High wind gusts rush through WNY
By David Yarger
On Sunday and parts of Monday, Western New York got hit with yet another storm this winter. No snow or ice to mention, but winds blew through the area at steady speeds in the 40 mile-per-hour range, with gusts up above 70 mph.
The Tribune’s local municipalities – the Town of Wheatfield, Town of Niagara and City of North Tonawanda – all endured the wind’s wrath and had to deal with some damage.
The Tribune reached out to Town of Wheatfield Supervisor Don MacSwan, Town of Niagara Supervisor Lee Wallace and City of North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur Pappas to discuss how their respective municipalities held up during the storm.
Town of Wheatfield
In a brief conversation with MacSwan, he said the town endured a few trees down here and there, including a lightning strike in the early stages of the storm, but nothing too substantial.
In recent Town Board meetings, MacSwan has discussed the town’s emergency preparedness plan, and that received a little test Sunday night.
Residents in the Adams Fire Co. district around Nash Road heading into Amherst and Pendelton were without power for nearly 10 hours, MacSwan said.
After receiving word from Emergency Services Department Director Michael Zarbo, MacSwan said the two opened up the Community Center on the Town Hall campus for residents in need of shelter and heat. MacSwan added that as the coffee was brewing and the center was all set up, power had just been restored in the area, so, even though the power turned back on, the town was prepared to aid its residents.
Additionally, MacSwan said the power outage enabled the town to take advantage of its new notification feature on its website, which keeps residents up to date and informed.
MacSwan also praised the Adams Fire Co. for helping pump out residents’ basements during the storm.
“It was a good test for us,” MacSwan said. “It was nothing too crazy and, to be honest, I expected it to be worse.”
Town of Niagara
Wallace had nothing too intense to report out of the Town of Niagara. While every municipality saw a tree or wire or two down, Wallace said there was a fire possibly related to the weather at an abandoned home, but Niagara Active Hose Fire Co. and Fire Chief Bill Jasper Jr. “did an outstanding job controlling it, especially in that wind. … Jasper Jr. and his men should be commended for their work.”
One of the biggest news pieces coming from the storm came out of the Fashion Outlets Mall campus, where parts of the old Elks Lodge roof blew off. Wallace acknowledged, though, that crews were at the old Elks Monday beginning repair of the roof.
Of the storm, Wallace added in an email, “(There were) no real issues. (It was) kind of boring, but in this case, I like boring!”
City of North Tonawanda
Pappas reported nothing more than a few big trees came down and there were isolated power outages.
Of the trees, Pappas said one hit a roof of a home and another big tree came down near the city cemetery on Payne Avenue. He added that crews took care of clearing the streets of branches and power lines that came down.
Of the power outages, Pappas said most of the city had power other than a few isolated areas, including City Hall. The outage caused a closure of City Hall on Monday.
Pappas said in a phone interview Wednesday that, as of Tuesday, there were five homes reported without power, but he believed it had been restored as of the phone call.
“Overall, there wasn’t a lot of damage,” Pappas said. “All of our firehouses were open for emergency purposes and shelter. We had supplies just in case. Fortunately it didn’t materialize.”