

The highest number of deaths have been reported in New York State, where at least 27 people have been killed by the polar cold snap from Canada. Another 14 have died in Buffalo.

The scope of the storm is unprecedented, affecting parts of the Midwest and eastern United States for the past six days, CBS reports. The storm has caused power outages, canceled flights and made roads and highways hazardous.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said it is the «most devastating» storm in the history of Buffalo, where nearly 100 centimeters of snow has fallen. «I can’t overstate how dangerous conditions remain,» Hochul said, urging residents to stay off the roads for Christmas.