Governor Andrew Cuomo today declared a state of emergency for St. Lawrence County in the wake of severe thunderstorms in the North Country earlier this week.
The announcement said the declaration will allow New York State to better coordinate and respond with local governments to the widespread damage caused by the storms.
On Tuesday, severe thunderstorms with winds in excess of 70 miles per hour, hail over one inch in diameter, and extremely heavy rainfall hit St. Lawrence County and surrounding areas. The storms caused widespread power outages, damage to homes, apartments, businesses, public and private property, and damaged and downed thousands of trees.
State Senators Joe Griffo, whose district includes Potsdam, the most severely hit community in the county, and Patty Ritchie, who represents the western half of the county, both came to Potsdam yesterday to view the damage and get briefings from local and state officials who had gathered in the meeting room above the firehouse.
Griffo said during his afternoon visit that he had briefed the governor that morning during a bill signing in Utica.
“With the serious damage in St. Lawrence County and the surrounding area as a result of the severe thunderstorms, the state of emergency declaration will help us deploy vital resources to affected areas and get assistance to those in need,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York State will continue to deploy whatever resources are necessary and do whatever is needed to protect New Yorkers in the North Country and ensure an effective and timely recovery.”
Such a state of emergency enables New York to mobilize state resources to assist local governments more effectively and quickly, and if necessary, gives the governor the authority to suspend statutes, rules and regulations that would impede response and recovery activities. The declaration further gives the governor the ability to direct state resources to local governments in need. The declaration applies to St. Lawrence County and contiguous areas.
State Department of Transportation equipment and workers were on the scene helping with the cleanup.
Sen. Griffo said today, “We appreciate Governor Cuomo’s attentiveness, concern and responsiveness to the people of Potsdam and St. Lawrence County. After visiting and seeing the damage firsthand, I commend the rapid and effective state agencies’ response, particularly the leadership and coordination of the State Emergency Management Office in support of the North Country’s outstanding first responders.”
Assembly Member Addie Russell said, “I commend St. Lawrence County and New York State emergency management officials for their quick response to Tuesday’s devastating storm. I also thank Governor Cuomo for making the emergency declaration which makes available state resources for recovery. It is my hope that residents will be able to repair their homes and businesses quickly through this assistance.”