Ice cuts power to 39,000; some homes may be out until Tuesday - The Buffalo News

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Ice cuts power to 39,000; some homes may be out until Tuesday

Power has been restored to about 10,000 or 11,000 of the 39,000 National Grid customers who lost power in Western New York overnight, but some homes may not get power back until Tuesday, company officials said this afternoon.

Some 18,500 homes in Niagara County and 9,300 in Erie County were among those hit when rain turned to ice and coated power lines throughout the region overnight.

“We have made some progress,” spokesman Steve Brady said, though noting that the company continues to get reports of new outages even as crews restore power to some areas.

“The worst of it is basically north of the Thruway,” Brady said.

Early today, power was out along parts of Transit Road, between the Thruway and Sheridan Drive, and some traffic lights were dark.

Communities north of Buffalo – including Amherst, Clarence, Akron and Newstead – were especially hard hit by overnight flooding, according to emergency officials.

“We’ve been getting calls about flooded basements from all over this area since 2 a.m.,” an Amherst Fire Control dispatcher, who handles emergency calls from all those communities, said shortly after noon today. “It’s pretty widespread. You have power outages, which stop the sump pumps from working, and then the basements get flooded.”

Parts of Harlem Road north of Seneca Street were hard hit by flooding.

The office of Clarence Town Supervisor David C. Hartzell Jr. was working today, as were the town highway department, sewer workers and disaster coordinators.

Floods forced the temporary closings of several roads this morning, including sections of Clarence Center Road, Kelkenberg Road and roads in the Meadowlakes housing development off Clarence Center Road, said Karen Jurek, assistant to the supervisor.

“It looks like it is going to be one of our worst floods here in quite some time,” Jurek said. “Not so nice for the Christmas holidays.”

The northern part of Clarence was especially hard hit, Jurek said.

Brady said the ice began forming slowly last night.

“It built rather dramatically through the morning hours,” he said, adding that many of the forecasts predicted that the ice storm would hit further north. “Many of the forecasts did not predict the kind of ice that we’re getting.” Some 5,500 homes were without power in Orleans County, and another 3,000 were hit in the Genesee region.

In Niagara County, the storm began affecting residents shortly before 2 a.m., according to the Sheriff’s Office. Calls to the county’s communications center spiked from the normal 27 per hour overnight to an average of 108, officials said. They included reports of flooded basements, downed power lines, minor fires and an incident of carbon monoxide poisoning in Wheatfield when a generator on the back porch sent the gas into the residence.

In Buffalo, the Department of Public Works reported no major problems from flooding, though the Delaware Avenue S-curves near the park were closed from about 2 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Scajaquada Expressway also was temporarily closed, but reopened shortly before noon.

Flooding also closed a section of the Niagara Parkway in Fort Erie when the drainage system couldn’t handle all of the water and a sinkhole developed, Niagara Parks Police reported.

Brady said the affected area is larger than had been predicted and the company is still receiving calls about new outages.

Another 32,000 were without power in northern Central New York and the St. Lawrence River Valley area. The company has 1,600 field workers out and another 700 to 800 working behind the scenes to restore power in the two regions, Brady said, but he couldn’t say yet how many of those workers are assigned to Western New York. He said additional crews would be coming in throughout the night.

He urged residents to be cautious around downed wires. “We just need everybody to be safe,” Brady said. “Even if they think it’s the cable TV wire, stay away from it. Let us deal with it.”

Sheriff’s officials also warned that residents should not enter flooded basements because the standing water could be electrically charged. Today’s forecast calls for highs near 50, which should melt some of the ice.


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