The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

October 30, 2012

Crews brace for Sandy's wrath

By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star

---- — Public works and emergency crews were on standby, with equipment readied to tackle storm damages, several municipal officials said Monday.

More than 3,775 customers were without power at about 8:30 p.m. Monday in Otsego, Delaware, Schoharie and Chenango counties, according to New York State Electric and Gas Corp.

Hurricane Sandy was downgraded to a tropical storm late Monday. But in the area, high-wind warnings continued into overnight hours. That meant watching and waiting, several municipal officials said, with expectations for wind damages rather than flooding problems.

Several officials wondered aloud about possible impacts, especially because this storm was delivering gales from the east in area that typically is subjected to winds from the west.

“It’s not very east to target where the wind will affect things,’’ Oneonta town supervisor Robert Wood said.

Town of Oneonta employees were on call for storm response and had filled truck gasoline tanks and readied chainsaws, Wood said.

Town officials met with West Oneonta Fire Department crews to prepare, he said, and the town also was in contact with Otsego County emergency officials and NYSEG. NYSEG indicated its priority of responses would be hospital, institutions, government buildings and services to multiple users, Wood said.

An Oneonta town constable would be on patrol Monday night and early today, looking for storm damages, Wood said.

Oneonta Police Department has put all members on alert in case they need to be called in, Chief Dennis Nayor said, and a sergeant has been assigned specifically to work overnight Monday.

By 8 p.m. Monday, the Oneonta Fire Department’s update indicated the heaviest winds would be between 9 p.m. Monday and 1 a.m. today. Crews responded to one incident of a tree down on wires and a building at AAA, 195 Oneida St. in the town at about 2 p.m., officials said. NYSEG was notified and the area cordoned off.

Oneonta city employees, including those managing water, sewer as well as emergency services and public safety, are “fully prepared’’ for whatever the storm delivers, Mayor Dick Miller said.

“We have experienced people, and they are standing by,’’ Miller said. “For us, it very much is business as usual.’’

The focus in storm response is the health and safety of constituents, Miller said, and no plans were made to close City Hall. A major concern is high winds that come from the east, he said, because typically storm winds locally are from the west.

“This is an unprecedented storm,’’ Miller said.

The city also has been in touch with Otsego County Office of Emergency Services and NYSEG, he said.

Kevin Ritton, coordinator of county emergency services, said a shelter was being opened at St. Mary’s Church annex building on Walnut Street in Oneonta at 7 p.m. Monday. County officials participated Monday in conference calls with the state and National Weather Service to monitor storm developments, he said.

In the Delaware County town of Davenport, crews, trucks and equipment were ready to respond, Supervisor Dennis Valente said. The town has a generator that will provide power to run the municipal water system in the hamlet, he said, and has sufficient diesel fuel to power the generator during an extended outage.

Charlotte Valley Central School in Davenport has opened as a shelter and is connected to the water system, Valente said. The town’s budget hearing scheduled for tonight has been canceled, he said.

Valente said potential impacts from storm winds from the east are the major concern.

“It’s going to have a different impact than we’re used to,’’ he said.