Emergency responders, utility crews brace for winter storm

Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 4:39 PM EST
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TOWN OF PAMELIA, New York (WWNY) - The north country’s emergency workers and utility crews are preparing for this weekend’s storm.

At the Northpole Fire Company, the assistant fire chief says they’ll have plenty of people on hand despite the holiday.

“We got people that are going to be on standby, ready to respond to any event,” said Chris Hanlin.

This weekend, the Northpole Fire Company expects to assist with clearing downed power lines and trees, crashes, and personal health issues. Volunteer firefighters will be coordinating with other departments by using an app on their phones.

People are urged to avoid over-exerting themselves while clearing snow to avoid heart issues.

Hanlin also says folks should be aware of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Locate your furnace and your heater vents. Clear the snow away about two feet in each direction to make sure those are clear. That will keep the carbon monoxide from backfilling into your home,” he said.

On the county level, officials expressed a similar level of preparedness, especially after last month’s storm that dumped about 5 feet of snow on parts of the area.

“The plows were all ready to go. We just went through a pretty large event here about 3 or four weeks ago. So they’re used to this stuff,” said Joe Plummer, Jefferson County Fire and Emergency Management director.

Something that will be a bit harder to deal with is the wind and the power outages that it may cause.

“If you do have generators, make sure you have fuel, make sure they’re outside and they’re properly connected to your home,” said Plummer.

To combat the outages, National Grid has activated its emergency response plan - mobilizing more than 2,800 workers across upstate New York. They’ll be working around the clock. But if the power goes out and the winds remain strong, the utility won’t put workers in harm’s way.

“If we have to put a bucket up in the air to tend to something on a pole, we can’t do that safely knowing winds are too strong and hazardous,” said Jared Paventi, National Grid strategic communications manager.

The utility says it has brought in crews from as far away as Kentucky, Tennessee, and Canada to help restore power if it goes out during the winter storm.