February 7, 2022
Albany, NY

B-Roll, Audio, Video, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Updates Ulster County Residents on Winter Storm

B-Roll, Audio, Video, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Updates Ulster County Residents on Winter Storm

Governor Hochul: "I want to thank everybody for truly rising to the occasion, inspiring me, as the Governor of New York, to know that when disaster strikes, we have the people with the experience and also the compassion, and the willingness to do what is extraordinary."

Hochul: "I'll just give you an update on the other storm we continue to weather and that is the COVID storm. Although our forecast is looking much better, and if you look at yesterday's infection rates statewide, it is 4.2 percent. The Mid-Hudson area is about 4 percent. So, we've not seen these kinds of numbers since November 8th in terms of our positive cases overall statewide, and our hospitalizations are down about 78 from yesterday."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul visited a warming center, toured storm damage, and held a storm briefing to update Ulster County residents on the winter storm.

B-ROLL of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Governor Hochul: Good afternoon, everyone. It's great to see you, despite the circumstances. This is when having a governor who spent a lot of time in Buffalo comes into play, because I know what I'm doing. I personally have endured power outages upwards of 7 to 8 days with a couple of little kids. I know how excruciating it can be.That's why we are so intense about being on the ground, right here.

I came to this county on Friday, before we really saw the full brunt of this storm, the ice, the snow, the sleet, the slippery roads, the ice gathering on the limbs. They're fragile and couldn't withstand the weight of literally three quarters of an inch of ice, which is the most we've had in over 20 years.

So, to deal with that, you need the dream team. This is the dream team standing behind me. And I'm here to express my gratitude on behalf of everyone in Ulster County and throughout the Mid-Hudson area, to thank them. And one of your own, Commissioner Jackie Bray, yes, our Commissioner of Homeland Security Emergency Services is from Ulster county. And she just had her power restored. Last night commissioner?

All right. Yes. She couldn't wait for that hot shower. So I'm told. So, it's great to know that she literally was suffering right along with our residents here, so you know she was intensely working to have power restored and life return to normal. When you are in a battle, you want to be in a foxhole with someone who is so committed to taking care of his people. And I'm talking about our great County Executive, Pat Ryan. I've worked with him on many issues, COVID, other crises, but he just has that can-do attitude that is contagious and gives the confidence to all the constituents. So, I want to thank my great friend and partner in government, Pat Ryan, our County Executive.

Another strong ally, Michelle Hinchey, our Senator. I saw her on Friday and she was instrumental in making sure that we had warming centers set up in places like Woodstock and Socrates. And so, really hands-on, the way you want your elected officials to be. So, I want to thank her for her partnership as well.

Also, yes, when there's a war, you call out to the National Guard. Our war against the weather this weekend. I want to thank, Isabelle Smith, our Brigadier General from the New York National Guard and all the Guards, men and women, that I had a chance to personally thank, go up to them and show my appreciation. They are there on a moment's notice to go wherever the need is greatest. And I want to thank them for always being there for us.

And when there is storms, there are storms and there's ice and there's power lines coming down. You want a utility company that is responsive. And I want to thank the people of Central Hudson who normally have about 130 linespeople on the ground, working the utilities and whatever challenges come up. They have deployed over a thousand individuals, bringing in people from other parts of the country to reinforce their efforts. So that has made an enormous difference and that's how you have the opportunity to go from literally 65,000 homes out of power just a few days ago, to having the power restored, to now having about 7,800 down. And we believe that by this evening - and I can be updated on this if there's been a change - it should be 95% restored in this county, which we're very optimistic about and are proud of them.

And again, they've been great. Central Hudson's been great in terms of their communication with us. Really, at the granular level, making sure we knew everything, not creating false expectations, dealing in the reality of the circumstance. So, I want to thank them for all they've done. And you'll be hearing from Ryan Hawthorne, who is the VP of operations as well. And also, Charles Freeney who is the CEO who literally is on the ground here as well.

Also, the other volunteers you don't see. You go to a warming center and you see, not just the Red Cross who are doing an exceptional job, but also the animal rescue volunteers. Yes, these are the people who rescued iguanas and birds and cats and dogs,and everything that you could possibly think of, making sure they had the food. I didn't get into a big conversation about what an iguana eats, but if I said, you better keep that little bird separated from them.

So we have people that are just doing extraordinary things. And to go to the warming centers as I did in Rosendale and hear in Kingston, and to see the people whose lives have been touched by this. A 92-year-old gentleman, who literally celebrate his birthday in the warming center. Not what he had planned, but he was so optimistic. He was playing cards with one of his new best friends, and told me that the 1940s and 50s, he traveled the world, singing vaudeville, singing in performances. And so, of course, I asked him if he would sing a song for this.

