December 24, 2020
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Directs State Agencies to Deploy Additional Flood Response Assets as Storm System Begins Impacting New York

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Governor Cuomo Directs State Agencies to Deploy Additional Flood Response Assets as Storm System Begins Impacting New York
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New Yorkers Urged to Prepare for Heavy Rain Combined with Snowmelt Which May Produce Flooding in Multiple Locations

Swift Water Rescue Teams Strategically Placed Throughout the State; State Stockpiles Ready to Deploy Additional Resources

Strong Winds May Also Result in Widespread Power Outages, Property Damage

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed state agencies to deploy additional flood and storm response assets as warm temperatures and a large storm system have begun impacting the state and may lead to localized urban and river flooding. Specifically, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has pre-deployed swift water rescue teams to strategic locations throughout the Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson and Capital Regions. Additionally, the Division has readied all 10 of the state's regional stockpiles and are prepared to deploy resources ranging from pumps, sandbags and generators to cots, blankets and pillows. Other state agencies are also preparing boats and other watercraft for deployment in the event they are needed. New Yorkers are being reminded to closely follow local weather reports for the latest updates

"Rain and warm temperatures have already moved into much of the state, and with so much snow still on the ground, there is a very real chance some areas may see flooding on Christmas morning," Governor Cuomo said. "Everything is being done to prepare for any potential impacts and the state stands ready to support any of our local partners who may need assistance. In the meantime, I urge everyone to celebrate smart and use caution if traveling over the next 48 hours."

Currently, forecasters are calling for 2 to 3 inches of widespread rainfall across most of the state, with 3 to 6 inches of rain possible across the eastern Catskills where there is significant snowpack already on the ground. The heaviest periods of rain are expected during the overnight hours. Not only does this storm raise the level of concern in terms of flooding, but forecasters are also predicting that portions of the Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson and Capital Regions could see wind gusts of up to 50 mph during the overnight hours into Friday, with the potential for gusts of up to 65 mph in the New York City and Long Island Regions during the same time frame. This creates the potential for power outages due to downed tree limbs and other debris.

As most of the state faces the potential for heavy rainfall, lake effect snow has begun moving into the Western New York Region. Approximately 3 to 5 inches of snow are to be expected through Friday evening. Temperatures behind the system are expected to drop rapidly late Friday. New Yorkers traveling for the holidays should use extreme caution as standing water could freeze of Friday night, increasing the chances of black ice and hazardous travel conditions.

The National Weather Service has continued to issue numerous Advisories, Watches, and Warnings for flooding, high winds and winter weather. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.

Agency Preparations

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Emergency Operations Center remains activated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will closely monitor weather conditions, coordinate state response operations and remain in contact with localities throughout the duration of the event. State stockpiles are prepared to deploy assets to localities to support any storm-related needs, including pumps, chainsaws, sandbags, generators, cots, blankets and bottled water.

The State Office of Fire Prevention and Control also remains in constant coordination with partner agencies and local governments. The Office has pre-deployed its Swift Water Rescue teams to strategic locations throughout the Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson and Capital Regions to provide additional rescue support if required.

Department of Transportation

The State Department of Transportation is prepared to respond with 3,587 supervisors and operators available statewide. The need for resource deployments (operators, equipment, mechanics, EOI's, traffic signal technicians) will be continually reevaluated as conditions warrant throughout the event. Drainage inlets, culverts and other drainage structures are being inspected and cleared of accumulated ice and snow. Flood and wind response tools (generators, pumps, chainsaws, light plants, hand tools, chippers, etc.) are being readied and loaded into response trucks for immediate dispatch, while plow trucks are being dressed for plowing and salting operations.

All available flood/wind/snow and ice response equipment is ready to deploy. Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 1599 large plow trucks
  • 175 medium duty trucks with plow
  • 40 snow blowers
  • 49 loaders with grapple
  • 16 vacuum trucks with sewer jet
  • 31 tracked excavators
  • 45 wheeled excavators
  • 53 tractor trailers with lowboy trailer
  • 15 tree crew bucket trucks
  • 33 traffic signal trucks
  • 6 water pumps (4-6 inch)
  • 79 chippers 10" (min) capacity

All affected residency locations will be staffed for 24/7 operation throughout the duration of priority response operations. Mechanic support will be available 24/7 to keep response equipment operational.

