Rockland County emergency officials are urging local residents to stay home today and limit travel as much as possible to help highway and utility crews in their efforts to clean up after Saturday's early snow storm.
The Halloween Weekend storm has knocked out power to 91,694 customers in Orange and Rockalnd Utilities' service area — 33,469 in Rockland County, according to O&R's online outage tracker.
Rockland County Emergency Services Director Gordon Wren Jr. said the storm, which pounded Rockland throughout the day and late into the night, brought down many power lines throughout the county and had volunteer firefighters and police chasing hundreds of emergency calls.
"In my own fire department we had more than a 100 emergency calls," said Wren, who is also a Hillcrest volunteer firefighter.
Wren said the storm made travel in Rockland extremely difficult with very slippery roads, down tree limbs and trees bent over by heavy loads of leaves and the wet, heavy snow.
"What we need on Sunday is time for the highway department crews and the O&R workers to do their jobs out there," Wren said. "It would be very helpful if people in Rockland stayed home, limiting their travel as much as possible. There is a lot of clean up work that has to be done."
In addition to numerous auto accidents caused by the storm, there were many minor fires throughout Rockland involving down utility lines. Portions of main roads, such as Route 9W, Route 59 and Route 303, and Western Highway and Orangeburg Road in Orangetown, were blocked at times by either down trees, power lines or accidents.
Orangetown Superintendent of Highways Jim Dean said they had over 100 roads impacted. Crews were out until 4 a.m. and will be headed back out to continue to clear closed roads at 10 a.m. Sunday morning.
In South Nyack, a home at 249 South Boulevard was damaged by fire. Volunteers of the Nyack Fire Department and to struggle to get to the scene of the mountainside fire because of a down tree blocking their way.
Firefighters said the fire that damaged one room of the house was apparently caused by a candle that had fallen over. The home had lost power during the storm. No one was injured.
In Valley Cottage, a fire truck became trapped when down power lines fell on to the truck.
In Blauvelt, firefighters dealt with a basement that had filled with smoke. In Hillcrest, power lines fell on a group of cars parked at an auto repair shop. Wren said five cars caught fire and the blaze spread to the auto shop.
In Upper Nyack, a tree damaged a house off North Midland Avenue. Throughout the county, there were reports of trees damaging cars.
"Again, the fire service did a great job responding to the emergency," Wren said. "But there are still obstructions all over the county. If people would stay home on Sunday that would help with the clean up and repairs."
As of early this morning, Clarkstown Police reported receiving 613 calls to 911 and 1,726 other calls throughout Saturday. The number of outages reported to them is as follows:
- Congers - 2,100
- New City - 3,000
- Nanuet - 2,000
- Valley Cottage - 2,400
- West Nyack, Central Nyack, Village of Nyack - 2,500
The police departments issued the following reminders to residents. Respect barricades and cones. If you encounter barricades or cones, they are likely there for a reason. Please do not drive around them or across lawns and sidewalks to avoid them. Find an alternate route to your destination.
Traffic lights are out on many roads. Use extreme caution when approaching any intersection normally controlled by a traffic light. Be prepared to stop and only proceed when certain it is safe to do so.
See the attached document to get an understanding of the widespread number of damages reported to the police.