January 16, 2022
Albany, NY

Video, B-Roll, Audio, Photos, & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Holds Storm Briefing

Video, B-Roll, Audio, Photos, & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Holds Storm Briefing

Governor Hochul: “If you have any travel to do for this holiday weekend, please do it today. The earlier hours before this all starts up this evening, because overnight it's going to be very unpredictable. And with the darkness and ice on the roads and high winds, this could be a very dangerous situation.”

Hochul: “I want to assure New Yorkers that this team and thousands of people all across the State are prepared for the anticipated weather events. But I also want to send out some messages to the public as well. We are going to be in a situation where it's somewhat unpredictable. We are monitoring the weather very, very closely, to see where resources need to be deployed. We're very strategic about this.”

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul held a storm briefing at the Department of Transportation Shop in Latham.

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

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

AUDIO of the event is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available here.

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

Governor Hochul: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us here in Latham at the place where it all happens. And I want to thank, first of all, our commissioners for joining me, our Commissioner of DOT, Marie Therese Dominguez, who's done an exceptional job. She's no stranger to battling, I think we met a few years back when I was Lieutenant governor at a snowstorm in Buffalo. So she's knows what she's doing, and we're very grateful for her leadership. So thank you, Commissioner Dominguez.

Also someone who's no stranger to dealing with all kinds of problems, which is why she's in her position today. And that is Commissioner Jackie Bray, the head of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, who by one of the reasons we brought her on was not just her experience dealing with crises, but also she was a Chief of Staff to the National Weather Service in Washington for many years. So certainly those skills come to bear right now.

So let's talk about where we are, as we anticipate some weather events, and I’m going to talk about the most important word for dealing with anything, whether you're dealing with COVID, you're dealing with weather, when you're dealing with even getting ready for a big football game, like last night. It's all about being prepared. And I want to assure New Yorkers that this team and thousands of people all across the State are prepared for the anticipated weather events. But I also want to send out some messages to the public as well. We are going to be in a situation where it's somewhat unpredictable.

We are monitoring the weather very, very closely, to see where resources need to be deployed. We're very strategic about this. We are anticipating, for example, coastal flooding on the shores of Long Island, so we're deploying resources there. We are anticipating higher snow events in the North Country, Watertown area, all the way over to Western New York, so we’re deploying resources there.

We're making sure that the utilities are ready. As we've seen before, weather events, high wind, up to 45 miles an hour. Compiled with snow and ice can lead to power lines going down, and literally paralyzing communities and homes, or people lose power at a time when the temperatures are plummeting. That is a crisis situation for families, especially for moms and dads with little kids. I'm saying right now: prepare for the worst. Have enough food, have enough batteries in your flashlights, be prepared for what could be happening this event, or other snow events, as we're still in the early months of winter, but that's in your own home.

What we're talking about and encouraging people to do, if you have any travel to do for this holiday weekend, please do it today. The earlier hours before this all starts up this evening, because overnight it's going to be very unpredictable. And with the darkness and ice on the roads and high winds, this could be a very dangerous situation. And we only have to look back at the images of what happened in Virginia not that long ago, when people found themselves without food and water, and their phones charged for literally 20, 30 hours on the road stranded.

And we saw that, we know that can't happen in New York, because New Yorkers are prepared. So if you have to travel overnight during the storm, we really hope you don't, please stay home. But if your work requires you to be out or you have to be somewhere, make sure that you are fortified even in your own vehicle, with food and water and whatever else you may need, including blankets and extra clothing. So this is about being prepared. I do want to say that, and I'll turn quickly to how we're handling the pandemic right now. What I see in my forecast is, the COVID forecast is improving, looking better. The COVID clouds are parting, but the weather forecast is deteriorating. So that's the situation we have.

I want to talk about very briefly our COVID numbers. And we have seen a major decline in what we're experiencing here. I watched these numbers like a hawk. I know how many people are vaccinated. I know how many people are getting tests, and we had a significant number of people getting tests yesterday.

We had almost 400,000 people tested. And with that, we have a positivity rate at about 13% statewide. That is a dramatic improvement over our statewide average, just a couple of weeks ago of 23%. So what a decline we've seen, but I encourage everyone, it depends on your own stage, your own circumstances. Upstate is still lagging behind what we saw in New York City. New York City numbers are going down. Hospitalizations are going down, but right here in Albany, the numbers are still high and Upstate New York, they’re still high. So the lagging indicator will be the hospitalizations and sadly, more people dying in a couple of days, weeks, but overall, the prognosis, the forecast, for COVID is much brighter than it had been before.

And that is very positive news, is our hospitalizations continue to go down as well. So continue to do what we've been asking you to do: Be prepared for weather, be prepared for COVID. It means getting vaccinated, getting boosted, getting tested. It means, staying home, if you're not feeling good. And our goal is to end to protect the health of New Yorkers, protect the health of our economy, and also make sure that our children continue in schools.

