Roofs began to creak and collapse under the weight as another storm Thursday added to epic snowfall in western New York state.
The three-day snowfall total reached 6 feet (1.8 meters) or more in the Buffalo area. Some areas received close to 2 feet (0.6 meters) of new snow by Thursday afternoon.
The storm was blamed for up to eight deaths in western New York. Five of them died of heart attacks, including three while shoveling snow. Erie County officials announced the latest death on Thursday, that of a man in his 60s who had a heart attack while operating a snowblower.
The wild card was an expected weekend warmup with rain – raising the specter of flooding and yet more weight pressing down on roofs, where the snow could absorb the rain like a blanket.
Roof collapses were reported around the region, including cave-ins that prompted the evacuation of 15 to 20 people Thursday from a suburban Buffalo mobile home park.
Homeowners and store employees climbed onto roofs to shovel off the snow and reduce the danger.
The immediate concern Thursday was recovering from the 5 feet (1.5 meters) or more of snow that fell earlier in the week. National Guardsmen drove nurses to work their hospital shifts. State troopers helped elderly residents trapped in their homes. State officials assembled 463 plows, 129 loaders, 40 dump trucks from across the state.
Some Buffalo-area schools were closed for the third consecutive day.
A stretch of the New York State Thruway through western New York remained closed with more than 300 truckers idled at truck stops and service areas, waiting for the highway to reopen.
With deliveries interrupted, some stores reported running low on staples like bread and milk.
Officials also cast doubt on whether the region would recover enough for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills to host the New York Jets on Sunday. The seats and field of the Bills’ home stadium south of Buffalo were buried in snow.
(Associated Press writer Michael Hill and Mary Esch contributed from Albany.)
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