With 7,300 St. Lawrence County customers without power, National Grid urges caution around downed wires, trees
Sunday, December 22, 2013 - 4:59 pm

This long row of trucks from Lewis Tree Service of West Henrietta lined Maple Street in Potsdam Sunday afternoonThis long row of trucks from Lewis Tree Service of West Henrietta lined Maple Street in Potsdam Sunday afternoon

National Grid is cautioning customers to be extremely careful around downed wires, limbs, trees and broken poles as more than 7,300 St. Lawrence County customers were reported without power shortly before 5 p.m..

Significant overnight ice build-up in the St. Lawrence County and Black River areas has resulted in extensive tree and equipment damage across both areas, National Grid officials said. Some customers, particularly those in remote areas, may be without power for several days, National Grid officials said.

Estimates are that more than 70,000 customers throughout the National Grid upstate New York had power interrupted at various points beginning late last night and into the morning. In St. Lawrence County, communities with the largest number of power outages late this afternoon included Canton, Hammond, Fowler, Morristown, Pitcairn, Russell and Rossie.

As of 2:30 p.m. the company is reporting that service has been restored to more than 17,000 customers throughout the upstate New York area.

Service restoration estimates for the remaining customers are being developed, but the company is expecting that some, especially those in the hardest hit and most remote areas, will be out of service tonight and into the beginning days of the week.

A force of more than 2,000 electric line, forestry, survey and other field workers has been deployed throughout both areas to clear hazards and restore services, many of whom were pre-positioned in advance of the weather based on forecasts. The company is calling in additional National Grid and mutual aid crews, particularly to Western New York where ice accumulation and resulting damage was far greater than weather forecasts had predicted.

National Grid’s Central and Western New York work force is being aided by other National Grid crews from Eastern New York, Long Island and New England, along with contractors and other mutual aid crews. Field forces are supported by hundreds of additional logistics personnel in offices through the regions.

“We were well prepared and have a very large and highly skilled workforce on the ground in the hardest hit regions. We are making excellent progress, to be sure, but the level of damage is quite severe and extremely widespread,” said Kenneth Daly, President, National Grid New York. “We are completing damage assessments and have developed plans that will allow us to systematically and safely address these issues. We are focused on restoring power to every impacted customer and we are pressing as quickly as can to make that happen.”

With so much damage, the company is offering extra caution about safety around down wires and anything that may be touching wires. In extremely wet conditions, almost anything can be a conductor of electricity so the company is urging the public to stay clear of any downed wire and to contact National Grid to address the issue and make it safe before attempting to clear away tree debris.