December 12, 2021
Albany, NY

Video, B-Roll, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers on State's Response to Damaging Winds, Power Outages Saturday

Video, B-Roll, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers on State's Response to Damaging Winds, Power Outages Saturday

Nearly 300,000 Lost Power at Height of Storm That Saw Hurricane-Force Winds Up to 77 MPH Impact Western New York Overnight

10,000 State and Out-of-State Utilities Have Restored Power to More 200,000 Customers; 97,000 Customers Still Without Power

Governor Hochul: "I want you to know our team is experienced. We're readyI just wanted to show that we are on the ground here. This is personal to me. It's my hometown. And I want to thank everybody who's responded here."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul updated New Yorkers on the State's response to hurricane-force winds that impacted most of the State overnight and knocked out power for nearly 300,000 at the height of the event. Some locations, including the City of Dunkirk, Niagara Falls Airport, and the City of Buffalo, experienced more than 70 mph winds during the storm. Nearly 10,000 State and out-of-state utility crews will continue today to work on restoration to the remaining 97,000 customers still without power.

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 will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

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

Hello everyone. Back here in Western New York unexpectedly, but always glad to be home. I'm actually at Hoak's on the lake, a place that I spent many, many years, and actually celebrations here with my family even 27 years ago when I had the privilege of representing this community and what we see out here is an indication of what has happened all over our state is again, Mother Nature is devastation, and I want to thank everyone who responded actually preemptively.

Thanks to my state operations team led by Kathryn Garcia. Thanks to our emergency services team led by Jackie Bray who joined me here from Albany, as well as our partners on the ground representing the county, County Executive Mark Poloncarz is represented here today, as well as with commissioner Bill Geary, the county Department of Public Works. As well as our supervisor, Jim Shaw, who lives down here on the waterfront.

And Joan Kesner, who also served on the town board with me for many years, who knows this community as well as I do. I have walked the streets of Hoover Beach countless times. And again, to see the people who've become my friends devastated once again, three years in a row to deal with the effects of a 100-year storm.

It's hard. People are exhausted, it's too much. And I just spoke with the County Executive PJ Wendel down in Chautauqua County to assess what is going on there all the way on up to Plattsburgh. We have had a widespread storm, you saw the effects of what happened in other parts of our country, and we've extended our sympathies to the Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and offered all the assistance of the state of New York as a result of the tornadoes that resulted in possibly upwards of 100 people lost their lives.

So, this is a wide-scale weather event. However, here on the waterfront, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, we always get hit so hard, and that is why we're going to continue building back resiliency, having to build projects that will withstand mother nature to the extent possible, to give hope to these communities that have been so battered every time there's a major storm.

So, I want to thank everyone involved and let you know basically what we've assessed here. And we already know that this caused widespread damage down trees, down electrical wires throughout Western New York, loss of power, some flooding, this community, according to our supervisor here experienced 77 mile an hour winds, which is quite extraordinary.

The brunt of that scene is particularly along the waterfront here. Dunkirk and Genesee counties experienced winds of upwards of 80 miles an hour. Other areas along Lake Ontario, 60 miles an hour. We have not seen significant flooding other than these very close to the waterfront homes. I do know Chautauqua County, the waterfront communities have also been hit hard but inland there has not been a significant amount of damage.

But the high waters have surged into the Buffalo waterfront, the Niagara River. Right now, the main problem is power outages, nearly 100,000 homes lost power during the height of this. Over 200,000 already were restored as of just a short time ago. We have 97,000 people still without power, without power during a very cold time. And these are the individuals we want to make sure are protected, they know there's shelters available. We have a list of sites that people can go here in Western New York. And where teams are working around the clock. Again, we deployed people in advance in anticipation of this. I declared a state of emergency for this region.

Actually, before the winds really got strong yesterday afternoon, we have 8,300 workers available around the clock. What they'll be doing now is damage assessment, response, and restoration efforts all across the state. Combined crews of NYSEG, RG&E, utility companies, as well as out of state personnel that we've brought in.

So, if you've lost power and you need dry ice or bottled water, we have regions we can list for you and provide that. But also let people know we took some precautions. We were ready for this, and we banned tractor trailers and box trucks on the Skyway yesterday, as well as empty trucks along the three-way. Utility companies brought in 1300 people from out of state, as well as though I can give you all the numbers of dump trucks and excavators and bucket crews. Other than, let me just say that we have a lot of people on the ground ready to respond.

