Potsdam mayor praises emergency response to violent thunderstorm
Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - 12:24 pm

To the Editor:

Tuesday afternoon, July 17, Potsdam witnessed the awesome power of nature. A few minutes later we witnessed the awesome power of community. What a wonderful response we had from our friends and neighbors. The Village of Potsdam was helped by many, many people.

Particular thanks must go to the members of the Potsdam Volunteer Fire Department. They started recovery work immediately, worked through the night, and continued for the next several days. Members of the Canton, West Stockholm, Parishville and Morley fire departments also responded. Our Volunteer Rescue Squad also did great work as usual.

I am proud of the response from our Department of Public Works. They worked smartly and tirelessly. I spoke to one hard-hit resident who said of the DPW staff, “They weren’t just good, they were fantastic.” The same can be said of the performance of our police, and indeed all the village staff. Special thanks to village administrator Dave Fenton and deputy mayor Ron Tischler for manning the command center late into Tuesday night.

St. Lawrence County Fire Police, St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Deputies and NY State Troopers manned intersections until the traffic lights were restored. National Grid, through their local representative Rich Burns, responded quickly and worked diligently to get power back on.

Local NYS Department of Transportation officials, seeing we needed help quickly, sent in tree clearing crews immediately. Hurrah for their spirit of working together in spite of bureaucratic boundaries.

Joe Gilbert and his staff from the St. Lawrence County Emergency Services Office, along with

Chris Taylor from the NYS Fire Prevention Bureau helped from the beginning, and are still on the job.

On Wednesday, the following day, Steven Kuhr and his staff from the NYS Emergency Management Office came to offer help. That same day State Senator Pattie Richie and State Senator Joe Griffo also arrived to help. They were instrumental in getting Governor Cuomo to declare a state of emergency making state funds available.

If you live in Potsdam I have no doubt you spent some time that week helping a neighbor or being helped by a neighbor. How lucky we are to live in the North County. Many thanks to all who helped us in our time of need.

Steve Yurgartis, Mayor of Potsdam