Utility crews preparing for impact of high winds
Strong winds are expected to batter Western New York today, causing concerns over the possibility of power outages and downed trees and power lines.
Forecasts called for winds between 30 and 50 miles per hour, with gusts up to 65 miles an hour, along with heavy rainfall and scattered thunderstorms in parts of the region. A high wind warning is in effect until later tonight.
Local energy companies have brought in extra crews to help deal with the effects of the storm. National Grid spokesman David Bertola says the company began preparing for the potentially damaging gusts ahead of time.
“Anytime we have severe weather, we start internally with a series of meetings and make sure we have all of our resources ready,” Bertola said. “We called the major customers in our service are, mainly schools and municipalities, just to let them know we’re here for them. Depending on the severity of [today’s] storm, we may need to assist with setting up shelters as well.”
Bertola said it’s important to call immediately if your power goes out, as many people think National Grid automatically knows which customers lost power. This helps avoids any confusion and long periods without power.
“We like to get the word out to the general public as well to let them know not to assume that we know that your power is out,” Bertola said. “If your power is out and you’re a customer call 1-800-867-5222 and let us know where you live and that you’re out of power so that we can add you to the queue if we haven’t already.”
Bertola also had some advice for people effected by the storm. He suggests stocking up on emergency supplies in the event that power is lost for a long period of time.
“You should always keep a number of working flashlights ready, one battery operated radio and maybe even a supply of batteries at home,” Bertola said. “Drive carefully and use caution when driving, especially near repair crews, always assume that a downed line is live, which can be very dangerous.”
Bertola also emphasized the importance of checking on elderly neighbors. Espcially if you haven’t heard from them, check to see if any power lines or trees have fallen on their property, he said.
Clean up crews will be busy dealing with the high demand of calls from customers without power or damage from the storm. To deal with the heavy volume of calls, Bertola said crews from nearby states are also pitching in.
“We’re mobilizing crews from nearby states and they’re on their way if they’re not here already,” Bertola said. “It’s all part of the process, we’re just having them come to town in case this is severe, which we’re anticipating it will be, and we just want to make sure that if the wind is as powerful as it is, we’ll need extra sets of hands.”
Bertola reminds anyone using a generator to only operate them outside and to disconnect from National Grid’s system by shutting off the main breaker prior to use. Customers who depend on electricity for medical purposes should call 1-800-642-4272 immediately, and all emergencies should be reported to 911.