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Hochul urges New Yorkers to prepare as state braces for heavy rain, flooding & strong winds


Mon, Jan 8th 2024 04:45 pm

Wind gusts of 50-60 mph possible across Western New York, with gusts of 70 mph possible along lakes Erie and Ontario

√ Says New Yorkers should prepare for power outages and avoid unnecessary travel

Gov. Kathy Hochul urges New Yorkers to prepare as a storm system with heavy rain and very strong winds will likely cause flooding and power outages throughout the state beginning Tuesday and lasting through Wednesday.

Her team said, “Forecasts are calling for the system to begin with snow, but then quickly transition to rain, except in higher elevations. A widespread 2-4 inches of rain is expected to cause snow melt and flooding south of the Capital Region, especially in portions of the Hudson Valley, which received up to 18 inches of snow over the weekend. Additionally, there is a high risk of power outages as the system is expected to produce wind gusts of 50-60 mph across New York City, Long Island, Western New York, Central New York and the North Country, with gusts of 70 mph possible along the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The North Country may also see up to a foot of snow, especially in higher elevations.

“New Yorkers should begin preparing for impacts now, ensure they and their loved ones are prepared, and closely monitor their local forecasts throughout the duration of the event.”

Hochul said, “After the weekend weather brought snow across our state, a new storm threatens to cause substantial flooding and gale-force winds – posing a risk of power outages and creating unsafe travel conditions. I have directed state agencies to monitor the storm closely as it unfolds, and they are prepared to work with our local partners as needed. I ask all New Yorkers to please take caution and keep track of weather and travel information in your area.”

The National Weather Service has already issued a number of watches and warnings for high winds and flooding throughout the state. For a complete listing of weather alerts and forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website at https://alerts.weather.gov. New Yorkers are also encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts by subscribing to NY Alert at https://alert.ny.gov, a free service providing emergency information to a cell phone or computer.

Agency Activities

Per the governor’s office:

•New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has activated the state emergency operations center at Hochul’s direction. It is actively monitoring the weather forecast and coordinating the state's response to the weather event. Office of Emergency Management staff are in contact with local counterparts and are prepared to facilitate requests for assistance. The division is prepared to deploy emergency response assets and shelter supplies from the state's stockpiles. Additionally, swift water rescue teams from the Office of Fire Prevention and Control and partner agencies are being strategically pre-deployed throughout the Hudson Valley and points south.

•New York State Department of Transportation is monitoring weather conditions and prepared to respond with more than 3,720 supervisors and operators. All field staff are available to fully engage and respond. Staff can be configured into any type of response crews that are needed (flood response, chipper, load and haul, sewer jet, cut and toss, traffic signal, etc.). Crews are checking and clearing drainage structures to make sure they are free of debris and clogs. All residencies in impacted locations will remain staffed for 24/7 operations with operators, supervisors and mechanics throughout the duration of the event and priority cleanup operations.

Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 1,624 large plow trucks
  • 149 medium-duty plows
  • 51 tow plows
  • 37 snowblowers
  • 343 large loaders
  • 77 tracked and wheeled excavators
  • 84 chippers
  • 20 graders
  • 12 vacuum trucks with sewer jets
  • 12 tree bucket trucks

For real-time travel information, motorists can call 511; or visit https://www.511ny.org or the mobile site at m.511ny.org, New York state's official traffic and travel information source.

•Thruway Authority staff is closely monitoring the weather forecast, proactively clearing storm drains of snow and debris, and inspecting rock slopes and other areas sensitive to heavy rains. The Thruway Authority is ready to respond with 700 operators and supervisors available statewide and checking equipment such as small to medium plow/dump trucks, medium-sized excavators, large loaders, vacuum trucks, portable pumps, chainsaws, brush chippers and other equipment.

Variable message signs and social media are utilized to alert motorists of weather conditions on the thruway.

The Thruway Authority encourages 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 information, live traffic cameras, and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert emails and follow @ThruwayTraffic on X for the latest traffic conditions along the thruway.

