Severe windstorm disrupts many
Cleanups continued Thursday across Niagara County following Wednesday's fierce windstorm that saw gusts exceeding 60 and 70 miles per hour at times. The storm resulted in numerous reports of downed trees and branches, and massive power outages.
Electrical service provider National Grid stated a field force of more than 1,700 service, line and tree workers hit the ground Wednesday and continued to work on Thursday removing trees, replacing poles, assessing damage and restoring power to customers who lost service.
The company has successfully restored power to more than half of the 147,000 upstate New York customers impacted by the damaging winds. Hardest hit was Western New York, where more than 1,100 field workers are focused on assessing damage and restoring power to approximately 71,000 customers who remain without service.
The most severe damage was sustained in areas north and east of Buffalo, especially Niagara, Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming counties. Numerous residents and businesses in the Lewiston, Porter, Youngstown, Ransomville, Wilson and Newfane areas lost power Wednesday, with many still without power on Thursday.
"This was a very severe storm that came with extremely high winds and caused extensive damage to our electricity system," said Melanie Littlejohn, National Grid's New York vice president. "We remain in close contact with local emergency response teams and local officials as we continue our damage assessment to restoration efforts today."
She said National Grid emergency crews follow a time-tested plan to begin restoring service as safely and quickly as conditions allow. Accurate damage surveys, resource assessments and restoration estimates are critical in the preliminary stages of any major weather event. National Grid crews perform damage surveys as soon as possible during and after the weather-related incidents following established safety guidelines.
As damage assessments are underway, National Grid crews are working to clear away hazards such as live, downed lines. The company said the actual cleanup of storm-damaged trees and branches removed from its electric facilities remains the responsibility of the customer or property owner, whether private or municipal.
Next come repairs to main transmission facilities, including towers, poles and high-tension wires that deliver power from generating plants. Recovery work at local substations is also a high priority, because power flows from transmission lines through substations on its way to customers.
Circuits and transformers in neighborhoods and the wires that connect them to homes come next - starting with areas that involve the most customers.
"While waiting for your power to return, please know that we're doing everything we can to restore electric service as quickly as possible," Littlejohn said.
National Grid asks customers to stay alert for electricity service interruptions:
•Keep National Grid's power outage reporting number - 1-800-867-5222 - on hand in case it's needed. In an outage, customers should call this number immediately to expedite restoration.
•If you use a generator to supply power during an outage, be sure to only operate it outdoors. Regardless of ventilation, never operate a generator indoors. Before operating a generator, be sure to disconnect from National Grid's system by shutting off the main breaker, located in the electric service panel. Failure to do this could endanger crews (and your neighbors).
•Never touch downed power lines; always assume they are carrying live electricity. If you see a downed line, report it immediately to National Grid at 1-800-867-5222or your local emergency response organization.
•Keep a number of working flashlights, at least one battery-operated radio, and an extra supply of batteries in your home. A radio is a good way to stay informed, as National Grid keeps news media up-to-date on service restoration efforts.
•In case an outage is prolonged, keep a supply of bottled drinking water handy, along with some canned food and a manual can opener.
For real-time power outage information, online outage reporting, and in-depth storm safety information, visit the "Outage Central" section of the National Grid website, www.nationalgridus.com.