COPAKE—Winds barreling off the Taconic Mountains like a speeding freight train tossed stately trees around like matchsticks, bringing them down on roads, houses, cars and electrical wires during a wild storm that whipped through much of eastern Columbia County all day Monday, April 16.
The storm produced wind-driven rain, flashes of lightning and claps of thunder, but it was the relentless wind that left hundreds without power and created conditions dangerous enough to provoke supervisors in the towns of Copake and Ancram to declare states of emergency.
The declaration gives officials the authority to take any means necessary to secure the safety of the public, Copake Supervisor Jeff Nayer told The Columbia Paper this week.
The declarations included prohibiting any unnecessary road travel. Highway crews need to be able to keep roads clear so police, fire and rescue squad personal along with electrical crews could get to where they need to go to in an emergency, the supervisor said.
Trees blew down on houses, the roofs blew off three baseball dugouts at Copake Memorial Park. A tree came down on a propane tank at Taconic Shores, causing a valve to break, so firefighters could not shut it off. Mr. Nayer said the Town Hall was opened in case people in the area had to be evacuated. He said firefighters devised a system with a pipe to let the propane dissipate and be burned off and the wind blew the rest of it away.
The Copake hamlet was a ghost town, with most businesses shuttered for lack of power.
What the Sheriff’s Office called “hurricane force winds” lifted and flipped over a tractor trailer on the “Copake Flats” on State Route 22 between the north and south entrances to the hamlet. Sheriff David Bartlett estimated the wind gust that toppled the mammoth truck at 100 mph.
At 9:22 a.m. Monday, Columbia County 911 dispatched sheriff’s deputies to the disabled truck on State Route 22, just south of Weed Mine Road.
Deputies say that a 2012 Freightliner tractor with an empty trailer, operated by Meyette Howard, 53, of Altamont was traveling south when wind gusts rushed underneath the truck hoisting it and pushing it onto its side and down an embankment on the west shoulder of the highway. The truck is owned by Power Pallet Inc. from Amsterdam.
The Community Rescue Squad took the truck driver, the sole occupant of the tractor trailer, to Columbia Memorial Hospital by for treatment of back pain.
The State Department of Transportation (DOT) responded to the scene and closed State Route 22 in the area of the flats from about 9:28 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. due to the hazardous weather conditions.
The Community Rescue Squad and Copake Fire Department assisted at the scene.
Columbia County 911 dispatched more than 40 calls for weather-related emergencies across the county from 2:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Supervisor Nayer said he did not believe any resident had been hurt during the weather event and he could not thank all who responded to the emergency enough. The State of Emergency issued for the Town of Copake expired at 10 p.m. April 17.
Ancram Supervisor Art Bassin issued a townwide email telling residents, “Because of high winds, heavy rains and dangerous driving conditions caused by wires and trees down on roads, the Town of Ancram has declared a state of emergency for the next 36 hours ending 12:01 a.m. April 18.”
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