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Power returning to thousands in Ulster County following Friday storm

power line repair
Don Polllard
/
New York Governor Kathy Hochul tours winter storm damage in Rosendale.

Ulster County is recovering from a mass blackout inflicted by Friday's snow and ice storm.

The winter storm that brought ice and snow to Ulster County brought down trees and power lines as well. Power outages and frigid temperatures that followed prompted the opening of warming shelters and water distribution sites around the county, where thousands of customers remain in the dark this evening. The city of Kingston was hit particularly hard, according to Mayor Steve Noble.

“This is probably one of the largest ice storms to affect the City of Kingston in the last 20 years," Noble said. "We, I think, all woke up on Friday morning, with freezing rain that had started to accumulate from about 4 a.m. And we started to see our first power outages shortly thereafter. We knew at that point, as the weather continued to deteriorate on Friday, that we are going to be in for some pretty severe tree damage. And in our city as it is, with many cities, we have lots of beautiful trees. But unfortunately, that sometimes corresponds with lots of power outages. And so with this storm, we've had the most power outages as a city. And at least my time here, in Kingston, we had over at the height of the storm, over 70% of our customers with central Hudson, were without power.”

Noble said as of Monday afternoon about 5% of Kingston residents were still in the dark.

Central Hudson spokesman John Maserjian says the utility saw a high number of outages for a localized storm.

“I believe we'll probably have addressed about 1,200-1,300 damage locations when this storm is all through," Maserjian said. "That's typically what we see throughout our entire service territory on a major storm. This is concentrated in one county, in Ulster County, which makes the makes the restoration process particularly challenging.”

Governor Kathy Hochul was in Kingston this afternoon for a storm update, praising Central Hudson's response.

“I think they've done an amazing job at this point," Hochul said. "When you think about the fact that just a couple of days ago, we had 65,000 people without power, we could still be looking at 40 to 50,000, this many days after, when you have the severity of a storm, what I want to explain, this is not clean up after a Friday event, where all the wires that were going to come down, were down and you just start saying, ‘Okay, how do we clean this up?’ This has been ongoing through the weekend, literally powerlines were falling Friday, Saturday, Sunday.”

Maserjian says getting the remaining customers back on line is priority.

“As the numbers of customers go down, the difficulty and the complexity of the repairs tend to rise," Maserjian said. "And so, you know, we'll see a repair now restore power to perhaps, you know, 20 customers or five and whereas before a repair may have restored customers, restored power to a much higher number of customers.”

Maserjian says if you called and reported your outage, Central Hudson knows it, nevertheless you are welcome to call again.

Warming centers are open in Kingston, New Paltz, Rosendale and Saugerties, and dry ice and water are being distributed at the Hudson Valley Mall, Rosendale Recreation Center and Woodstock Community Center. As the power is restored, the governor urged area residents to check on vulnerable neighbors.

Hochul says storm response will be analyzed "when we're out of this event."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.