Statewide State of Emergency Remains in Effect as Historic Winter Storm Continues to Heavily Impact Western New York and the North Country
Additional 200 National Guard Soldiers Deploying to Western New York on Monday to Assist New York's Emergency Response
State Agencies Surged Personnel and Equipment to Western New York and Continue to Work on the Ground with Local Public Safety Partners, Including Forming Strike Teams with State Police, DHSES, DEC, DOT and National Guard to Support Power Restoration Efforts in City of Buffalo
NYS Thruway (I-90) Remains Closed to All Traffic between Exit 46 (Rochester, I-390) and the Pennsylvania Border; Countywide Travel Bans in Place for Areas in Western New York and Jefferson County Most Impacted by Storm
Numerous State Highways and Interstates in Erie County Remain Closed Due to Conditions; Several Counties in Western New York, Finger Lakes Region and the North Country Under States of Emergency with Local Travel Bans
Approximately 25,000 Power Outages Remain Across the State, Majority of Outages in Erie County
Governor Kathy Hochul today provided an update to the ongoing response to the historic winter storm which brought blizzard conditions over the course of the weekend to many parts of Western New York, the Finger Lakes and the North Country regions. On Thursday, ahead of the event, Governor Hochul declared a statewide State of Emergency and deployed the New York National Guard on Friday evening to assist with storm response and search and rescue missions. The Governor surged additional assets and personnel from numerous state agencies involved in the emergency response on Christmas Eve, and overnight Saturday into Sunday, the State Police, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Conservation and the National Guard teamed up with local public safety officials and utility crews to form strike teams focused on life and safety checks in the City of Buffalo. On Christmas, those teams spent the day supporting power restoration efforts with heavy snow removal equipment.
As snow will continue to persist in Western New York and the North Country through Monday with gusts of 30 to 40 miles per hour, Governor Hochul urged New Yorkers to continue adhering to local travel bans and limiting time outdoors.
"We continue to work around the clock with local leaders to respond to this historic storm and are in contact with the White House to secure critical federal assistance to help our communities recover," Governor Hochul said. "I encourage everyone to continue to look after one another, stay off the roads and take precautions to stay safe in your home."
The North County, Finger Lakes and Central New York regions all experienced peak wind gusts of more than 60 miles per hour during the event. In Western New York, peak wind gusts reached 79 miles per hour near the Buffalo Skyway. Areas off Lake Erie in Western New York may see another one and a half feet of snow and areas off Lake Ontario in the North Country may see another 3 feet of snow by Tuesday afternoon.
Lake Effect Snow Warnings and Winter Storm Warnings remain in effect for counties across the Western New York and North Country regions. For a complete list of weather watches, warnings, and advisories across New York, visit the National Weather Service website.
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "Stay home and adhere to local travel bans that are in place. This is for your own safety, and to facilitate operations of utility crews, plow trucks and emergency responders. Our State agency teams have been working hand in glove with each other and our local partners to help New Yorkers get through this historic storm."
I encourage everyone to continue to look after one another, stay off the roads and take precautions to stay safe in your home."
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The State's Emergency Operations Center and the Fire Operations Center are fully staffed and actively working to fulfill requests for assistance from local governments.
The Office of Emergency Management and The Office of Fire Prevention and Control have deployed personnel and equipment (UTVs) to perform life and safety checks on people in Western New York, along with resources to support warming shelters, including more than 4,600 MREs for shelters in Erie County and the Western New York region, and more than 1,700 MREs, 4,800 cans of water, 1,100 blankets and pillows for shelters in Genesee County.
DHSES is prepared to respond to additional requests for assistance from local governments across the state and deploy assets from the State's stockpiles.
Division of Military and Naval Affairs
The New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs is providing an additional 200 soldiers from the New York National Guard to Western New York to assist New York's emergency response.
Department of Public Service
New York's utilities have approximately 8,000 workers available statewide to engage in damage assessment, wire guarding, response, repair, and restoration efforts.
Despite the hazardous conditions, National Grid has been able to safely restore more than 143,000 customers, affected by the winter storm event. More than 175,000 have been affected by this severe weather event.
National Grid has 3,092 Line, Tree and Service personnel engaged in the repair and restoration effort system wide.
NYSEG/RG&E has been able to restore more than 213,000 electric customers affected by the statewide winter weather event. Over 217,000 have been affected by this event.
NYSEG/RG&E have 2,261 Line, Tree and Service personnel engaged in repair and restoration efforts across their system.
Department of Transportation
The State Department of Transportation is responding with 3,450 supervisors and operators available statewide.
The Department has further supported snow and ice removal operations in Western New York, the North Country and the Finger Lakes with outside resources throughout the storm in two separate waves.