•New York State Department of Public Service: Utility companies regulated by the Department of Public Service have approximately 8,300 workers available statewide to engage in repair and restoration efforts for the latest winter weather system. This includes the following additional external contract FTEs:

  • Con Edison/O&R – 785 external contract line workers and 50 contract tree workers
  • National Grid – 1,000 external contract line workers
  • NYSEG – 800 external contract line workers and 200 contract tree workers
  • Central Hudson – 115 external contract line workers
  • PSEG LI – 350 external contract line workers

DPS staff will track utilities' work throughout the event and ensure utility companies shift appropriate staffing to regions that experience the greatest impact.

If a service is interrupted, visit the DPS utility service interruptions website for tips.

DPS staff will track utilities' work throughout the event and ensure utility companies shift appropriate staffing to regions that experience the greatest impact.

If service is interrupted, visit the DPS utility service interruptions website for tips.

•The New York State Police is monitoring weather conditions and is prepared to deploy additional troopers as needed. All State Police four-wheel-drive and specialized vehicles, including airboats and utility-terrain vehicles, are staged and ready for immediate response, and all emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.

•New York State Department of Environmental Conservation emergency management staff, environmental conservation police officers, forest rangers and regional staff remain on alert and continue to monitor the developing situation and weather forecasts. All available assets are positioned to assist with any emergency response.

DEC reminds those responsible for the large-scale removal and disposal of snow to follow best management practices to help prevent flooding and reduce the potential for pollutants like salt, sand, oils, trash and other debris in snow from affecting water quality. Disposal of snow in local creeks and streams can create ice dams, which may cause flooding in nearby areas. Public and private snow removal operators should be aware of these safety issues during and after winter storms. Additional information is available at https://extapps.dec.ny.gov/docs/water_pdf/togs5111new.pdf.

•New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation: Park Police and park personnel are on alert and closely monitoring weather conditions and impacts. Response equipment is being fueled, tested and prepared for storm response use. Park visitors should check https://parks.ny.gov or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.

Safety Tips – Flooding/Planning

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

√ Keep your vehicle fueled or charged. 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.

Travel Safety

√ Flooding and damaging winds can make traveling dangerous.

√ Never attempt to drive on a flooded road – go another way. Remember: “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” Six inches of swiftly moving water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle or knock you off your feet if walking. Do not underestimate the power of fast-moving water. Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car, and water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge. If water begins to rise rapidly around you in your car, abandon the vehicle immediately. If water is rising inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof. Do not drive around road barriers.

Power Outages – Planning

√ If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem – check with your physician or pharmacist.

√ If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving an inch of space inside each one. This will help keep food cold if the power goes out.

√ Plan to have an alternative cooking source, such as a camp stove or outdoor grill. Follow appropriate safety rules for its use outside the residence.

√ Consider buying a generator and follow the rules for using it outside the residence. Before installing a generator, be sure to properly disconnect from your utility electrical service. If possible, have your generator installed by a qualified electrician.

√ Have extra blankets, coats, hats and gloves on hand to keep warm.

√ If you have a computer, back up files and operating systems regularly. Turn off all computers, monitors and other devices when they are not being used.

√ If you have an electric garage door opener, locate the manual release level, and learn how to operate.

√ If you have a telephone instrument or system that requires electricity to work, plan for alternate communication such as a standard telephone handset, cellular telephone, or radio.

What to Do If the Power Goes Out

√ 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. Check with your utility to determine area repair schedules.

√ Check to see if neighbors and those with access or functional needs have power.

√ 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.

√ 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.

√ Close off rooms you do not need.

To report an electric outage, call:

  • Central Hudson: 800-527-2714
  • Con Edison: 800-752-6633
  • National Grid: 800-867-5222
  • NYSEG: 800-572-1131
  • O&R: 877-434-4100
  • PSEG-LI: 800-490-0075
  • RG&E: 800-743-1701

Heating Safety

√ Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove, or portable space heaters.

√ When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc., always make sure you have proper ventilation. Always follow manufacturer's instructions.

√ Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces.

√ Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors and make sure they work.

√ If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips: Follow the manufacturers' instructions. Use only the correct fuel for your unit. Refuel outdoors only and only when the unit is cool. Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from furniture and other flammable objects. When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.

For more winter safety tips, visit https://dhses.ny.gov/safety. For all non-emergency service needs in New York before, during or after a storm, call 211 or visit 211nys.org.

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) provides leadership, coordination, and support to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate disasters and other emergencies. For more information, follow @NYSDHSES on Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly known as Twitter) or visit dhses.ny.gov.

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