State advising caution as wind storm hits North Country

Posted 4/4/18

New York State today urged residents to take proper precautions to protect against the ongoing storm that is expected to bring damaging winds and widespread rain to many areas of Upstate New York …

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State advising caution as wind storm hits North Country


New York State today urged residents to take proper precautions to protect against the ongoing storm that is expected to bring damaging winds and widespread rain to many areas of Upstate New York through this evening.

As of 2 p.m., about 1,000 residences in St. Lawrence County were reporting power outages in the midst of the high wind event.

Ahead of the storm, New York's utilities added 400 line, tree and service workers to their existing base of 4,200 workers through the mutual aid process, said a press release issued by the governor’s office.

Crews are being moved to the areas forecasted to have the highest winds and stand ready to assist with restoration efforts, as needed. Additionally, high profile vehicles in Upstate New York should use extreme caution on roadways as the strong winds will make travel difficult throughout Wednesday and into Thursday.

Areas along Lakes Erie and Ontario are forecast to see a prolonged periods of damaging winds for the remainder of the day into this evening with sustained winds from 25 mph to 45 mph and gusts up to 65 to 75 mph. Recreational boaters should remain in port or take shelter until winds and waves subside.

The National Weather Service has issued High Wind Warnings and Watches for most of upstate New York including the Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, North Country, Capital Region, and Mid-Hudson Regions through tonight. In the North Country, steady rain with occasional thunder, combined with warmer temperatures could melt the snowpack, which could cause minor flooding. Lake Shore Flood Warnings are also in effect for counties along the eastern shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario. For a current listing of weather watches, warnings, and advisories from the National Weather Service, click here.

State Agency Preparations

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has been in contact with Emergency Managers in the affected regions and the State's Watch Center is monitoring for any potential impacts around the clock.

The State's 10 regional stockpiles are fully prepared and assets are ready to deploy including:

711 generators

261 light towers

1,296 pumps

18 sandbaggers

Almost 1,000,000 sandbags

Over 7,000 feet of Aqua Dam temporary dam

Over 56,000 ready to eat meals

Over 430,000 cans and bottles of water

Thousands of cots, blankets and pillows

At the Governor's direction the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has also been actively initiating a number of measures to mitigate any flooding that may occur near Lake Ontario in 2018. Specifically, the Division has already begun to deploy nearly 250,000 sandbags, sandbagging equipment, Aqua Dams, and other response assets to ensure that the counties and towns have the support and resources they need ahead of any future flooding.

New York's utilities have added 400 line, tree and service workers to their existing base of 4,200 workers for restoration efforts, if needed. Crews are being moved to the areas that are expected to have the greatest storm impact from the high winds. Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the storm event.

The Department of Public Service has extended Call Center Helpline hours starting Wednesday, April 4, until 7:30 p.m., as needed, to assist consumers in their storm restoration efforts. The Department of Public Service Call Center Helpline can be reached by calling 1-800-342-3377.

New Yorkers also are encouraged to sign up for NY Alert at https://users.nyalert.gov to get immediate alerts on weather, emergency road closures.

The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond to any storm impacts with 70 excavators, four bulldozers, 15 graders, 15 vacuum trucks with sewer jets, 12 water pumps, 1560 large dump trucks, 324 large loaders, 15 tree crew bucket trucks, 78 chippers, 54 traffic signal trucks, and 13 water tankers.

In addition, the Department has Variable Message Signs up on state roads through tonight in Western New York, the Finger Lakes Region, Central New York and the North Country, warning motorists of high winds.

The Department of Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas likely to be impacted by the storm. All available assets, including snowmobiles, 16 boats, and utility vehicles, are ready to assist with any emergency response.

Prepare for Power Outages

The state urges residents to stay away from any lines that are down as they may be live, and should be considered extremely dangerous. Motorists are reminded that State Law mandates that if an intersection is "blacked out" and the traffic signal is not operational, the intersection is automatically a "four way" stop. In the event of closed or blocked roadways due to flooding, downed power lines or debris, motorists are advised to exercise caution and obey all traffic signs or barricades in place, regardless of whether a roadway looks clear.

New Yorkers should also check on friends, family and neighbors, especially the elderly. Power outages can affect the ability of individuals to heat their homes, which could lead to dangerously cold temperatures in the winter months.

A press release from the governor’s office offers these additional safety tips:

At home or at work, keep a battery-operated radio and flashlight on hand, as well as a supply of batteries. Keep an emergency supply of water, medications, and non-perishable foods handy. If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem - check with your physician or pharmacist.

Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power. Charge cell phones and any battery-powered devices.

If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving an inch of space inside each one -- this will help keep food cold if the power goes out.

If You Lose Power

Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage and listen to local broadcasts for official information. For a list of utilities, visit the New York State Department of Public Service. Check to see if your neighbors have power. Check on people with access or functional needs.

Use only flashlights for emergency lighting -- candles pose the risk of fire.

Keep refrigerators and freezer doors closed -- most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.

Do not use a charcoal grill indoors and do not use a gas stove for heat -- they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide.

In cold weather, stay warm by dressing in layers and minimizing time spent outdoors. Be aware of cold stress symptoms (i.e., hypothermia) and seek proper medical attention if symptoms appear.

After a Power Outage

Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees (4°C) for two or more hours, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. Remember: "When in doubt, throw it out."

If food in the freezer is colder than 40 degrees and has ice crystals on it, it can be re-frozen.

If you are concerned about medications having spoiled, contact your doctor.

Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods and other supplies.

Flood Safety Tips

Learn the safest route from your home or business to high, safe ground should you have to leave in a hurry.

Develop and practice a “family escape” plan and identify a meeting place if family members become separated.

Make an itemized list -- as well as potentially photo and video documentation -- of all valuables including furnishings, clothing and other personal property. Keep the list in a safe place.

Stockpile emergency supplies of canned food, medicine and first aid supplies and drinking water. Store drinking water in clean, closed containers.

Plan what to do with your pets.

Have a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries and emergency cooking equipment available.

Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to pump fuel for several days. Have a small disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.

Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.

Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.

Check on your insurance coverage. Homeowners' insurance policies generally do not cover flood damages. Only flood insurance can protect your home against flood damages. You can purchase flood insurance whether or not you live in a mapped flood zone.

Travel with Care

Leave early to avoid being marooned on flooded roads.

Make sure you have enough fuel for your car.

Follow recommended routes. DO NOT sightsee.

As you travel, monitor NOAA Weather Radio and local radio broadcasts for the latest information.

Watch for washed-out roads, earth-slides, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and falling or fallen objects.

Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges, and low areas.

DO NOT attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and go another way.

DO NOT underestimate the destructive power of fast-moving water. Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car. Water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge.

If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.

For a list of complete list of weather terms and preparation ideas before during and after a flood, visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website at www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/flood/floodprepare.cfm.