O&R declared a company-wide Storm Watch on Wednesday afternoon in anticipation of a significant storm system hitting Rockland County today and continuing through Thursday into Friday. In the meantime highway departments readied their plowing equipment and pre-treated roads. The National Weather Service (NWS)'s Winter Weather Advisory is now in effect through Friday at 12 p.m. for a prolonged period of inclement weather bringing a wintry mix with possible high wind gusts.
The Rockland County Office of Fire and Emergency Services issued an advisory for two to four inches of snow Wednesday night, and an additional one to three inches from Thursday night into Friday. Highway superintendents noted March weather is usually milder and so any snow may turn to slush quickly instead of freezing.
“I’d call it a typical spring snowstorm,” said Rockland Deputy Highway Superintendent Andy Connors. “We’re concerned but we’re ready.”
Connors said he expects heavy wet snow, which may bring down some trees or branches. He also said it can be harder to plow than a dry snowfall. The county has pre-treated critical curves and hills but not all of its 170 miles of road since the temperature is currently staying above freezing. However, if that changes, the department's plows are ready and plenty of salt is on hand.
Clarkstown Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard also thinks commuters will have to deal with slushy roads in the morning. All town roads have been pre-treated with salt or brine in case the temperature does drop.
O&R Emergency Response Operations coordinators began meeting on Tuesday to prepare so they are ready to respond to the first report of storm-related damage.
Starting Wednesday evening, more staff will be working in Electric Operations, the Energy Control Center, Customer Service, Damage Assessment, Site Safety, Transportation and Stores. Additional O&R overhead line, contractor and tree crews will be working to address outages as they occur.
To help customers prepare for a storm, O&R offers these tips:
- For safety’s sake, don’t touch or approach any downed wire. Assume it is energized and dangerous. Call O&R immediately toll-free 1-877-434-4100. Depending on the situation, you may also want to call your local police to divert traffic until an O&R crew arrives.
- Maintain a distance of at least 50 feet from downed wires and anything they are in contact with including puddles of water and fences. Supervise your children so that they are not in the vicinity and keep pets on a leash.
- If a fallen wire is draped over a car, do not approach the car and make rescue attempts. Remain a safe distance away, and try to keep the occupant of the vehicle calm. If possible, emergency personnel should handle the situation.
- Stock up on non-perishable food, bottled water, manual can opener, baby supplies and pet food. Set your refrigerator and freezer controls to their coldest settings. Fill the bathtub with water.
- Have emergency equipment within reach --- portable radio, flashlights, spare batteries, first aid kit, cell phone and important medications. Update your personal list of emergency phone numbers. Keep O&R’s toll-free number 1-877-434-4100 near the phone to report power outages.
- If you experience a power outage, don’t assume that O&R automatically knows about it or that someone else will report it. To be sure the outage is reported, please call O&R toll-free at 1-877-434-4100 to let O&R know what happened. The more information you can provide, the more O&R can help you.
- Remember: if the base station of your cordless phone plugs into the wall, your phone will be unusable during a power outage.
- If a family member relies on electrically operated medical devices, secure a portable generator or make alternate arrangements for care. O&R does not provide customers with generators.
- Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car. Consider having extra cash on-hand, in case ATM machines don’t work.
- Listen for storm alerts on the radio. In case of power outages, O&R will keep the stations updated on repair progress.
- Learn how to manually open and close any electrically powered garage door, security door or gate.
For more information, visit O&R’s Storm Center at www.oru.com.