Potsdam declares state of emergency, bans unnecessary travel; sheriff urges all county motorists to use caution due to storm damage
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 6:02 pm

Updated at 7 p.m.

POTSDAM -- The village and town of Potsdam have declared a State of Emergency and banned unnecessary travel due to damage from this afternoon's major thunderstorm.

The state of emergency was issued by Deputy Village Mayor Reinhold Tischler and Town Supervisor Marie Regan for five days or until rescinded due to hazardous conditions from downed power lines and trees as well as structural damage to some buildings.

Village Administrator David Fenton said residents are asked to stay away from downed trees and power lines and to report hazards to the police department at 265-2121.

The St. Lawrence County Office of Emergency Services and sheriff's office are also asking all county residents to be alert for trees in the road, power lines down, flooded roads and basements and other damage that may cause safety factors for everyone.

The line of thunderstorms has not only caused electrical outages but also structural damage to buildings, officials said.

“Please drive with care, be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution as emergency response personnel, highway and DPW crews and Utility Companies are out doing their jobs,” said Sheriff Kevin M. Wells. “Emergency Services Dispatch is handling a large volume of calls and everyone is reminded that 911 is for emergency calls and other calls can go through regular lines.”

In Potsdam, officials have issued a No Unnecessary Travel order as part of this State of Emergency.

Travel in the Village of Potsdam is being restricted to emergency personnel and utility companies only.

This order comes from the Office of Emergency Services and the Village of Potsdam Officials.

This is as a result of the damage caused by this afternoon’s thunderstorm.

"Please do not travel into the Village of Potsdam until further notice. When the travel restriction is lifted another release will be sent," said Wells.

SUNY Potsdam cencelled all evening classes and urged faculty, staff, students and guests to delay travel and proceed with extreme caution due to power lines down, blowing debris and unpredictable road conditions near campus.

Clarkson University's downtown campus sustained significant property damage and all of our facilities and security personnel are responding, officials said. All staff, campers and students were reported safe. The university was posting storm updates on their home page at www.clarkson.edu.