Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today continued overseeing state preparations across the State of New York for the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy over the coming days. The Governor has also begun deploying members of his cabinet to all regions of the State to coordinate with local officials, monitor the storm’s progress, and serve as the primary points of contact to provide real-time reports from the ground.
“As we continue to track the path of Hurricane Sandy, state agency preparations for the Hurricane are mobilizing across New York so that we can all face the storm calmly and safely,” Governor Cuomo said. “I urge New Yorkers to keep following news reports on the storm’s path and make preparations now to protect themselves.”
The State Department of Transportation (DOT) is actively preparing for the storm by readying equipment; organizing crews to remove trees and limbs on roadways and trimming trees that could affect electrical lines; identifying staff that will conduct flood watches; and monitoring bridges as water rises. Crews are clearing as much debris and floatable objects as possible that could be picked up by storm water and cause damage, create hazards, or clog roads and the areas underneath bridges. DOT is paying particular attention to areas prone to flooding and clogging. DOT is also clearing culverts and drainage basins to ensure they flow freely.
With the uncertainty of where the storm will hit, all 11 DOT regions are prepared to respond within their regions. In addition, DOT has identified 405 people, 90 dump trucks, 13 bucket trucks, 24 excavators, 24 loaders and 42 chippers for storm response deployment.
DOT has issued the following safety tips for travelers:
· If there is water covering a road or bridge, do not try to drive through it! It only takes two inches of flowing water to carrying away a vehicle.
· If traffic signals are dark from a power outage, treat them as all-way stop signs.
· The public is urged not to travel during the storm if conditions make travel dangerous. Dangerous conditions include high winds that could blow trees or power lines onto roadways or cause debris to fall on roads or vehicles, as well as heavy rains that reduce visibility and cause water to cover roads and bridges.
· Motorists are strongly urged to check 511NY before traveling to access current road conditions. 511NY is available by calling 5-1-1, visiting www.511NY.org, or by downloading the new mobile app for smart phones. 511NY will have up-to-date information regarding road and bridge closures, as well as transit, commuter rail, and airport delays.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has determined that there are no general operational issues at its generation and transmission facilities. Virtually all of the statewide public power utility’s hydroelectric and natural gas-fueled facilities will be available for round-the-clock operation. NYPA has undertaken close inspections of the sites of its facilities to ensure that equipment is safely secured against strong winds and other extreme weather conditions and that there is no potential for flying debris. Sump pumps for removing water at the plant sites and at transmission substations are available if needed, and backup generators have been fully fueled.
Senior staff members have been dispatched to the various NYPA sites around the state. Generally required resources, including personnel, equipment and vehicles, are available. The follow preparations are in place for NYPA projects and facilities:
· Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project: The 430-acre lower reservoir at NYPA’s Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project on the Schoharie Creek is at its lowest water level in the event of high water inflows from extreme weather. Although it is not a flood-control facility, NYPA reduced the hydroelectric plant’s lower reservoir level in the event of accelerated amounts of storm-related inflows of water. The facility will not be generating power if the storm heads to the area.
· Small Hydro Projects: At the direction of the NYS Canal Corporation, the Hinckley Reservoir, where NYPA operates its Gregory B. Jarvis small-hydro plant, has been drawn down to lower levels to provide additional water storage capacity if there are heavy rains.
· Transmission Facilities: Transmission linemen from NYPA’s statewide facilities have been placed on alert in the event of storm-related damage to the transmission system or to provide assistance to other utilities in the case of damaged power lines and equipment. Aerial services have been secured for the early part of the week for inspecting NYPA transmission lines, which consist of more than 1,400 circuit-miles. Transmission line trucks are fueled and loaded with the necessary equipment for quick dispatch.
The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is preparing for the storm with National Grid to closely monitor the storm’s progress on and around-the-clock; coordinate preparation efforts with the State, New York City, county and local emergency management organizations; communicate preparations and restoration procedures with public officials; ensure that all LIPA and National Grid personnel are ready to respond; secure additional utility and tree trim crews to supplement the existing workforce; reinforce all communication and information technology systems necessary to support restoration efforts; and ensure that all supply inventories and equipment are fully stocked to support restoration efforts. There are currently 730 linemen and 187 tree trimmers available. Customers should go to www.lipower.org for different ways they can report and receive information about outages.
Other utility companies are making preparations that include:
o Orange & Rockland is gearing up to “Irene Levels” and is activating vendor support for communications to handle calls from customers.
o Central Hudson has 400 personnel mobilized.
o NYSEG has a staff of 440 full-time personnel comprising of 220 crews, 107 tree-trimming contractors, and 59 contractor crews available.
o National Grid is currently in “Full Mobilization Mode” with 300 line crews, 50 contractors, and 200 tree-trimming crews available.
These utility companies have made requests for thousands of personnel from out of state utilities that are not affected by the storm. These personnel will be deployed once specific impacts from the storm are known.
The State Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will procure 200-300 thousand pounds of dry ice for distribution to affected areas. OEM can provide Guard members to assist utilities with sandbagging critical stations, if needed.
LIPA has advised customers to take the following steps:
· Never touch or go near fallen wires, even if you think they are safe. Parents can use this opportunity to remind children that wires are dangerous. If you are in a vehicle that comes in contact with a downed wire, stay in your vehicle until help arrives.