It's not the first time we've dealt with this. As a local town official, I can't tell you how many times I had to go out and survey damage like this all the way on up to my time as Lieutenant Governor, where I was in charge of storm responses and operation centers here in Western New York. So, we've been through this before. I want you to know our team is experienced. We're ready. And I also want to just commend this community. Those who took precautions and stayed home and made sure they're not in their cars. Anytime you go out in a vehicle during a high wind event, you are at risk of being hit by a falling tree or down power wires.

And I'm afraid we did have one loss of life up near Plattsburgh. A gentleman whose car was hit by a tree and he did not survive that event and our hearts go out to him and his family. So, I just wanted to show that we are on the ground here. This is personal to me. It's my hometown. And I want to thank everybody who's responded here. In particular, I want to thank, Jim Shaw, who's been an extraordinary leader of this community. I thank him as he finishes out his term, I don't know if he expected something like this, but mother nature's one last parting gift to Jim Shaw, perhaps. And I also want to thank Department of transportation, Frank Cirillo our Western New York coordinator.

I don't know if Kevin Trask is here, but our emergency coordinator from the town of Hamburg is here. And lastly, let me thank the Hoak family for not giving up. I have been here so many times. Literally came here for many interviews at the media, seeing the waves come crashing over the top. I understand they hit the roof this time, is that right? Hit the roof and this is the most resilient family in the history of Hamburg. The Hoak's keep coming back year after year after year. And for that, for their good beef on weck and chicken wings, we are grateful.

So lastly, we also wish the very best to our favorite hometown team. I stopped and visited many homeowners in Hoover beach. They are strong. They're ready for what they have to do. They're involved in cleanup. They hugged me for jumping out there and I actually got hit with a very big wave, so I'm going to dry out in a little bit. But I just wanted to let them know that we've not forgotten them. And every one of them had their Bills paraphernalia, their jackets, or hats on. So this is a community of great optimism and great strength. And I want to thank everyone involved in our response here. Our supervisor, Jim Shaw.

Jim Shaw: Well, bless you, Governor. We are grateful for your leadership and your devotion to the well-being of this community. We are all very, very proud of you and very grateful for the concerns that you address through your caring behavior. And I know that in the future, we can build a mitigation program that will help our community. Long-term benefit to shoreline property owners throughout the expanse of Hamburg. We've suffered greatly, but we have a champion in you. I'm so grateful for your friendship and your leadership on behalf of all of us in Hamburg. God bless you and come back and see us soon and often for fish fry and wings, to all of you for your help, particularly the state DOT, Sean Crotty, our emergency dispatch person, our highway department people were wonderful last night, our water rescue folks, our volunteer fire companies. God bless you all. We'll get through this, Merry Christmas to everybody. Thank you so much, Governor. Thank you again.

Governor Hochul: At this time, I'd like to bring up Jackie Bray. Who's brand new on the job. She is the head of the Department of Emergency Services and Homeland security. She comes with impeccable credentials, not the least of which is that she once worked for the National Weather Service in Washington. So she is a true blue weather tracker. And she can talk a little about her experience, but I, I feel very confident with her on the ground here with all of us and you'll see her often as needed. And I do think I want to make corrections. I think I said there was a 100,000 people without power. That was just in this area now, was 300,000 statewide is to make sure that that is correct. Jackie Bray, Commissioner.

Jackie Bray: Thank you, Governor. I think you hit all of the major numbers. What I mostly want to say as the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services stood up storm preparation 72 hours ago, working with our partners at Thruway, the Department of Transportation, all of our utility companies and all of our local leaders. We are on the ground now. We won't leave until everyone's got power back. As the Governor said, we've got about 97,000 people without power right now, the majority of, the plurality of those are in Monroe, 22,000. 16,000 households here in Erie, 9,500 households in Niagara. So we are on the ground, we are in touch with all the utility companies. We are here to have not only local leaders' backs, but our fellow agency's backs as we get power going. I do want folks to know, we do expect mild weather for the next three days, which is really a blessing. We expect daytime temperatures in the mid to upper 40s. But those nighttime times will dip into the mid-thirties. So, while we don't expect freezing temperatures, if you are without power, you may be without power beyond today. If you need to seek a warming center, or, get yourself to someplace to stay warm overnight, we are here to help you do that. We'll be distributing lists of warming centers, around this area and, throughout the, throughout the region later today. Thank you.

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