Submitted by National Grid
UPDATE: As of 11 a.m., the company has restored service to 89,500 of more than 100,000 impacted Western New York customers. National Grid’s field force has grown to more than 2,000 restoration experts who are blanketing the region. That number includes support from National Grid crews from across New York and Massachusetts, as well as mutual aid from other New York utilities, and contractors traveling to the region from as far away as Canada, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma.
Due to the unprecedented severity of this storm, the company expects outages in the hardest-hit areas to last more than 48 hours after the storm subsides. The company’s expanded field force will “continue to work around the clock to restore power as quickly and safely as possible in challenging conditions.”
A list of warming centers can be found by clicking on the warming shelter icon on National Grid's Outage Central map. Additionally, in compliance with New York Public Service Commission requirements, National Grid will distribute free dry ice and bottled water from noon to 4 p.m. today at Niagara Falls Fire Department Station 8, 320 Hyde Park Blvd. Customers are asked to bring a cooler or paper grocery bags to transport dry ice to their homes. Company personnel will provide information about its proper handling.
National Grid is partnering with a multiagency coalition of state and local emergency response organizations to identify and prioritize areas for road clearance to facilitate power restoration and emergency response after a blizzard slammed Western New York over the weekend. The group began executing its strategy Sunday, where conditions were safe to do so. Members include the New York Department of Public Service, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the New York State Thruway, the Department of Transportation, New York State Police, the City of Buffalo’s police and fire departments, and the National Guard, among others.
As a result, National Grid expects to begin to gain access to previously impassable roads to reach damaged infrastructure so that cleanup, hazard removal, repairs and restoration can take place.
The unprecedented storm resulted in hundreds of toppled trees, tree limbs and wires, extensive equipment damage and frozen substations. As of 3 p.m., the company has restored service to more than nearly 68,000 of the more than 96,000 impacted Western New York customers.
“The welfare of our customers, many of whom have been without electricity for more than 24 hours, is our concern and priority,” said Rudy Wynter, National Grid’s New York president. “Throughout this devastating storm we, like so many first responders, have been challenged to reach people in need and the areas that need the most attention. We’ve bolstered our regional field force, which now totals more than 2,000 power restoration experts, and we’re ready to help our customers who remain without service as soon as weather and road conditions improve and allow us to get to them. We’re grateful for our partnership with our elected leaders, including Gov. Hochul, County Executive Poloncarz, and Mayor Brown. I also want to extend my deep appreciation to the many local and state agencies and first responders who are coordinating access to areas that are difficult to reach so that we can safely assess conditions, restore power, and complete our mission of bringing service back for our customers.”
The “bomb cyclone” that created the blizzard left the most damage in Erie, Niagara and Orleans counties. While blizzard conditions and winds have lessened, unsafe travel conditions persist across the region, including impassable and closed roads. National Grid will provide detailed restoration estimates for customers who remain without service as soon as thorough damage assessments are completed.
The company expects that some outages in the hardest-hit areas, such as the cities of Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Batavia, and Village of Albion, could last longer than 48 hours after the storm subsides and roads are cleared. 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, because the backyards can’t be accessed by utility vehicles.
In the meantime, crews will continue to work around the clock to restore power as quickly and safely as possible in challenging conditions.
A list of warming centers can be found by clicking on the warming shelter icon on National Grid's Outage Central map.
When it is safe to do so, the company’s first priority is to ensure the safety of our customers and our 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.
Click here to learn more about the company’s restoration process.
Estimated Restoration Times
√ In the early stages of a storm, 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 we deenergize lines to make conditions safe for repairs. Additionally, there could be new outages that occur as the strong, damaging winds and snow continue.
√ Outage Central reminder: Our 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 our “Report or Check Outage” page.
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.
√ If a power outage occurs, customers can notify National Grid online to expedite restoration.
√ 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 our crews and your 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.
√ Please use caution when driving near emergency responders and crews restoring power.
√ Be sure to check on elderly family members, neighbors and others who may need assistance during an outage.
Safety Near Downed Power Lines
√ Stay away from downed power lines and wires; use caution if one is nearby, and always assume that they are carrying live electricity.
√ Never touch a person or an object that is in contact with a downed line, as electricity can pass through to you.
√ Take caution when approaching fallen trees, which could have power lines caught in them.
√ Remember that water can conduct electricity. If you see a line down in a puddle or flooded area, avoid contact with the water to prevent risk of shock.
Learn more about downed power line safety at our website.
The company also offers the following important safety reminders for customers and snow removal contractors who are clearing snow near electricity and gas equipment.
Snow and ice accumulation on roofs can place a burden on electricity service wires – also known as the weatherhead – that bring energy into the home.
These wires are live and are a potential hazard to anyone attempting to clear snow.
As snow and ice are removed, inspect the connection point from a safe distance to be sure that it hasn’t been pulled away from the house, which would create a potential fire hazard.
National Grid also reminds home and building owners to be especially cautious as they work to clear snow and ice by following these safety recommendations:
√ Stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines at all times.
√ Keep all ladders, shovels, roof rakes and other devices well clear of any lines coming from the street to the structure, regardless of the material the equipment is made from. In extremely wet conditions, even wood can conduct electricity.
√ Start clearing snow from the opposite end of the roof from the service point where electricity is delivered.
√ The buildup of ice and snow around or over natural gas meters, regulators and pipes can pose a serious safety risk. Ice and snow falling from a roof can damage gas meters or service connections to customers’ homes or businesses, resulting in potential gas leaks. Customers should take immediate action if a natural gas leak is suspected:
Get out – All occupants should leave the house immediately. Do not use the telephone, light switches or automatic garage door openers for any reason.
Call us – After leaving the house and reaching a safe environment, call National Grid’s 24-hour gas emergency number: 1-800-892-2345.
Stay out – Don’t return to your home until National Grid tells you it is safe to do so.
√ Cleared snow should never be piled around vents. A blocked vent can lead to the buildup of deadly carbon monoxide.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu, and can include headaches, weakness, confusion, chest tightness, skin redness, dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, heart fluttering or loss of muscle control. If you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home, immediately go outside and breathe deeply. Then call 9-1-1.
√ When clearing snow, customers and snow-removal contractors should be aware of the location of natural gas equipment to avoid coming into contact with meters, hitting outside gas risers, or piling snow around vents mounted on the outside of buildings, which can cause the dilemma illustrated below:
Stay Informed and Connected
√ Customers with active electricity accounts who text REG to 64743 can have personalized alerts sent to them via text, email or phone call when we detect an outage on their property.
√ Customers also can text OUT to 64743 to report an outage.
√ 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.
√ Customers can read the latest company news, check outage status and report an outage by using the National Grid app.