Monday , January 30 2023

Vietnamese band together to help each other as brutal winter storm hits New York


During the devastating Winter Storm Elliot, which hit New York over the past few days, the Vietnamese community there has joined together to support each other during the crisis.

Khong Trung, a computer engineer living in Buffalo, the second largest city in New York State, said Vietnamese have created Facebook groups to help each other.

“On Facebook groups, many people have been willing to share the key codes to their houses, so that those who are stuck on the street can enter for temporary shelter and food,” Trung said.

Millions of people in the United States were affected by the blizzard, which hit many parts of the country during the Christmas holiday, shutting down electricity and the flow of traffic in many areas.

According to Reuters, Buffalo was hardest hit by the blizzard, which took shape over the Great Lakes last Friday and extended its grip into the Ohio and Upper Mississippi valleys and mountains of Appalachia. In and around Buffalo, up to 52 inches of snow fell over four days, and a bit more was expected by Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Pharmacies were forced to close due to the blizzard and people who have been in urgent need of medicine, such as insulin, had to call for help.

“Many people who have medicine available were ready to share it with the ones who needed it more amid this challenging situation,” Trung said. “If they can’t go outside, people with specialized snowmobiles will come and pick them up and bring the medicine to people in need.”

Millions of people in the United States were affected by the blizzard, which hit many parts of the country during the Christmas holiday, shutting down electricity and the flow of traffic in many areas.

According to Reuters, Buffalo, the second largest city in New York State, was hardest hit by the blizzard, which took shape over the Great Lakes last Friday and extended its grip into the Ohio and Upper Mississippi valleys and mountains of Appalachia. In and around Buffalo, up to 52 inches of snow fell over four days, and a bit more was expected by Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

For the many Vietnamese who live in Buffalo, this Christmas was a memorable holiday. Vu Nguyen, 47, owner of the Pho Latern restaurant in Buffalo, said that all activities were shut down during the blizzard, severely affecting businesses.

“In 31 years living in the U.S., I have never seen such a big winter storm,” Vu told VnExpress. “This is the first time that the church here was not opened on Christmas Eve or Sunday.”

Nguyen Huu Quang Minh, a creative producer based in New York, said that when Storm Elliott arrived, the rain turned into a blizzard almost immediately and the temperature dropped to -13 degrees Celsius in just two hours.

Nationwide, at least 60 people died in weather-related incidents in recent days, NBC News reported on Tuesday. New York Governor Kathy Hochul called it an “epic, once-in-a-lifetime” weather disaster and the worst blizzard to hit the Buffalo area in 45 years. On Sunday morning, the streets were covered by thick layers of snow, with some areas blanketed with nearly 2 m of snow that buried many vehicles.

The NWS estimates that about 60% of Americans are affected by Storm Elliott. Earlier, Poweroutage, a project to monitor electricity conditions in the United States, said that on December 24, nearly 1.7 million people were without electricity amid the severe cold.

Ly Uyen, Trung’s wife, who works at a hospital in Buffalo, said she was scared when she witnessed the scene of cars with dead engines scattered on the road after leaving work, a day after Christmas Eve.

“In over three decades living in Buffalo, I have never seen the Wegman Food Market near my home closed for more than a day, but now it has been closed for four days due to the blizzard,” Uyen said. “There is no entrance to pharmacies and markets because the snow had been stacked up too high.”

“Due to power shortages, some families had to turn on gas stoves to heat up their houses, but were afraid of carbon monoxide poisoning, so they took turns staying awake,” Uyen said. “My family also had to go through the thick snow to clear out the exhaust pipe on the side of the house, to avoid inhaling toxic gas.”

Trung said the couple’s neighbor is an old woman who usually shovels snow by herself, but due to the thick snow, people came to help her.

“It’s cold outside, but the way people treat each other is still warm,” he said.

Trung’s family had earlier filled up the gas tanks of its cars, snow excavator, and generators, while batteries for electronic devices were also fully charged. The family stored enough food for a few days.

A man walks the street as cars pass by during a winter storm that hit the Buffalo region, in Amherst, New York, US, December 26, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Brendan McDermid

A man walks the street as cars pass by during a winter storm that hit the Buffalo region, in Amherst, New York, US, December 26, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Brendan McDermid

The situation is expected to change dramatically. The NWS forecast a rapid thaw later this week, with spring-like temperatures well above freezing and well above normal, accompanied by rain that could unleash flooding.

Electricity and heating has been restored across the United States. Poweroutage said that by December 26, only about 100,000 customers still without electricity. Power PJM Interconnection said the company can meet people’s supplier electricity needs, even during peak hours.

“My wife and I have experienced many blizzards in our lives, but this is a once in a generation storm,” Uyen said. “However, the U.S. has handled the blizzard very well, and the rhythm of life will return in the next few days.”

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