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Much of the Southtowns was without power Saturday afternoon after a New York State Electric & Gas equipment failure shut down at least four power substations.

Trees and power lines brought down by winds of up to 58 mph and heavy rain added to the mess and created additional power problems throughout Western New York.

In Niagara County, about 2,000 Niagara Mohawk customers lost power for about three hours when the storm blew down a high-power transmission line in Barker. A gust of 72 mph was recorded in Niagara Falls.

The equipment failure knocked out power to 34,000 NYSEG customers in the towns and villages of Hamburg and Orchard Park, parts of West Seneca and the Town of Aurora.

The failure in one of NYSEG's substations caused a line to burn, resulting in the automatic transmission system closing down the other substations, said Daniel Tillman, NYSEG's manager of consumer services.

"We isolated the problem and went around it. We made the repairs and got (the power) back up," Tillman said.

The power was out in the Village of Hamburg from about 1:30 to 2:50 p.m. With traffic lights out, police directed traffic at major intersections.

In other parts of the Southtowns, power was restored in about
an hour, Tillman said.

West Seneca police said they used the town's emergency generator in Town Hall for police and fire services for about 90 minutes. Between 60 percent and 70 percent of the town was without power, including Southgate Plaza.

High winds later knocked out power to 220 customers in a West Seneca neighborhood that included Cherokee Drive and Westgate Boulevard. NYSEG workers expected to have power back in service Saturday evening.

Orchard Park was just returning to normal after crews restored power when a motorist struck a utility pole shortly before 4 p.m. on East Quaker Street just west of Freeman Road, knocking out power until about 6:45 p.m., Orchard Park police said. No serious injuries were reported.

The Buffalo Niagara International Airport also was without power briefly, forcing it to rely on auxiliary power for about 30 minutes, according to Harry Spector, public affairs director for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. The failure did not prevent planes from taking off or landing, he said.

Several airplanes bound for Pearson International Airport in Toronto were diverted to Buffalo because of the strong winds and heavy showers.

Scattered power failures also were reported in Lancaster, Cheektowaga and Aurora.

In Niagara County, power was cut to sections of Barker and Newfane from about 4 to 7 p.m., according to Niagara Mohawk spokesman Stephen Brady.

"We lost the substation that serves Barker and the surrounding area when the high-power transmission line that serves the station was blown down," he said.

Power also was cut to two feeder lines from the substation that deliver power to the Barker-Newfane area, he added.

Niagara County sheriff's deputies said there were numerous complaints of isolated power failures throughout the county, mostly in the northern part of the county.

Traffic was temporarily impeded where trees were blown down across roads in Youngstown and Olcott. Trees also were reported blown down in Gasport, Lewiston and Newfane, deputies said.

Genesee County sheriff's deputies also reported scattered power failures.

Paul Westmoore of the News Niagara County Bureau contributed to this story.

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