So if you check our website, I'm sure it will be featured very prominently in a matter of time. So these are the very human stories that are out there that needs to be told. Because yes, it looks like a weather event and you look at the metrics and what the wind is, and the wind chill factor and how long the ice will last, et cetera. But there's people whose lives are turned upside down when the power goes out. And it is a frightening time, especially if you have children who need to be fed, and everything in your freezer has now melted away, and nothing in your refrigerator can be used anymore. And you can't turn on a stove to heat even a can of soup.

These are scary times for people. So I just want to, again, extend my heartfelt gratitude to the people who've made an extremely challenging situation, be the very best it can be. And I want to thank everyone who's been involved in this. So, with that, you'll get a more detailed analysis about the people we had on the ground. I was at the Thruway Authority Maintenance Center on Friday afternoon, talking about how we're deploying DOT crews, Thruway Authority crews. Everybody we can get, it was all hands on deck and a Jackie Bray will describe that as well.

So we're feeling good about the restoration of power. Continue to do what I ask people to do, when I was talking about this on Saturday. People that are vulnerable, they need to be checked on. This is when we show that New Yorkers are great neighbors, especially in our rural communities. Homes are not necessarily close to each other. You can kind of forget someone who's a little further down the road. That may be the person who needs the most help, with their animals, or an aging parent, or someone who needs medicine.

And even during a pandemic, I went into one of the warming centers, and they had to have a separate area for people who were testing positive for COVID. Again, we're not out of this yet, my friends. And so, they had to be sensitive to making sure that we could keep individuals separate. So, this is what they had to deal with over the last couple of days here since Friday afternoon. And again, I want to thank everybody for truly rising to the occasion, inspiring me, as the Governor of New York, to know that when disaster strikes, we have the people with the experience and also the compassion, and the willingness to do what is extraordinary.

And lastly, before I turn over the commissioner, I cannot get the image out of my head of just seeing the lines on the ground on a road we were just visiting. And that road, Binnewater road, was one of the many roads. I think there are over a hundred roads that were shut down initially. And now we're down to about 14 or so roads. But I had a chance to speak to some of the, I guess they're called linesmen, lineswomen. They're all gentlemen. So I'll call them linesman.

Talking about the job they have, when it's dark out, and they're required to navigate the ice and the sleet that's hitting their faces. And they're supposed to go up a pole, and to restore electrical power. Think about the courage that is involved with that single act. And these people were so courageous. These are really some of the unsung heroes who are willing to go out there and all kinds of weather, adverse circumstances, and just do their job, to be able to turn on that switch so we can have the power for our homes and to be able to take care of our families. And so I want to thank them as well. I don't think they get the recognition they deserve in storms like this.

So with that, Commissioner Bray, you'll be hearing from. You will be hearing from Senator Hinchey as well, and our County Executive Pat Ryan, as well as our friends from Central Hudson, who are working tirelessly as soon as they leave here, I'm sure we'll see them on a pole as we're driving away. Because these guys are very hands-on, and I want to thank everyone involved. And with that, Commissioner Jackie Bray.

Well, there, you have it. Our complete storm - and I was wondering if the numbers were going to get better even as I walked through the door, because I was told it was 7,800. You tell me 6,800, you might be 5,800 by the time we leave now. So I'll speak a little longer in hopes of that. But, again, if you're one of those family members, every minute is a minute too long. So we understand what they're going through and want to be as supportive as they can.

Before we take questions, I'll just give you an update on the other storm we continue to weather and that is the COVID storm. Although our forecast is looking much better, and if you look at yesterday's infection rates statewide, it is 4.2 percent. The Mid-Hudson area is about 4 percent. So, we've not seen these kinds of numbers since November 8th in terms of our positive cases overall statewide, and our hospitalizations are down about 78 from yesterday.

So, we are improving. Hospitalizations are getting better all across the state and that's exactly the metric I'm looking at. As we've explained from the very beginning, it starts with the infection. If people can self-resolve at home, that's great. But those who are sick end up having to go into hospital sometimes in ICU, sometimes even worse, and that is the number I watch to make sure we have the capacity to take care of everybody.

So, I'll be making another announcement on Wednesday about one of our mask vaccination requirements that are in place, that have been in place since early to mid-December when we first saw the early signs of this Omicron could be wildly contagious and it certainly was and so we put in some protections in place to help our workplaces and help employees and customers. So, we'll be having a conversation about that, if you can just hold on till Wednesday's news conference.

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