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Surprise storm leaves thousands without power


Reprinted with permission from the Times Union

ALBANY–Almost 2,000 Capital Region residents were still without power Tuesday morning, November 22, after a snowstorm that lasted from Sunday into Monday. In New Lebanon and Austerlitz, which were hard hit by the storm, the town or local fire companies were offering shelter and dry ice for the public.

Most homes without electricity were in Columbia and Rensselaer County and all are serviced by NYSEG. According to the NYSEG website, 1,451 Columbia County customers were without power Tuesday, the largest number listed on the website among all the communities affected by the storm. The next largest number of outages was in Sullivan County, with 775; in Rensselaer County 333 customers were still without electricity.

There are 14,834 NYSEG customers in Columbia County, according to the company’s website,

Deep, heavy snow and high winds have hampered repairs since Sunday, NYSEG spokesman John Carroll said. “At this point, we have a lot of small pockets of customers [without power], so it gets slower,” Mr. Carroll said, referring to power restorations. “Some of these areas are pretty remote.”

According to the NYSEG website, on Tuesday Austerlitz had the most outages at 362. In Canaan 211 customers were without power while in New Lebanon the number was 128 and in Hillsdale 98 had no power. In the other towns, including Chatham, Copake and Stephentown the outage numbers were in the teens.

National Grid, which services parts of the western side of the Columbia County, reported no outages in the area at 8 a.m.

The Capital Region was under a wind advisory all day Monday, with winds blowing at 15 to 20 mph with gusts reaching 50 mph.

The utility company responds to calls of downed wires and other safety hazards first. Then the company creates a restoration and repair plan.

Crews first repair the backbone of the NYSEG system: substations and transmission lines. Next they tend to poles and power lines along roadways. Restoring power to highly populated areas and locations of critical infrastructure–such as fire and police stations, hospitals and nursing homes–is a priority.

But since some customers in rural areas have been without electricity for more than 36 hours NYSEG is making accommodations, Mr. Carroll said.

“We’re trying to help the customers who have been out the longest,” he said. “Today we have 62 crews working in the region and another 31 crews coming in this morning from Con Edison and Hudson.”

The number of outages statewide reached a peak of 20,500 on Sunday afternoon, NYSEG said. The storm knocked out power to more than 52,000 homes and businesses by Monday afternoon.

“It has been a challenging storm,” Mr. Carroll said. NYSEG crews are working on unplowed roadways and numerous car-pole accidents.

“People seem to have forgotten how to drive in the snow,” Mr. Carroll said.

Customers without power can go to the NYSEG website or call 800 572-1131 to report any electricity emergency.

The New Lebanon Firehouse, 523 Route 20, was offering water and dry ice for those without power on Monday. The New Lebanon Town Hall, 14755 Route 22, was also open all day for anyone who “needs to get warm,” according to the town’s website.

On Tuesday, the Austerlitz Volunteer Fire Company posted on its Facebook page that the firehouse was open to people needing to get warm or use the showers and bathrooms. To use the fire house, call 518 965-3585.

(EMILIA TEASDALE contributed to this story)

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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