Tonawanda News

December 24, 2013

Ice storm wreaks havoc in Niagara County

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News —

Ice build up and flooding created weather-related emergencies throughout the region over the weekend.

As National Grid field crews continued to address service issues created by heavy ice and increasing winds in the Niagara County area, the company is cautioning its customers to be extremely careful around downed wires, limbs, trees and broken poles. Significant ice build-up between the New York State Thruway and Lake Ontario in Western New York overnight Saturday, has resulted in extensive tree and equipment damage across the area.

Estimates are that more than 70,000 customers had service interrupted at various points beginning late Saturday night and into Sunday morning throughout the Upstate New York and Northern New York regions.  

A force of more than 2,000 electric line, forestry, survey and other field workers were deployed throughout areas to clear hazards and restore services, many of whom were pre-positioned in advance of the weather based on forecasts.  The company called in additional National Grid and mutual aid crews, particularly to Western New York where ice accumulation and resulting damage was far greater than weather forecasts had predicted.

The Niagara County Sheriff's Office reported that 27 of the 28 volunteer fire companies had been in service dealing with 430 storm-related incidents over the weekend and at the beginning of the week. 

The calls received varied from transformer fires, flooded basements, downed power lines and minor fires. Emergency personnel responded to one report of a carbon monoxide poisoning in the Town of Wheatfield. A back-up generator was on the rear porch and caused carbon monoxide to enter the residence. 

National Grid's Central and Western New York work force were aided by other National Grid crews from Eastern New York, Long Island and New England, along with contractors and other mutual aid crews.  Field forces are supported by hundreds of additional logistics personnel in offices through the regions.

 “We were well prepared and have a very large and highly skilled workforce on the ground in the hardest hit regions. We are making excellent progress, to be sure, but the level of damage is quite severe and extremely widespread,” said Kenneth Daly, president, National Grid New York. 

“We are completing damage assessments and have developed plans that will allow us to systematically and safely address these issues.  We are focused on restoring power to every impacted customer and we are pressing as quickly as can to make that happen.”