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Cuomo urges caution ahead of storm system that may cause flooding & widespread power outages across state

Press Release

Mon, Apr 13th 2020 11:45 am

Wind gusts may exceed 70 MPH in WNY & Finger Lakes; 20-30 MPH with gusts up to 55 MPH across rest of state

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday urged New Yorkers in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions to take precautions as an approaching storm system is expected to bring high winds and rain starting Sunday night and lasting until Tuesday morning, resulting in possible flooding and widespread power outages.

Wind gusts are forecasted to exceed 70 mph in the central and western parts of the state, with 20-30 mph winds and gusts up to 55 mph elsewhere, including the Capital Region, Lower Hudson, New York City and Long Island coastal areas. He said New Yorkers should pay attention to local weather reports and take steps to ensure their families are protected.

"This storm has the potential to cause widespread power outages across most of New York, and I have directed our state's emergency response assets to be prepared to help our local partners should they need it," Cuomo said. "New Yorkers across the state are heeding our guidance to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this storm makes that call all the more urgent."

On Monday, most of the state will begin the day with rain showers and gusty winds with temperatures ranging from the high 50s to the low 70s. Winds will generally be from the south at 15 to 30 mph with gusts as high as 45 mph in the Long Island and New York City regions, and as high as 70 mph or more in the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions. Rainfall amounts will generally be less than a half inch statewide, with up to two inches possible in the New York City and Long Island regions. 

High wind warnings are in effect beginning Monday over much of Western New York and east of Lake Ontario, including Jefferson County, where wind gusts are expected to exceed 70 mph in some places. Lakeshore flood warnings have also been issued for areas along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. High wind watches have been issued for the remainder of the state. 

For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.

Agency Preparations

•Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation has 3,773 supervisors and operators available statewide prepared to respond. Staffing in most-affected regions is broken down as follows:

  • Finger Lakes: 319 supervisors and operators
  • Western New York: 564 supervisors and operators
  • North Country: 430 supervisors and operators

Staff can be configured into any type of response crew that is needed, including plow, drainage, chipper, load and haul, and cut and toss. The need for resource deployments, including operators, equipment, mechanics and traffic signal technicians will be continually reevaluated throughout the event. Impacted regions will be employing social distancing tactics as appropriate for all response activities.

Regional crews are currently engaged in wind response preparations activities as follows:

√ Wind response tools, including generators, chainsaws, light plants, hand tools, and chippers are being readied and loaded into response trucks for immediate dispatch.

√ Routine patrols are being conducted to maintain awareness of general conditions.

Although flood response activities are not anticipated for this event, appropriate flood preparation activities are also being performed. These activities include inspecting drainage inlets, culverts and other drainage structures – and clearing them of any accumulated debris.

All available flood/wind response equipment is ready to deploy. All affected residency locations will be staffed for 24/7 operation throughout the duration of priority response operations. Mechanic support will be available 24/7 to keep response equipment operational.

Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 1,587 large dump trucks (Finger Lakes: 125, WNY: 213, North Country: 161)
  • 48 loaders w/grapple (Finger Lakes: 7, WNY: 6, North Country: 7)
  • 278 loaders (Finger Lakes: 21, WNY: 39, North Country: 38)
  • 15 vac trucks w/sewer jet (Finger Lakes: 1, WNY: 2, North Country: 1)
  • 31 tracked excavators (Finger Lakes: 4, WNY: 3, North Country: 3)
  • 47 wheeled excavators (Finger Lakes: 5, WNY: 4, North Country: 5)
  • 62 tractor trailers w/ lowboy trailer (Finger Lakes: 7, WNY: 6, North Country: 9)
  • 15 tree crew bucket trucks (Finger Lakes: 1, WNY: 1, North Country: 2)
  • 39 traffic signal trucks (Finger Lakes: 4, WNY: 7, North Country: 2)
  • 78 chippers 10" (min) capacity (Finger Lakes: 8, WNY: 7, North Country: 8)

Thruway Authority

Thruway Authority personnel are actively monitoring the roadway. Variable message signs, highway advisory radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of weather conditions on the Thruway.

