News Column

Sandy: Power Coming Back in Wake of Super Storm

Oct. 30, 2012

Bryan Fitzgerald

Service is being restored to Capital Region homes and businesses left without utility service after Sandy's glancing blow.

National Grid reports that just 63 customers remained without service in Albany County. In Schenectady County, 132 were without power. Fulton County had the region's largest number of National Grid customers -- 3,078 -- in the dark. These are the numbers from other counties: Montgomery, 567; Saratoga, 2,663; Schoharie, 465.

The Capital Region was spared a direct hit from Sandy, though there was minor flooding in Lake George and some areas south of Albany.

The superstorm rolled into the Midwest, bringing wind and heavy rain from a region that spanned from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River.

In Lake George, winds blew straight down on the lake, pushing water to the southern edge and over its banks, John Quinlan a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said. The water crested just over the flood walls, but did not seep into the streets or village, Brian LaFleur, the Warren County Emergency Management office said.

Storm surges creeping up the Hudson River caused record flooding in Poughkeepsie. Moderate to minor flooding was reported in low-lying roads in riverside communities in Greene, Columbia and southern portions of Rensselaer counties, according to the weather service's website.

In Catskill, however, two businesses and the town's sewage treatment plant were flooded by what local officials described as a mammoth storm surge that occurred where the Hudson River and the Catskill Creek converge. Maincare Fuels, an oil company, and Frank Guido's Port of Call, a restaurant, were swamped with more than four feet of water, said Wayne Speenburgh, the chairman of the Greene County Legislator. The village's vice president, Patrick McCullouch, said the treatment plant's pumps were fried by the flood, and that they are still trying to asses the damage there. McCulloch said the surge came quickly.

"We left for about 30 minutes, came back and the water must have been over 4 feet," McCulloch said.

Damage to the surge was limited the three facilities and another vacant storefront. No homes were damaged, McCulloch said, adding that the water level is still high. Though McCulloch said the town is being watchful for another similar surge, the National Weather Service said any surges in the Hudson should be significantly lower than they were Monday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state officials are scheduled to give a briefing on storm damage and recovery efforts at 11:15 a.m. Watch the live webcast of that briefing at the Capitol Confidential blog.

At Albany International Airport, 46 departures and 33 arrivals, most of which involved flights along the Atlantic Coast, had been canceled as of 8:45 a.m.

In Albany, the Hudson briefly crested just above flood stage at 6 a.m. before receding, Quinlan said. Around 6 a.m, the northbound Exit 4 off-ramp on I-787 was closed for about an hour because of flooding, according to the Department of Transportation.

The majority of National Grid's outages should be restored by the end of the day Tuesday, said Patrick Stella, a spokesman for the utility company. Because winds in the Capital Region were not as strong as anticipated, Stella said crews were able to work throughout the night. National Grid is still assessing where it will deploy the hundreds of the extra crews called in from as far away as Colorado and Michigan, Stella said.

There were several reports of trees and electrical wires down across Saratoga County, where wind gusts at Saratoga County Airport were reported at 45 mph, according to the weather service. In Schenectady, a traffic light was reportedly blown down at Brandywine Avenue and Union Street. There were reports of wind damage in Berlin, Rensselaer County, and across much of Washington County. There were no reports of heavy storm damage in Albany County on the weather service's website.

The rain had subsided by early morning and the National Weather Service ended its wind advisory for the Capital Region.

But the storm caused devastation in New Jersey and New York City. The storm flooded part of New York's subway system and inundated the Jersey shore.

Coming just over a year after the devastation caused upstate by Tropical Storm Irene, Sandy fueled fears of a repeat. But it appeared the region was spared the worst of Sandy's wrath.

Forecasters had anticipated winds consistently whipping at 30 to 40 mph with gusts possibly up to 70 mph, but the gales proved to be considerably lower. At the weather service's office in Albany, the highest gust was reported at 50 mph. The majority of the Capital Region saw peak gusts of around 40 to 45 mph.

Quinlan explained that because of the way of Sandy tracked in from the Eastern Seaboard, the Capital Region just escaped significant storm damage.

"Had it came in 30 or 40 miles north, it would have been much worse for us here," Quinlan said.

Tuesday's forecast still calls for winds around 15-20 mph, with gusts possibly reaching 40 mph, Quinlan said. Scattered showers will continue throughout the day, and the winds will gradually dissipate by evening. The cloudy, wet weather will continue throughout the week, Quinlan said.

"We may not see the sun for an extended period of time until the weekend," the meteorologist said.

Source: (c)2012 Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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