February 25, 2019
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on Damaging Wind Storm and Deploys Department of Financial Services Mobile Command Unit

TOP Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on Damaging...

Power Outages Lower Than Anticipated After Governor Pre-Deployed Resources to Impacted Areas and Activated Emergency Operations Center Prior to Storm

DFS-Staffed Mobile Command Unit Deployed to Provide Insurance Claim Assistance

Department of Public Service Working Closely with Utility Companies to Restore Power - Utilities Estimate 95 Percent of Power to be Restored by End of Day Tomorrow

State Police Issues More Than 70 Citations to Commercial Vehicle Operators Who Violated Empty Trailer Ban 

 

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo updated New Yorkers on state recovery and response efforts following the severe storm that brought extremely dangerous and destructive winds to the majority of the state throughout Sunday and Monday. The Governor also deployed the State Department of Financial Services mobile command unit to assist residents with insurance claims. Additionally, the Governor announced State Police have issued more than 70 citations to commercial vehicle operators in violation of the ban on empty tractor trailers and empty tandems - which are still in effect for portions of the New York State Thruway, the seven MTA-maintained bridges in New York City, and the Port Authority-operated Bayonne Bridge.

 

Currently, 61,452 New Yorkers are without power as a result of wind damage to power lines and other infrastructure. Utility companies estimate that 95 percent of power will be restored statewide by the end of the day tomorrow. The State Department of Public Service is working closely with utility companies to ensure their nearly 7,000 workers, including 1,700 workers mostly from out of state, are doing everything they can to ensure power is restored as quickly as possible. Power outages are lower than anticipated after Governor Cuomo pre-deployed State resources to impacted regions and activated the Emergency Operations Center prior to storm. Winds will begin to subside throughout the day, however, areas east of central New York could still experience gusts up to 60 miles per hour through tonight.

 

"Mother Nature gave us another test but everyone did what they needed to do to mitigate the impact of this severe storm," Governor Cuomo said. "The preparation we did in this case paid off, but even one day without power is a hardship and we are working closely with the utilities to restore power as quickly as possible. We hope to have 95 percent power restored by the end of tomorrow. Some parts of the state are still seeing dangerous conditions and I continue to urge New Yorkers to use caution when traveling."

 

In addition, the Governor surveyed storm damage and toured the ice boom and ice breaking operations on the Niagara River. NYPA will inspect the ice boom when conditions permit and will make repairs as necessary. Ice breaker boats will be deployed 24 hours a day for the next three days, and beyond if needed. To learn more about NYPA's ice boom and ice breaking operations, click here.

 

The Governor has already activated 250 members of the National Guard to

assist with storm associated debris clearance.

 

Strong to damaging wind gusts in the 50 to 65 mph range continue from the Finger Lakes across the state into Long Island. Winds across portions of the North Country and Mid-Hudson Valley aren't expected to reach this magnitude, but gusts up to 50 mph remain possible throughout the afternoon. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.

 

Wind gusts will continue to gradually decrease from west to east across the western half of the state this afternoon. Wind gusts in Western New York and the Finger Lakes are expected to drop below 50 mph by 6 p.m. today. Areas further east will likely remain very windy through this afternoon with gusts remaining between 45 mph and 60 mph. Due to the longevity of this wind event, downed trees and tree limbs are possible into this evening. Snow showers will continue through much of the afternoon before consolidating into a lake effect snow band which is expected to impact north-central New York into the Mohawk Valley regions.

 

The National Weather Service continues to have several High Wind Watches and Warnings posted for much of the state. Additionally, Lakeshore Flood Watches will be in effect Sunday into Monday for the counties east of Lakes Erie and Ontario as the powerful winds will create significant wave action. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.

 

Power Outages by County as of 5:15 p.m.