For real time travel information, call 511, visit www.511NY.org, or logon to the new mobile site at m.511ny.org.

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 684 operators and supervisors ready to respond with 254 large snow plows, 105 medium snow plows, 11 tow plows and 62 loaders across the state with more than 118,000 tons of road salt on hand. Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway. The Thruway Authority encourages motorists to download its mobile app which is available for free on iPhone and Android devices. The app provides motorists direct access to real-time traffic and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert e-mails which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway here.

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

New York State Park Police and Park personnel are on alert and closely monitoring weather conditions and impacts. Response equipment is being fueled, tested and prepared for storm response use. Park Police are prepared to provide support to swift water operations in Binghamton area. State Parks operations is supporting DOT with eight saw crews placed on standby and on-call drivers for state stockpiles in impacted areas. Park visitors should check parks.ny.gov or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.

Department of Environmental Conservation

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas and infrastructure likely to be impacted by severe weather. All available assets, including swift water rescue teams, are positioned to assist with any emergency response.

Department of Public Service

New York's utilities have approximately 5,500 works available to engage in damage assessment, response and restoration effort across New York State. Staff will track the utilities' work throughout the storm and will ensure the utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to experience the greatest impact.

State Police

State Police are prepared to deploy additional Troopers as needed to affected areas. All State Police specialized vehicles, including boats, four-wheel drive vehicles and Utility Task Vehicles, are in service and ready for response. In addition, swift water rescue teams are staged for immediate deployment. All Troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.

New York Power Authority and Canal Corporation

The New York Power Authority and the Canal Corporation staff is performing preparations for the forecasted weather to ensure all facilities, assets and equipment are secured and ready. The Power Authority also is prepared to support power restoration activities if needed.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) personnel are hard at work to ensure safe, reliable service continues throughout the storm and aftermath and ate monitoring the weather closely, preparing for heavy rain and winds across its service region. Drains are being inspected and cleared as necessary, and personnel and equipment are being staged at strategic locations for faster response. Equipment being prepared includes water pumps, tools for clearing vegetation and other debris, emergency trucks and other maintenance vehicles. Flood-prone areas are being closely monitored, and construction activities are being monitored and will be suspended as necessary. Buses will operate on reduced frequency as needed and MTA bridges will have a ban on tandem vehicles and empty tractor-trailers from 6 p.m. on December 24 to 10 a.m. on December 25 or as necessary. Customers should sign up for real-time service alerts via text or email. These alerts are also available via the MTA's apps: MYmta, Metro-North Train Time and Long Island Rail Road Train Time.

Port Authority

The Port Authority urges motorists to use caution; speed restrictions may be in effect at the bridges, as well as along roadways to and from the crossings. Travelers through the Port Authority's airports, bus terminals and bus stations are encouraged to reach out to carriers and airlines directly for the latest information on delays, cancelations or rebookings. For the latest information about Port Authority facilities, please check social media, sign up for PA alerts or download one of the PA mobile apps. Residents and businesses clearing sidewalks and driveways are encouraged to remove snow from street drains to enable runoff in storm sewers.

Safe Travel

Please drive with care and keep these safety tips in mind:

  • 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 m.p.h. can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
  • Leave early to avoid being marooned on flooded roads.
  • Follow recommended routes. DO NOT ignore emergency detours to view flooded areas.
  • As you travel, monitor NOAA Weather Radio and local radio broadcasts.
  • 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.
  • If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.

Some of the most important tips for safe driving include:

  • When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
  • Use caution on bridges as ice can form quicker than on roads.
  • Wet leaves on roadways can cause slippery conditions, making it important to drive at slower speeds when approaching patches of them.
  • If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, a set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag.

The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before driving, ensure your vehicle is clear of ice and snow; good vision is key to good driving. Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars, be extra alert, and remember, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

It's important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 m.p.h., which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit, to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. Oftentimes on interstate highways, snowplows will operate side by side, as this is the most efficient and safe way to clear several lanes at one time.

Motorists and pedestrians should also keep in mind that snowplow drivers have limited lines of sight, and the size and weight of snowplows can make it very difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. Snow blowing from behind the plow can severely reduce visibility or cause whiteout conditions. Motorists should not attempt to pass snowplows or follow too closely. The safest place for motorists to drive is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.

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