Wind storm wreaks havoc in region

Rolled on roofing and debris from 12-18 S. Main St. lies in the street this morning. A significant portion of the roofing blew off during Wednesday night’s wind storm. Power outages, damaged property and fallen wires kept crews busy last night and today. (The Leader-Herald/Patricia Older)

Severe winds played havoc with the area Wednesday afternoon into this morning, felling trees, damaging roofs and causing power outages throughout the area.

“There was a very strong storm system from the Great Lakes to Eastern Canada and it wrapped itself around the area with its winds,” Albany-based National Weather Service forecaster Kevin Lipton said today.

Lipton said the area will experience some winds today, but not nearly as high as the 50 to 60 m.p.h. winds experienced during the peak of the storm.

National Grid reported 1,157 of Fulton County’s 29,585 customers were without power this morning and the restoration was being worked on.

Fulton County Civil Defense-Fire Coordinator Steve Santa Maria couldn’t be reached this morning for comment, but issued a news release on the storm.

He said his department was “kept busy” Wednesday afternoon and throughout the night, as winds toppled trees and brought down power lines.

“The Fulton County 911 Center began receiving calls for trees and wires down at approximately 4:52 p.m. on Wednesday. Calls for service continued throughout the night, tapering off by this morning. Calls were still being received this morning, but at a much lower rate. Dispatch personnel did a fantastic job keeping up with the heavy call volume and ensuring the necessary resources were dispatched, as well as providing vital information to National Grid that was received from first responders operating in the field.”

Santa Maria said that during the weather “event,” nearly all county fire departments were out dealing with calls involving trees and/or wires down. Fire crews did a “fantastic job,” he said, of triaging calls for service, dealing with the most severe or dangerous calls first and then moving on to calls of lesser impact.

“Several roads were closed during the event, including Route 30 in the town of Mayfield, to the area of Animal Land,” the release said. “Crews worked hard to reopen roads where it was possible to safely do so.”

Santa Maria said the high winds caused a power outage that impacted one of the county’s main communication towers. Emergency management personnel worked throughout the night to determine the problem and restore communications to agencies operating in the western part of Fulton County. Repairs were made by midnight and communications restored, the release said.

Santa Maria also issued this statement on social media: “Well its been a busy night for Fulton County first responders! Well over 60 calls ( that’s when I lost track) for trees and wires down throughout Fulton County. Blocked roadways, Damage to vehicles and buildings, MVA’s, etc. were all handled efficiently and professionally! There was very few departments that weren’t out at some point. Great job by all agencies! Especially our 911 dispatchers!! Despite the never ending calls for wires and trees down, a communication tower being out of service because of the weather, and the routine calls that still needed to be answered, they never missed a beat! And it still is continuing!”

Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino said today that deputies responded to about 250 calls between 5 p.m. Wednesday to 2 a.m. today.

“I can tell you that 142 of them were directly related to the storm. We were very active.”

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department also issued a social media statement: “Trees down, trees in roadway, trees on cars and several trees on houses. All county fire departments were out at various times throughout the night. All law enforcement agencies were tasked with triple overnight call volume, handling storm related calls in addition to regular calls. National Grid crews have been out since 5 p.m. last night with power outages throughout the county. We want to recognize the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office communication specialists aka dispatchers and the additional staff who pitched in to help, for a job well done.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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