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National Grid field force assessing damage, restoring power; 80 percent back in business

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Mon, Feb 25th 2019 05:05 pm

Powerful windstorm continues to impact Western New York

Company urges ‘safety first’ after 75 mph wind gusts brought down trees, power lines

A National Grid field force of more than 1,500 workers continues to be active across Western New York, removing downed wires, trees, tree limbs, broken poles and other hazards, focusing on public safety and restoring power to customers impacted by the ongoing, powerful wind storm. The dangerous wind conditions are expected to continue throughout the day, bringing the potential for further power interruptions in the region.

As of 3 p.m., National Grid has restored power to more than 80 percent of the 84,000 Western New York customers impacted by the storm. Given the significant damage to equipment and trees, combined with new outages from the sustained storm, the company expects 90 percent of impacted customers to have power restored by midnight tomorrow. Remaining customers, primarily in the hardest hit neighborhoods of Buffalo, Niagara Falls and surrounding areas, will be restored Wednesday. Crews continue to work around the clock to restore power as quickly and safely as possible in challenging conditions.

“This storm has been extremely damaging to our electricity system,” said Ken Kujawa, National Grid’s Western New York regional director. “We’re seeing hundreds of cases of downed wires in addition to broken poles and uprooted trees on our power lines. Cleanup, reconstruction and restoration will be labor-intensive and time consuming.”

Kujawa said an additional challenge to restoring electricity service in many Buffalo-area neighborhoods is that power is delivered by poles and wires in backyards. This type of restoration requires line workers to manually carry in repair equipment and ladders, because the backyards can’t be accessed by utility vehicles.

“Our crews will continue to be out there in full force bringing service back to customers as quickly as possible,” he said.

The Restoration Process

The company’s first priority is to ensure the safety of customers and crews by clearing away dangers such as live, downed power lines. Next come repairs to the facilities that serve the largest number of customers, such as main transmission facilities, followed by recovery work at local substations and repairs to neighborhood circuits, transformers and service wires.

National Grid continues to work closely with local officials to coordinate restoration efforts.

Customers are reminded to remain aware of potential safety hazards such as damaged trees, particularly broken limbs that haven’t yet fallen to the ground. As always, customers are reminded to keep safety a priority by avoiding downed wires. All wires should be considered live and should be immediately reported to National Grid at 1-800-867-5222 or by calling 911.

National Grid is offering customers dry ice and bottled water at the following locations tonight from 6-9 p.m. and tomorrow, beginning at 9 a.m. Customers are asked to bring a small cooler or shopping bag to transport their dry ice home.

Harlem Road Community Center, 4255 Harlem Road, Amherst

Gloria J. Parks Community Center, 3242 Main St., Buffalo

Estimated Restoration Times

•In the early stages of storm cleanup, restoration times on National Grid’s “Outage Central” site may be listed as “assessing conditions.” This is because debris, such as trees, tree limbs and downed wires, must be cleared away so that infrastructure damage can be assessed and restoration plans can be executed.

•It's normal for outage numbers and ETRs to fluctuate. The numbers can go up and down as crews de-energize lines to make conditions safe for repairs. Additionally, there could be new outages that occur that are separate from the storm-related outages.

•Once restoration is completed, National Grid crews will remain in the field for a number of days as storm cleanup continues. The company urges drivers to use extreme caution as they approach work areas, to ensure the safety of utility and other storm-response personnel.

•“Outage Central” Reminder: The “Outage Central” page shows the estimated time of restoration for communities and reflects the estimated time for the last customer in that community to have power restored. The most accurate way for customers to check on the power restoration estimate for their specific address is to log into the report or check an outage page.

•Any customer who remains without power when their neighbors have been restored should call 1-800-867-5222.

Electricity & Generator Safety

•If a power outage occurs, customers can notify National Grid online to expedite restoration.

•Never touch downed power lines; always assume they are carrying live electricity. Downed lines should be immediately reported to National Grid at 1-800-867-5222 or by calling 911.

•Generators used to supply power during an outage must be operated outdoors to prevent the buildup of deadly carbon monoxide. 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 both crews and one’s neighbors.

Customers who depend on electrically powered life support equipment, such as a respirator, should register as a life support customer by calling National Grid at 1-800-642- 4272. In a medical emergency, always dial 911.

•Keep a number of working flashlights and an extra supply of batteries in your home and be sure to charge all electronic devices.

•Drive carefully and use caution when driving near any crews working to restore power.

• Be sure to check on elderly family members, neighbors and others who may need assistance during an outage.

Western New York Warming Shelters

  • Holy Cross, 412 Niagara St., Buffalo
  • Harbor House, 241 Genesee St., Buffalo
  • St. Luke’s, 325 Walden Ave., Buffalo
  • Lackawanna Senior Center, 230 Martin Road, Lackawanna
  • Hoover Beach Community Center, Hamburg

Stay informed and connected:

•For real-time power outage information, online outage reporting and in-depth storm safety information, visit National Grid’s “Outage Central” website. Customers who create an online profile also can sign up for email alerts.

•To receive text message alerts and updates from National Grid, text the word STORM to NGRID (64743). Online and text alert services can be started and stopped at the customer’s request.

•Visit www.nationalgridus.com and the company’s social media sites.

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