The Thruway Authority is also encouraging motorists to download its mobile app, which is available for free on iPhone and Android devices. The app provides motorists direct access to real-time traffic and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert emails, which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway here

Department of Public Service

New York's utilities have approximately 4,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response and restoration across New York. Department of Public Service staff will track the utilities' work throughout the storm event and will ensure the utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to experience the greatest impact.

Department of Environmental Conservation

Department of Environmental Conservation police officers, forest rangers, emergency management staff and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas and infrastructure likely to be impacted by severe weather, including high winds. All available assets, including 13 saw crew teams, are strategically located to assist with tree clearing and response needs. In addition, all available assets are positioned to assist with any emergency response.

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Police and park personnel are on alert and closely monitoring weather conditions and impacts. Park visitors should check www.parks.ny.gov or call ahead for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.

State Police

The Division of State Police has readied assets including all 4x4s, high-axle vehicles and boats for deployment as needed. Troopers have been instructed to remain on high alert, and to closely monitor conditions for problems while on patrol. 

Safety Tips

√ If traveling during heavy rain, please drive with care and keep these safety tips in mind:

Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and go another way.

Do not underestimate the destructive power of fast-moving water. Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car. Water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge.

√ Leave early to avoid being marooned on flooded roads.

√ Follow recommended routes. Do not ignore emergency detours to view flooded areas.

√ As you travel, monitor NOAA Weather Radio and local radio broadcasts for the latest information.

√ Watch for washed-out roads, earth-slides, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and falling or fallen objects.

√ Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges, and low areas.

√ If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.

Prepare for flooding and severe weather:

√ Know the county in which you live and the names of nearby cities. Severe weather warnings are issued on a county basis.

√ Learn the safest route from your home or business to high, safe ground should you have to leave in a hurry.

√ Develop and practice a “family escape” plan and identify a meeting place if family members become separated.

√ Make an itemized list of all valuables including furnishings, clothing and other personal property. Keep the list in a safe place.

√ Stockpile emergency supplies of canned food, medicine and first aid supplies and drinking water. Store drinking water in clean, closed containers

√ Plan what to do with your pets.

√ Have a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries and emergency cooking equipment available.

√ Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to pump fuel for several days. Have a small disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.

√ Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.

√ Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency waterproofing.

Have disaster supplies on hand, including:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Checkbook, cash, credit cards, ATM cards

If experiencing a power outage, New Yorkers should:

•Turn off or disconnect major appliances and other equipment, e.g., computers, in case of a momentary power surge that can damage these devices. Keep one light turned on so you know when power returns. Consider using surge protectors wherever you use electronic equipment.

•Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage and listen to local broadcasts for official information. For a list of utilities in New York, visit the New York State Department of Public Service Check to see if your neighbors have power. Check on people with access or functional needs.

•Use only flashlights for emergency lighting – candles pose the risk of fire.

•Keep refrigerators and freezer doors closed – most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.

•Do not use a charcoal grill indoors and do not use a gas stove for heat – they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide.

•In cold weather, stay warm by dressing in layers and minimizing time spent outdoors. Be aware of cold stress symptoms (i.e., hypothermia) and seek proper medical attention if symptoms appear.

•If you are in a tall building, take the stairs and move to the lowest level of the building. If trapped in an elevator, wait for assistance. Do not attempt to force the doors open. Remain patient – there is plenty of air and the interior of the elevator is designed for passenger safety.

•Remember to provide fresh, cool water for your pets.

•Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion and dangerous driving conditions. If you must drive during a blackout, remember to obey the four-way stop rule at intersections with non-functioning traffic signals.

•Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not be working.

For more safety tips, visit the DHSES website at www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/index.cfm.

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