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Efforts Continue to Restore Power, Some Schools Closed

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Nearly 700 line, tree and service crews from Niagara Mohawk and other utility companies worked Sunday to repair severe damage caused by a series of ice and wind storms that swept across upstate New York late last week.

As of Sunday evening, 9,300 Niagara Mohawk customers were still without power. Throughout the day, crews had restored power to 24,000 customers. Officials said virtually all customers would have service restore by some time Tuesday, but stressed that most customers would have service restored before then.

The number of crews working to restore service and make repairs included 479 line, 151 tree and 50 service crews --about 2,000 people -- from Niagara Mohawk and Niagara Mohawk's National Grid sister utilities in New England; Hydro Quebec; Keyspan and Pennsyvania Power & Light.

Sunday, crews focused their efforts on a wide range of damage, including the repair or replacement of more than 2,000 individual service wires to residences and businesses, and the repair or replacement of more than 80 damaged utility poles.

Niagara Mohawk asks that customers only call the company in regard to emergency situations or specific information about storm damage. The storm emergency number is 1-800-867-5222.

The telephone number for New York State Electric and Gas is 1-800-867-5222.

Because of the ongoing power outages, several school districts have announced they are closing Monday. They include:

Albion Central

Amherst Central

Batavia City Schools

Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart

Buffalo Schools #63 and #86

Christ the King School, Snyder

DeSales Catholic School

All Genesee County Schools

Lockport City Schools

Medina Central

Mount St. Joseph Academy

Royalton Hartland Central

St. Benedict's School, Eggertsville

For the first time since Wednesday, most Buffalo public schools will be open Monday.

Some traffic signals are still out on area roadways. Motorists are advised to approach such intersections with extreme caution. Under New York State law, a dead traffic light should be approached like a four-way stop sign. But many motorists are unfamiliar with the law, so caution is advised.

In Cheektowaga, highway department crews on Saturday were busy removing downed tree limbs from hard hit neighborhoods.

In Snyder, where side streets are lined with trees, downed limbs were littered on the front lawns of nearly every house.

The damage was caused early Friday by freezing rain, which coated tree limbs and power lines with more than a half-inch of ice. Temperatures rose late Friday morning, allowing the ice to melt. But then strong winds gusting at more than 60 miles per hour blew in, causing more problems.

The biggest casualty was the Paddock Chevrolet Dome in Tonawanda. Strong winds are blamed for tearing the air-filled dome. Work crews then brought it down to avoid further damage. There were no injuries.