One local family with young children – aged two to six – had to wait for 11 hours before being rescued in the early hours of Christmas Day (Sunday).
“I was basically just hopeless,” the father, Zila Santiago, told CBS News. He said he had managed to stay warm by keeping the engine running and kept distress at bay by playing games with the children.
More victims are expected to be discovered once melting snowdrifts reveal trapped vehicles and allow access to remote homes.
The “bomb cyclone” winter storm – which occurs when atmospheric pressure plummets, causing heavy snow and winds – has disrupted travel across the US.
Forecasters say it will ease off in the next few days, but the advice remains to avoid travelling unless essential.
Over the weekend an estimated 250,000 homes and businesses experienced blackouts – although power has been steadily restored.
Storm-related deaths were also reported in Vermont, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Colorado. South Florida’s temperatures dropped so low, that iguanas froze and fell from trees.
The western US state of Montana was the worst hit by the cold, with temperatures dropping to -50F (-45C).
In Canada, the central province of Ontario and Quebec, in the north-east, bore the brunt of the storm.
Ontario’s Prince Edward County, along Lake Ontario, declared a state of emergency and had to take snow ploughs off the streets because they were in danger of getting stuck, Mayor Steve Ferguson told CBC News.