So you'll get more specifics from our dream team right here. And I cannot think of better partners at my side as we forge forward for dealing with whatever comes our way and let New Yorkers know they have the best and the brightest looking out for them 24 hours a day, as well as their incredible teams, their crews, these are the hardest working men and women across the state of New York, because they are on call, they're the ones when people are hunkering down in the safety of their homes, they are out on the roads. It is dangerous for them as well. And they always show up, and I want to thank the men and women of the DOT and Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and the countless others. The thruway authority teams, our MTA workers, everybody who shows up when we need them the most. And as the leader of the state, I'm grateful for their public service as all New Yorkers should be. So let me open up to Commissioner Jackie Bray and give a little more insight into the weather, the forecast and what we are anticipating over the next 24 hours. Commissioner Bray.

Commissioner Bray: Thank you, Governor. As the governor said, we're expecting snow to begin from south to north around 7:00 PM tonight. Our major concern in the upstate region is the rate of fall. It's possible that we'll see one to three inches an hour across Western and Upstate New York. That's the type of intensity of snowfall in which we'd asked folks to not be on the road.

As the Governor said, gusts of wind up to 45 miles an hour. In terms of total accumulation, we're expecting a foot to about 18 inches across Western New York, the Finger Lakes and North Country, about eight to 12 inches across Central New York on the Southern Tier. Six to eight inches across the Mohawk Valley, two to six in the Capital Region, and then less than an inch in New York City for New York City and Long Island, this will largely be around. It might start out as snow, but it will turn very quickly into a rain event. And as the Governor said, on Long Island, we do expect, particularly given the South Easterly winds, to see some minor to moderate coastal flooding, where people are used to flooding.

In addition to what Commissioner Dominguez will talk about in terms of how we're managing the roads. We've got 7,000 personnel out with our utility companies ready to restore, maintain and restore power. And the MTA has banned empty tractor trailers beginning tonight in the overnight on their bridges. And with that, I will turn it back. Okay.

Commissioner Dominguez: Good morning, Governor. So the Department of Transportation has been closely monitoring the situation with regard to this snow and ice event across the state. And we're prepared to respond with more than 3,400 operators and supervisors statewide. And we're really here to help our fellow New Yorkers make sure that we get through this storm together, safely. Across the state, all of the affected locations are going to remain staffed by our personnel, 24/7. We're going to have operations running around the clock for this event, whether that's making sure that our equipment is prepared, our mechanics are in place, working around the clock to make sure that the equipment is there, ready and operating across the state.

Our DOT staff is also equipped to deal with any kind of weather that comes our way. And I know that along with our thruway teams, we've got, statewide, approximately 4,081 operations personnel ready for this event, we've got about 2,177 plows that will be deployed and about 389 loaders. Plus, tow plows and other snow equipment that we need. The Capital Region, obviously, we've got our equipment here. You've got a good taste of that in this location, our crews are dedicated. They very much take pride in the work that they do. we truly do have an elite snow fighting force here in the state of New York, and are looking forward to this event, and making sure that we keep people safe, make sure that the roads stay safe and open. It really is our top priority to make sure that emergency vehicles and the like can get through. Snow operations is really the core of our mission. And we want to make sure that a maximum effort is put forward for this event.

So we really strategically as the Governor alluded to, made sure that we deploy resources in parts of the state, that we're going to see the heaviest snowfalls. So we're adjusting our personnel across the state, to meet that demand. Our plow operators, as I said, are going to work around the clock. A couple of quick safety messages for folks, I just want to remind: motorists drive slowly. Please drive slowly. Our plows are going about 35 miles an hour, and it takes between one and two hours for a snowplow to actually complete the entire beat that they're responsible for, before it actually gets back to its original point and destination.

So if you see a plow in front of you on the roadway, please, please acknowledge that the plow is very large. It's there for your safety. Don't try and go around the plow. It is a hazardous condition, if you should try and do so. That's why we tell motorists, it's really wise not to pass a plow. Keep your distance, be safe, don't crowd the plow. And check 511, if you're going to be out and about today, as the governor referred, please get out early if you have to do anything on the roadways. Otherwise, we encourage you to stay off the roadways. Starting this evening, our variable messaging signs across the state will be giving motorists directions, safety messages and the like, but again, please be safe and be careful and DOT will do all we can to make sure the roads stay safe and open for everybody. Thank you.

Governor Hochul: Thank you, Commissioners. And before I take a couple of questions, a point of personal privilege here, I do want to congratulate the Buffalo Bills for a stunning victory last night, and to the fans, it was just incredible to see the excitement in the crowds, and they never gave up. And so, the 13th, man and woman came through once again and really showed that resilient spirit of a Western New Yorkers. But the entire state is behind New York's team as we head into the continuation of the playoff season. So very good news, also good news on the COVID front. The numbers are continuing to head down, but take it seriously. Upstate is still not out of the woods yet, but it's going to get there, and that is something we've at all looking forward to. And the weather: just be careful, be smart and protect yourselves and your families. And let's do the right thing. Get through this together. So, any questions? All right. Thank you for coming out, everyone.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640