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Tens of thousands of customers without power due to strong winds

Nick Lippa

Tens of thousands of Western New Yorkers lost power Wednesday due to a strong wind storm that has caused downed power lines and trees across the region.

As of 1:30 p.m., more than 35,000 National Grid and NYSEG customers had lost service. The greatest numbers are in Erie County, where more than 28,000 homes and businesses between the two utilities were powerless. In Niagara County, approximately 8,000 customers are in the dark.

NYSEG Spokesperson Kevin Ortiz said they are currently evaluating whether it is safe or not to send out crews.

"Right now we're in a phase that we refer to as 'Make Safe' and also assessing," said Ortiz. "By 'Make Safe' I mean addressing any down lines, any poles that may be compromised... that's our main focus right now."

National Grid estimates restoration by 10 p.m. Wednesday. A spokesman says the company has more than 1,700 line, service and tree workers on alert, including additional support from 240 contractors from as far away as Indiana.

Ortiz said they have enough people working to get services back up once the high winds calm down.

"We pre-positioned more than 1000 company and contract personal as well as tree workers to respond to this storm. At this point we are utilizing all those resources," he said.

Along with the power outages, the strong winds have led to numerous issues on area roadways. Downed lines and trees were a common sight Wednesday, causing damage to vehicles. A tractor-trailer rolled over earlier in the day near the ramp from I-90E to I-290W.

A High Wind Warning is in effect until Wednesday night for all of Western New York. Winds in the range of 35 to 50 mph have affected the region, with gusts up to 65 mph possible.

Monday - Friday, 10 a.m.. - 2 p.m.