U.S. slowly emerging from storm: This is the biggest disturbance I've ever seen

Eva Deschamps / December 29, 2022

The United States was slowly emerging Wednesday from a historic storm that killed at least 56 people, but its impact was still being felt in the Buffalo area and at airports, with hundreds of thousands of passengers having their flights cancelled.
Heavy snowfall, bitterly cold winds, a sharp drop in temperature... Even in areas accustomed to harsh winters, the bad weather took its toll, to the point that rescue crews sometimes found themselves stranded.
Erie County in New York State, where the city of Buffalo is located near the border with Canada, alone has at least 34 of the 56 storm-related deaths in the country, according to a new report Wednesday.
People were found dead in their cars or in the street, some after waiting to be rescued for hours.
The cold was felt to varying degrees in much of the country, even in Texas and Florida, unaccustomed to such weather conditions.
These were improving on Wednesday, with temperatures rising.
That doesn't mean the public is out of danger, officials said.
"As temperatures warm up, we expect the snow to melt and possible flooding from rapid melting," warned Mark Poloncarz, an Erie County official.
The driving ban remained in effect Wednesday in Buffalo. And the National Guard will be going door-to-door in areas where power has not yet been restored, to make sure residents are safe, the official tweeted.
In the airports, especially in Denver, Chicago and Baltimore, disruptions remained. The reason: the serial flight cancellations around the Christmas weekend.
But while the pace of most airlines was back to normal, one, Southwest Airlines, was still dealing with the service debacle of the past few days. Of the nearly 2,800 flights canceled Wednesday morning, more than 2,500 were operated by Southwest, according to FlightAware.
On Tuesday night, its CEO Bob Jordan apologized in a video message.
"We are doing everything we can to get back to normal [...]. I'm very sorry," he said.  
On CNN, the vice-president of the Southwest Pilots Association, Mike Santoro, expressed his frustration, explaining in particular that the company has long suffered from a computer system "largely outdated", making the organization of flights complicated.
On Wednesday morning, hundreds of suitcases were still piled up at BWI airport in Baltimore, Maryland, waiting to be returned to their owners, according to an AFP reporter.
Donald Sneyder, a Southwest customer, was in line with about 40 other people in front of the airline's baggage claim.
I had a flight on Sunday to Indianapolis but it was canceled and my bags had already been checked," he explained.
"I didn't try to get here earlier this week, it looked like a mess. But I hope to get my luggage back today," he added.
Other people were trying to locate their luggage with the help of airline staff, amid hundreds of bags and suitcases lined up, sorted by flight.
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