 

County

Outages

Albany

6,321

Allegany

461

Broome

274

Cayuga

834

Columbia

878

Cortland

188

Delaware

191

Dutchess

2,950

Erie

11,112

Genesee

622

Greene

3,300

Lewis

204

Madison

773

Monroe

445

Montgomery

132

Nassau

1,406

Niagara

568

Oneida

1,776

Onondaga

243

Ontario

390

Orange

1,737

Orleans

161

Oswego

3,139

Otsego

396

Putnam

446

Queens

1,198

Rensselaer

1,935

Rockland

427

Saratoga

530

Schenectady

2,385

Schuyler

117

Steuben

832

Suffolk

2,088

Sullivan

830

Tioga

111

Ulster

8,355

Warren

974

Washington

412

Westchester

1,366

Wyoming

233

Yates

100

 

Travel Restrictions

Empty tractor trailers and tandems remain banned from the following interstate highways and bridge until further notice:

 

Thruway Highways:

  • I-90 between exit 31 (Utica) and exit 45 (Rochester - I-490)

 

Port Authority Bridges:

  • Bayonne Bridge

 

Empty tractor trailers and tandems remain banned from the following MTA bridges until 6 p.m.:

  • Robert F. Kennedy Bridge
  • Throgs Neck Bridge
  • Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge
  • Bronx-Whitestone Bridge
  • Henry Hudson Bridge
  • Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge
  • Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge

 

Motorists are also 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.

 

Motorists are also 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.

 

Agency Preparations

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The State Emergency Operations Center remains activated. The Division is also coordinating with state agencies and local governments to ensure resources from the State's ten regional stockpiles are available for deployment throughout the storm. Currently, the stockpiles are prepared to respond to requests for assistance with assets from its stockpiles, including:

  • More than 725 generators
  • More than 1,250 pumps
  • More than 2 million sandbags
  • 19 sandbaggers
  • More than 6,700 feet of Aquadam

 

Department of Public Service

The Department of Public Service is in contact with utility senior executives as they seek to minimize outages and expedite outage restorations. Electric and gas utilities, as well as telecommunication service providers, such as Verizon, have brought on additional personnel to minimize service disruptions.

 

New York's utilities have nearly 7,000 workers available for restoration efforts, including more than 1,700 external line and tree crews brought on for this event, to be deployed in areas most impacted. The utilities are deploying restoration crews where needed. Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the storm event. Utilities will continue to secure added resources in anticipation of prolonged outages due to sustained winds which may delay restoration efforts. 

 

Utilities are prepared to respond 24 hours a day to power disruptions and are mandated to implement their emergency response plans, when needed, which includes contacting customers on life-support equipment and other critical customers. New Yorkers should prepare for outages that may last several days.

 

The Department's Call Center Helpline can be reached by calling (800) 342-3377. Department staff will monitor and report on storm impacts and utility restoration activities throughout the event and will be present in the field, as needed. 

 

Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the restoration period. The utilities are prepared to respond to power disruptions throughout the event.

 

New York Power Authority

In Niagara, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) is focused on public safety and preventing and mitigating any flooding along the Niagara River in the vicinity of the Niagara Power Plant. NYPA has positioned equipment to prepare for any necessary ice boom repairs and for any needed ice breaking activity. It is important to note that the ice boom is designed to submerge during high wind and high water events, allowing ice to overtop the boom. It is not unusual for ice boom pontoons to break loose during high wind events. Loose pontoons do not mean the ice boom is broken, or not functioning as designed. As of this morning, a change in wind direction from Southwest to Due West is helping to stop the push of the ice over the boom.

 

NYPA has prepared all of its facilities and operations for this high wind weather event and has also taken the necessary actions for continued safe operations to support grid reliability. NYPA transmission crews are ready to respond to events that may impact the transmission system. NYPA also is in communication with municipal utility partners and investor-owned utilities to coordinate on potential mutual aid response to outages, if needed. NYPA will continue to communicate with utility and emergency management partners and to monitor weather forecasts.

 

The Canal Corporation is also monitoring the weather and is prepared to address flooding or ice jam situations as necessary.

 

Department of Transportation

In addition to the more than 3,900 supervisors and operators statewide, the Department of Transportation currently has 1,590 large dump trucks, 34 tracked excavators, 17 vacuum trucks with sewer jets, 328 large loaders, 79 chippers, 53 traffic signal trucks, 15 tree crew bucket trucks and 45 loaders with grapple statewide.

