Governor Launches Storm Assistance Hotline to Provide Updates to Public on Shelters, Warming Centers, Power Outages - Call 866-697-2434
State Emergency Operations Center to Increase Activation Level to Include Transportation and Emergency Mass Care Personnel for Potential High Impact Storm
Directs Review into Power Failures After Winter Storm Riley
Earlier today Governor Andrew M. Cuomo urged New Yorkers in the eastern portion of the state to prepare for another Nor'easter. The National Weather Service has issued Winter Storm Watches and Warnings for the eastern portion of the Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Capital, Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island regions Tuesday night through Thursday morning. Snowfall rates of up to 2 inches per hour are possible. Sustained winds of 15 mph with gusts up to 40 mph in some areas combined with heavy, wet may bring down tree limbs and power lines causing additional power outages. Traveling will be dangerous due to low visibility and slippery road conditions.
As the second storm approaches, the Governor has activated a toll free hotline for New Yorkers to call to get updates on weather, power outage restoration times, and shelters and warming centers in their area. New Yorkers are urged to call 866-697-2434 for assistance. Additionally, the State Emergency Operations Center, remains activated for enhanced monitoring and will increase operations to include all transportation agencies for this upcoming storm.
The Governor also directed the New York State Department of Public Service to conduct a full review into power failures after Winter Storm Riley. Four days after Winter Storm Riley, while power has been restored to more than 280,000 New Yorkers, 74,790 customers remain without power - 93 percent of whom are located in Dutchess, Putnam, Sullivan and Westchester counties.
AUDIO of the call is available here.
A rush transcript is available below.
Governor Cuomo: Good afternoon, thank you. Besides the people the operator mentioned, we have Superintendent George Beach from the State Police, Cathy Calhoun, Director of State Operations, Tom Congdon, Executive Deputy, New York State Department of Public Service. We have Matthew Driscoll Executive Director of the New York State Thruway Authority, Joe Lhota who you'll hear from, Chairman of the MTA, Gil Quiniones President of NYPA, Roger Parrino who is the Commissioner for the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, John Rhodes head of the PSC, Kevin Wisely who is the Director of the New York State Office of Emergency Management and General Ray Shield, Commander of the New York National Guard.
As you know, we're just coming out of one storm, one Nor'easter, and it looks like we're entering another starting tomorrow morning. The situation becomes more complicated because we haven't yet finished cleaning up from the first storm and we're concerned about a compounding effect where tomorrow's snow storm, which is supposed to be significant, may delay the repairs that we're in the midst of. We had about 280,000 people who were without power from the previous storm. That number is down to about 78,000. While we've made progress, frankly the progress isn't good enough and it's not fast enough, John Rhodes from the Public Service Commission, I'm going to direct to do a full review of how the utility companies handled the situation. I'm not satisfied. I think it's unacceptable. These storms have now become the rule rather than the exception and they have to have the capacity to quickly restore power. You know, I joke that I've been through five 100-year storms in two years. This is the new normal and they have to be ready for it and frankly, I'm getting tired of having the same conversation with them. So, the PSC will do a full review. Depending on their findings, the utility companies can be sanctioned or they could be fined. But, let's have the PSC do the review first.
We are talking about significant snow for tomorrow. We expect that travel will be problematic. We expect that there will be delays at airports, etcetera. We're deploying personnel and equipment across the state now to affected areas - this is going to be more in the eastern part of the state. So, we'll have the personnel and equipment there, but it's going to be a wet and heavy snow and there's going to be a lot of it. And it's going to fall quickly. So, that's going to be the challenge. And as I mentioned earlier, compounded by the fact that we haven't yet repaired all the damage from the prior storm. There is a number that I'd like to give out: 866-697-2434. If someone does not have power in their home, tomorrow morning when the snow starts to fall - it's supposed to start around sunrise, I would strongly suggest that they consider leaving the home for a safe shelter because if the snow is as heavy as they say, it's going to dramatically slow the number of repairs that we're making. Mr. Rhodes from the PSC will give you a sense of the progress that the utility companies are reporting. But if somebody doesn't have power in the morning and we're looking at another storm, that situation could get serious. And everyone's instinct is to stay in the home but if you have no power in a home and we're looking at another storm that could take several days to recover, that could be a potentially dangerous situation. And that's what we are concerned about.