Earlier this evening at a storm briefing in Binghamton, Governor Kathy Hochul activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Albany where staff from multiple State Agencies and the Office of Emergency Management are working together to coordinate requests for assistance from local governments following the late winter storm that dumped heavy, wet snow in upstate regions, leaving 195,000 households without power and causing travel issues during Tuesday’s morning commute. The largest impacts were to the Southern Tier and parts of the Capital Region, Mohawk Valley and North Country, where six to 11 inches of snow fell overnight.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Good afternoon, everyone. I wanted to take this opportunity to personally visit the command center for what has been a very serious storm event that wreaked havoc over 11 counties in our state, from the Southern tier all the way up to the North Country in the last 24 hours.
And I want to thank our leadership team here as well. I want to thank our County Executive Jason Gardner, who has been through many storms before and COVID and a lot of other disasters we’ve had to work closely together. I want to thank him and his team for all they do here, as well as recognizing my team, which is headed up by our Commissioner of Emergency Services Jackie Bray, who’s very experienced in dealing with storms. We went through a lot of storms this winter, as well as our Commissioner of DOT, Marie Therese Dominguez, and we are very delighted to be joined by our Assemblymember who is always hands-on on the ground, Donna Lupardo, and our Supervisor of the town of Dickinson, Michael Marinaccio.
So thank you all for joining us here today. I do want to acknowledge that this was a very serious event, as I said resulting in a dramatic amount of families, homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, at least temporarily displaced and dealing with a lack of power. And this is a very frightening specter, especially thinking about families with their children.
The power goes out in the middle of the night. It’s a storm that basically rolled in around 8:00 PM yesterday, snow pretty much tapered off by mid-morning, 8:00 or 9:00 AM. But in the meantime, because of the weight of the snow, the tree limbs couldn’t withstand the weight of that. And countless tree limbs came down, literally bringing down the power lines with them.
Most of that event occurred between 4:00 AM and 9:00 AM. So people woke up in darkness, the alarms didn’t go off and realize that they’re in for perhaps a long haul without having their critical power.
Now, we had anticipated this storm and we had crews on the ground. I want to thank the DOT again for being so hands-on and so ready to deal with this, they always do.
And also the fact that NYPA think about on a given day here in Broome County, there are about 40 individuals who are part of a team they call the blue skies team. I believe there’s over 700 right now in the region, 400 in this county alone who are focused 100% on restoring people’s power.
And that is going to happen in various degrees right now. Well, we had about 350,000 homes without power throughout the event about 200,000 have been restored. That is very good news. But here in the Southern Tier, there’s still a lag time because of the severity of all the tree limbs coming down here, hitting harder here than other parts of the state.
So right now we have about 40,000 homes still without power here in Broome County. And the crews are very focused on restoring that power, but you also have to realize there’s a lot of live power lines on the ground. This is a very dangerous situation. So individuals who are not part of utility crews are not allowed to touch limbs and move them as long as there’s electric wires associated with them.
So we had our parks crews deployed by the state, sent over here to help with limbs that are not tangled with power lines. So they have been working diligently throughout the day and will be into the evening to remove limbs, branches, trees from the road to open up roadways. At this point there is only one state road that’s closed.
So, it’s an intense effort and it is a team effort. And I want to thank the local law enforcement, our sheriffs, our police departments, our firefighters who have been responding to an enormous number of 911 calls and they’re coming in from all over. So this has been a real hands-on effort, but also the community of Deposit, once again, hard hit. They have been without power, but also without 911 and emergency services, so the state of New York literally sent our own command center, our Emergency Operations Mobile Unit, to help in that community, to help them get through what is a very challenging time.
So, because the temperature is not extremely cold, we think a lot of people just stay in their homes overnight, but we caution them to be very careful about their heat source. Do not open up your oven and leave it open and think that’s a safe way. If you have space heaters, don’t leave them on attended.
And if you’re shoveling snow, this is that heavy, wet snow that can cause heart attacks, so be smart about it. Take smaller scoops. I’m a little bit of a professional on shoveling snow because I’m from Buffalo. So I know what I’m talking about and I want to make sure that everyone gets through this safely.
But unlike some of the earlier storm events we had, where I spent a lot of time with these two women who are just incredible, a lot of weekends through this winter, the temperatures often were single digits, zero even below and we really had to encourage people to go to warming centers. The County Executive will talk about the fact that there are warming centers available, but they may not be as critical given that the temperature is going to hover just a little bit higher than freezing.
So I just want to acknowledge the incredible work that’s gone on on the ground here. My gratitude for them, we’ve been in communication with all the counties affected some still have states of emergency and to work closely with National Grid to deploy resources right here where we really can be the most service.
So, at this point, I’ll turn it over to Commissioner Bray to talk more about our response. But again, I am so proud of the response and the relationship that we have from the state and county and local governments to help people in these times of need. We’re here with the resources, the expertise to support for whatever you need and we’re not going anywhere until all the power and all the lights are back on. So thank you very much.