Mr. Poloncarz acknowledged the controversy Wednesday on Twitter. “As I said earlier today in response to whether the driving ban should have been instituted earlier, I don’t know if it would have changed anything, but it was my decision and I take full responsibility,” he wrote. “As JFK said, ‘Success has a hundred fathers, but failure is an orphan.’ “
Of those who died in the storm, more than a dozen were found outdoors. Other deaths were attributed to delays by emergency personnel. Some people froze in their homes. Some died in their cars. Many people have had heart attacks while trying to shovel or use snowblowers. Officials said they expect the death toll to rise as more victims are identified.
Hundreds of National Guard troops were deployed across the region on Wednesday. Officials said their work has largely shifted from rescue operations to inspections of homes that have lost power and the massive project of clearing snow from streets.
As temperatures rose, four-man crews in about 25 Humvee vehicles checked some of the hundreds of homes without power, officials said. Soldiers armed with shovels helped ease access for utility companies repairing downed lines.
“Anywhere that doesn’t have authority, we send people to check them,” said Eric Durr, director of public affairs for the New York State Department of Military and Naval Affairs.
About 14 green and brown Humvees, as well as large supply and security trucks, were lined up outside the Connecticut Street Armory north of downtown Buffalo. Downtown streets were largely cleared, with massive piles of snow pushed to the side of the roads.
Forces of front loaders, sometimes followed by state police vehicles, made significant progress in residential areas from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Shortly before midnight Tuesday, as dozens of residents stood outside their homes cheering, shovels in hand, a lone truck rolled down a side street, pushing and clearing snow piles to the side of the road, opening a single lane. They dug out their vehicles, which had been stuck in the snow for almost five days.