During the first wave of deployments, to support response activities in critical areas, a total of 71 staff, including 65 plow truck operators, 4 supervisors, 1 assistant manager, 1 ICS support specialist, 13 plow trucks, 2 snow blowers, and 1 grader were distributed as follows:
- Received 3 plow trucks from Central NY
- Received 2 plow trucks, 2 snow blowers, and 1 grader from Finger Lakes
- Received 4 operators and 2 plow trucks from Southern Tier
- Received 26 operators, 2 supervisors, and 1 assistant manager from Mid-Hudson
- Received 10 operators, 1 supervisor, and 3 plow trucks from Southern Tier
- Received 19 operators and 1 supervisor from Long Island
- Received 1 ICS specialist from Capital District
- Received 2 operators and 1 plow truck from Capital District
- Received 2 operators and 1 plow truck from Mohawk Valley
- Received 2 operators and 1 plow truck from Central NY
During the second wave of deployments, a total of 18 staff, including 12 plow truck operators and 6 mechanics, 3 snow blowers, 4 loaders, 1 bulldozer and 1 grader have been deployed and are distributed as follows:
- Received 2 operators and 1 snow blower from Capital District
- Received 2 operators and 1 loader from Mohawk Valley
- Received 4 operators, 1 snow blower and 1 loader from Central NY
- Received 4 operators and 2 loaders from Southern Tier
- Received 1 dozer (from Capital District
- Received 1 mechanic and 1 snow blower from Southern Tier
- Received 2 mechanics from Mid-Hudson)
- Received 1 mechanic and 1 grader (from Southern Tier)
- Received 2 mechanics from Long Island
Emergency contractor assets: 4 loaders for rescue and recovery mission in Western New York
All available response equipment is deployed. Fleet mechanics in affected areas are staffing all main residency locations 24/7to perform repairs and keep trucks on the road.
Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:
- 1583 large plow trucks
- 338 large loaders
- 157 medium duty trucks with plow
- 37 large snow blowers
- 52 tow plows
- 20 graders
- 29 tracked excavators
- 44 wheeled excavators
- 49 loader grapple attachments
- 32 traffic signal trucks
- 13 tree crew bucket trucks
Thruway Authority maintenance facilities are staffed around the clock and responding to the storm with 678 operators and supervisors statewide. Thruway has shifted and deployed additional staff and equipment from its New York and Albany Divisions to support snow and ice operations in Western New York. Deployed resources include large plow trucks and operators. Additional resources are on standby and ready to shift as needed.
ALL VEHICLES are banned on the New York State Thruway (I-90) from exit 46 (Rochester I-390) to the Pennsylvania border, and on the Niagara Thruway (I-190) from I-90 to exit 22 (Route 62) until further notice.
Thruway statewide equipment numbers and resources include:
- 364 large and medium duty plow trucks
- 10 tow plows
- 66 loaders
- More than 123,000 tons of salt on hand
Variable Message Signs and social media are utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway. Follow the Thruway Authority on Twitter: @NYSThruway& @ThruwayTraffic and on Facebook: NYS Thruway Authority.
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 information, live traffic cameras, 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.
New York State Police
The State Police has deployed additional personnel and assets throughout Western New York and Jefferson County to assist with storm-related issues. State Police is operating two strike teams in the city of Buffalo in partnership with Environmental Conservation Police, Forest Rangers, State Fire and the NYS Department of Transportation to assist National Grid with access to their substations and equipment off State Route 33 as they work to restore electricity. Troopers have responded to more than 750 crashes and nearly 1,300 disabled vehicles since the start of the storm.
Winter Travel Safety
The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, review these safety tips:
- When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
- Make sure that your vehicle is clear of ice and snow; good vision is key to good driving.
- Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions. Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars.
- Be extra alert and remember that snowdrifts can hide smaller children.
- Make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
- If you have a cell phone or other communications device such as a two-way radio available for your use, keep the battery charged and keep it with you whenever traveling.
- Be aware of wind chill - wind in combination with the actual temperature - that can cause an increase of heat loss to the human body.
- Dress appropriately and avoid staying in the cold too long.
- Wear a hat and gloves when appropriate with layers of clothing. Avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of the body to the cold.
- Drink plenty of warm fluids or warm water but avoid caffeine and alcohol. Stay active to maintain body heat.
- Take frequent breaks from the cold.
- If signals of hypothermia or frostbite appear, get out of the cold, slowly warm the individual and seek medical assistance:
- Frostbite: Symptoms include loss of feeling, a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ears, and nose.
- Hypothermia: Symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, and drowsiness.
Heavy exertion, such as shoveling snow, clearing debris or pushing a car, increase the risk of a heart attack. Follow these tips to stay safe after the storm:
- Stay warm, dress warm and SLOW DOWN when working outdoors.
- Take frequent rests to avoid over-exertion
- If you feel chest pain, shortness of breath, or pain in your jaw radiating down your arm — STOP and seek help immediately.
Winter storms can cause power outages. Review these safety tips before the lights go out so you know what to do in an emergency:
- Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage.
- Avoid all downed power lines and report them to your utility provider for repair; assume all downed lines have live electricity.
- Use only flashlights for emergency lighting - candles pose the risk of fire.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors shut to keep food from spoiling. When in doubt, throw it out!
- Do not use a charcoal grill or generator indoors and do not use a gas stove for heat-they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide.
- Turn off major appliances to prevent damage from a possible surge when the power comes back on-keep one light turned on so you know when power returns.
Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths. Keep loved ones safe by following these important steps:
- Keep all combustibles at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- Always plug appliances including space heaters directly into a receptacle. Never plug appliances into a power strip or extension cord.
- Make sure there is a working smoke alarm in each bedroom, outside sleeping areas and on every level of your home.
For all non-emergency service needs before, during or after a storm, call 211 or visit 211nys.org.
For more safety tips, visit the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Safety Tips web page at www.dhses.ny.gov/safety.
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