 

In addition, to support response activities in critical areas, 15 wood chippers, 4 traffic signal trucks,1 auger truck, 1 tree crew bucket truck, 1 medium duty work truck, 27 portable variable message signs and 13 personnel - including, 8 traffic signal technicians, 3 tree crew personnel and 2 ICS support specialists were deployed to Central New York, the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions.

 

Crews are patrolling roadways and monitoring weather conditions. Most residencies are in active snow and ice operations, treating roads as needed. Spare trucks have been readied for debris removal, as well as chainsaws, generators and other equipment for storm response activities.

 

There are currently three dark traffic signals in the Capital Region, one in the Mohawk Valley, one in Central NY, and five in Western NY. The Department is coordinating with local municipalities and utilities to evaluate the signals and restore power as quickly as possible.  

 

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority staff are prepared to respond to any wind related issues with 667 operators and supervisors across the state, small to medium sized excavators, plow/dump trucks, large loaders, and a number of portable VMS boards, portable light towers, smaller generators, smaller pumps and equipment hauling trailers, as well as signage and other traffic control devices available for any detours or closures. Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of weather conditions on the Thruway.

 

The Thruway Authority encourages motorists to download its mobile app which is available to download 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 by following this link: www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml. For real-time updates, motorists can follow@ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.

 

MTA

MTA is constantly monitoring wind and roadway conditions and MTA bridges have a ban on empty and tandem trailers until 6 pm Monday. Speed restrictions are in place on several MTA bridges, and due to sustained high winds, there are currently vehicle restrictions on the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge and theVerrazzano-Narrows Bridge including tractor trailers, cars pulling trailers, motorcycles, and any other vehicle deemed to be a potential safety hazard due to cargo or other factors. Motorists should check new.mta.info or sign up for text message or email alerts at https://protect2.fireeye.com/url?k=6c23783e-30054c65-6c21810b-000babd905ee-a21fe004cd0f1ee6&u=http://www.mymtaalerts.com/ for the latest bridge status information. State Police, National Guard and NYPD at MTA Bridges and Tunnels facilities may assist MTA personnel if needed. 

 

Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and NYC Transit have personnel on standby responding to fallen trees and wires in open areas, as well as other emergency response personnel such as track and signal maintainers. 

 

New York State Police

State Troopers have issued more than 70 citations to commercial vehicle operators in violation of the empty trailer ban. The Division will deploy additional Troopers to affected areas as needed, and all Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit and Traffic Incident Management patrols are actively engaged for the duration of the weather event. All four-wheel drive vehicles are in service and all specialty vehicles, including snowmobiles, Utility Task Vehicles, and boats are staged and ready for use.

 

Department of Environmental Conservation

Department of Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation. Twenty-one saw crew teams are strategically located in key regions of the state and ready to assist with any tree clearing and response needs. In addition, all available assets, including snowmobiles and utility vehicles, are ready to assist with any emergency response.

 

Safety Tips

If experiencing a power outage, New Yorkers should:

  • Turn off or disconnect major appliances and other equipment, e.g., computers, in case of a momentary power surge that can damage these devices. Keep one light turned on so you know when power returns. Consider using surge protectors wherever you use electronic equipment.
  • Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage and listen to local broadcasts for official information. For a list of utilities in NYS 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 (4) 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.
  • In intense heat, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or cooling shelter. If you remain at home, move to the lowest level - cool air falls. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing and drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • If you are in a tall building, take the stairs and move to the lowest level of the building. If trapped in an elevator, wait for assistance. Do not attempt to force the doors open. Remain patient - there is plenty of air and the interior of the elevator is designed for passenger safety.
  • Remember to provide fresh, cool water for your pets.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion and dangerous driving conditions. If you must drive during a blackout, remember to obey the 4-way stop rule at intersections with non-functioning traffic signals.
  • Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not be working.
  • If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location, such as the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility that has heat.

 

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

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