Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo blew into and out of Western New York Sunday afternoon as quick as a Lake Erie gust, cautioning residents about high winds and warning utility companies the state will be scrutinizing their response to the latest storm.
Cuomo, who has criticized utilities in the past for not restoring power more quickly after storms, described as “so far, so good” the response to outages in Western New York early Sunday. Nonetheless, he directed the state Department of Public Service to investigate utility preparedness and response to recent storms.
At some point Saturday night and Sunday, more than 26,000 people lost power due to high winds, Cuomo said.
NYSEG and National Grid crews restored electricity by early Sunday afternoon to all but about 260 customers .
"You flip the switch, you expect the lights to come on, not just when it's sunny but also after a storm," said Cuomo. "New Yorkers are understanding. There's a storm, lines are down. They understand that there's a practical reality to getting lines up etc., but they expect an expeditious response. And so do I. look this is not our first rodeo. You can't say anymore, 'I'm surprised by the severity of the storm.' "
Wind gusts were expected to continue throughout Sunday, reaching as high as 60 mph and threatening more power outages.
At a news conference at a state Department of Transportation garage in Hamburg, Cuomo acknowledged this wind storm did not appear to be as severe as one two weeks ago that featured sustained winds of more than 70 mph.
“Not as severe doesn’t mean not a problem,” he said.
The governor said gusts in Western New York during the latest storm did bring down power lines and poles, and knocked out some substations.
“When people don’t have power, that gets very serious, very quickly,” he said.
Hamburg Supervisor James Shaw and Ken Kujawa, National Grid regional director for Western New York, also attended the news conference.
Hamburg was particularly hard hit by the most recent wind storm. NYSEG crews handled outages Sunday morning that left more than 4,200 customers in the towns of Hamburg, Boston and Orchard Park without power. Crews restored power all but 184 of them by early afternoon.
But early Sunday afternoon, a transmission line that runs from Dunkirk to West Seneca for National Grid went down, causing outages in Hamburg, the village of Angola and the towns of Brant and Evans, Kujawa said. Power was restored to those areas within an hour.
Kujawa said National Grid crews were on standby in barns across Western New York, ready to be deployed to any problem areas.
“We prepare and we drill for this all the time,” Kujawa said.