The weather has been going mad. And the Earth too, remember the rare Northeast tremor felt this summer? The latest dose of unusual activity is the unheard of late October snowstorm that dumped around 6 to 8 inches on most of Rockland and up to two feet in upstate New York and New England.
This storm created unusual problems for O&R and Highway Departments around the county because the wet snow on trees that still have a covering of leaves was too much and caused thousands of limbs and branches to break. Jimmy Dean of the Orangetown Highway Department and Wayne Ballard of Clarkstown, both said this storm caused probably more limb damage than any other they remember.
Dean said almost 20 percent of the town’s 600+ roads were closed at peak, while Ballard said about 105 out of 1,500 Clarkstown roads were closed at the peak of the storm’s carnage, and dozens of roads were still partially obstructed. Highway Departments had the additional challenge of fitting their town’s snow plows on the fly, as many of the trucks used as plows were currently set up for leaf removal. The original forecasts for the storm were for a long period of rain followed by snow, but the storm ended up as mostly all snow, another surprise for local governments.
And with limb damage, comes power outages. Close to 40,000 O&R customers were without power at the height of the power outage, and as of Wednesday, about half were back online. Originally O&R estimated that by Wednesday night 90 percent of customers would have power restored, but the dangers of down limbs have presented a unique challenge to the company. They now predict that by midnight Thursday night, that power will be restored to 90 percent of customers.
And as of Tuesday night, if you drove down Route 210 in Stony Point after dark you would likely see… nothing. The power had been out on Rt. 210 since the winter storm hit. Even the traffic lights have been dark for days. Immediately after the storm, down tree limbs could be seen all over the area on just about every tree-lined road.
The mass outages are a familiar horror for many who lived without power for days following Hurricane Irene.
Govorner Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency to help deal with Mother Nature’s sneak attack. On Saturday he said, “As heavy snow, ice, and rain fall on parts of the state, we have mobilized the resources of state agencies to ensure the safety of residents and a timely clean-up,” Cuomo also added a warning that, “the roads are slippery and many trees and power lines have come down, so I urge motorists to avoid driving in areas affected by the storm and encourage all New Yorkers to take necessary precautions.”
Stony Pointer Mike Diederich, also a candidate for public office, personally felt the weight of the storm. His home, located just off Route 210, lost power the day of the Nor’easter and it wasn’t restored until Tuesday. “This was a once in a century type of storm,” Diederich told Rockland County Times. Sunday after the storm, he attempted to drive to church but was met with down trees and power lines at every turn. A 10-minute drive quickly became a 45-minute one.
While Diederich believes Orange & Rockland are doing the best they can, former state assemblyman Ryan Karben is not on the same page. He has launched a Facebook page called “Fed Up and Freezing in Rockland.” He called for a full investigation by the Public Service Commission on how the company does emergency planning and staffing. He also said O&R should have requested National Guard troops be sent to affected areas. While the group grows in popularity, most Rocklanders will just be happy to have their power back after this freak storm.
DRY ICE DISTRIBUTION
As of Wednesday, O&R and Rockland Electric has been distributing dry ice today fat the following locations:
Boulders Ball Field
Warming centers have been set up throughout the County for residents without power:
· St. Lawrence Center 115 Torne Valley Rd, Hillburn 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., 753-2324