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Looters Ransack Stores As Deadly Blizzard Buries Buffalo

Buffalo, NY – Throngs of looters ransacked stores and destroyed businesses as they tore through the Buffalo area in the midst of a massive winter storm over the weekend (videos below).

“People who are out looting when people are losing their lives in this harsh winter storm are absolutely reprehensible,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said during a joint news conference with New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on Monday afternoon, according to The Buffalo News.

“I don’t know how these people can even live with themselves, how they can look at themselves in the mirror,” Brown added. “They are the lowest of the low.”

Footage of ransacked stores and demolished businesses have been shared widely on social media.

“They’re not looting food and medicines – they’re just looting items that they want,” the mayor said, according to WGRZ. “These aren’t even people in distress. These are people that are taking advantage of a natural disaster.”

Officials have described the deadly blizzard as a “once in a generation” winter storm that brought much of the area to a grinding halt over the Christmas holiday weekend, WIVB reported.

In addition to impassible roads snarled with hundreds of abandoned vehicles, the blizzard knocked out power for a huge portion of residents, according to CNN.

More than 25 people in western New York lost their lives in the winter weather, Poloncarz said.

“We do expect there will be more,” he added.

Police have been going car-to-car and house-to-house, checking to make sure people aren’t in need of help, CNN reported.

“In some of these circumstances, some of these people might not have survived if it weren’t for the efforts of first responders to rescue them from vehicles,” Brown noted.

“I’m heartbroken about the deaths,” Poloncarz told The Buffalo News. “Just absolutely devastated to see that many deaths and then to find out that there’s looting going on in our community at the same time we’re still recovering bodies is just horrible.”

More than 43 inches of snow and ice fell on the Buffalo area over the weekend, accompanied by high winds and frigid temperatures, Newsweek reported.

Another foot of snow was forecasted to fall by mid-week.

Travel bans were implemented in some areas and crews were working to clear snow from various routes to make roads passable for first responders, WIVB reported.

Hochul warned that the National Guard would be stopping drivers who attempt to travel through areas where the travel bans were in effect and that violators would be cited.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said police have been investigating the reports of looting at locations throughout the city and that they were still unsure how may businesses had been targeted as of Monday, according to WGRZ.

“We have made a few arrests,” Commissioner Gramaglia confirmed.

He said officers also helped to board up at least one store after looters busted out the windows and ransacked the building, WGRZ reported.

More than a dozen gas stations were rendered inoperable by looters, Erie County Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Daniel Neaverth told The Buffalo News.

“This is a drastic implication for us that we now have to deal with to find alternate fuel sources,” Neaverth explained. “So that ambulance that is maybe just going to go a block to refuel now has to go to a facility sometimes outside of the city of Buffalo to be refueled.”

Other looted businesses include Rick’s Sports Apparel near Elmwood Avenue and Allen Street, a Family Dollar on Genesee Street, the Broadway Market, and Rent to Own, among others, WGRZ reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin

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