· Make sure you have a working, battery powered radio or TV and a good supply of fresh replacement batteries.
· Have flashlights available for all family members.
· If an electric pump supplies your water, fill spare food-grade containers with water for cooking and washing in anticipation of a possible power interruption.
· Make sure all motor driven equipment, such as garage door openers, can be operated manually.
· When using a portable generator, make sure all LIPA-powered equipment is disconnected. This will avoid severe hazards when reconnecting the power to your home or business.
· Have a first aid kit at home and check its contents to make sure they are complete and up to date. If you have family members with special medical needs, such as insulin or other prescription drugs, check to make sure you have an adequate supply.
· Do not use charcoal to cook indoors; deadly carbon monoxide gas can accumulate in your home.
· If you have an elderly neighbor, help check on his or her status. Even a quick telephone call during a storm can provide much appreciated assurance that help is nearby if needed.
· Should an electric power interruption occur, all sensitive equipment, such as computers and TVs should be disconnected until service is restored.
FINANCIAL AND INSURANCE PROTECTION
The Department of Financial Services (DFS) advises New Yorkers to prepare now for property damage and losses caused by Hurricane Sandy by making sure they know how their insurance works if they need to file claims, as well as to have their insurance information readily available including copies of all insurance policies, insurance cards, and 24-hour contact information for their insurance agent, broker or company. In the event wind and heavy rain cause property damage, DFS issued the following steps for homeowners to recover quickly from storm-related losses:
· Contact your insurance company, agent or broker to report property losses as quickly as possible. It is also a good idea to follow-up a phone call by submitting the claim in writing.
· Document losses by taking photos or videos showing the extent of property damage.
· Make repairs needed to prevent further damage from occurring to a home, including covering broken windows or leaking roofs, but don’t make permanent repairs until after receiving written approval from the insurance company or the company’s authorized representative.
· Keep all receipts for any necessary inspections or repairs. Such expenses might be reimbursed under the homeowner’s policy.
· Keep personal property that has been damaged until after the insurance settlement.
· Contact your insurance company to see if your homeowners’ policy covers additional living expenses if your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot stay there.
· Cooperate fully with the insurance company and provide the information requested. Providing incorrect or incomplete information may delay the process.
· Always keep detailed notes about conversations with the insurance company or agent. These notes should include the name and contact information of the person spoken to, the date and time of the conversation, and details about what was said.
· Consumers can find additional information at www.dfs.ny.gov.
ENVIRONMENT AND OUTDOOR RECREATION
The Office of Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation (OPRHP) is monitoring 13 campgrounds that remain open; most overnight camping facilities have already closed for the season. The picnic area and the road leading to it in Bethpage State Park, Farmingdale, Nassau County, will be closed on Monday, October 29 and Tuesday, October 30 to accommodate the National Grid storm response staging area for Hurricane Sandy. The Westchester EOC has requested and been granted the use of FDR parking lot 5 to be used as a staging area in the Taconic Region. Preparations for high winds and flooding include testing equipment such as power generators, chainsaws and wood chippers, preparing to secure facilities, relocating heavy equipment from coastal areas, and monitoring small dams within state parks.
In the Long Island Region, OPRHP will close Hither Hills Campground in Montauk at 11:00am on Sunday, October 28, and Robert Moses State Park in Babylon, at 2:00pm on Sunday, October 28 when the Fire Island Evacuation goes into effect. In addition, OPRHP is closing the following parks on Sunday, October 28 at 5:00pm:
· Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park / Oakdale
· Belmont State Park / Babylon
· Bethpage State Park / Farmingdale
· Brentwood State Park / Brentwood
· Brookhaven State Park / Wading River
· Caleb Smith State Park Preserve / Smithtown
· Captree State Park / West Islip
· Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve / Huntington
· Connetquot River State Park Preserve / Oakdale
· Heckscher State Park / East Islip
· Hempstead Lake State Park / West Hempstead
· Hither Hills State Park / Montauk
· Jones Beach State Park / Wantagh
· Montauk Downs State Park / Montauk
· Montauk Point State Park / Montauk
· Nissequogue River State Park / Kings Park
· Orient Beach State Park / Orient
· Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park / Oyster Bay
· Sag Harbor Gold Course / Montauk
· Sunken Meadow State Park / Kings Park
· Valley Stream State Park / Valley Stream
· Wildwood State Park / Wading River
Parks will assess the properties after the storm passes and determine a reopening date and time.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will temporarily close shellfish harvesting areas in Nassau and Suffolk counties effective sunrise on Monday, October 29. These temporary closures are a precautionary action in anticipation of extremely heavy rainfall and stormwater runoff, as well as coastal flooding and power outages that are expected to occur when Hurricane Sandy impacts the area. This precautionary action is taken to protect the public health as stormwater runoff caused by heavy rainfall carries bacteria and other pathogens into adjacent surface waters. In addition, the prolonged strong easterly winds and the full moon will bring an increased risk of coastal flooding that may inundate low-lying septic systems and wastewater treatment systems to be overwhelmed. When water quality in the enclosed creeks, coves, harbors and bays is adversely affected, shellfish in those areas have an increased potential to be hazardous for use as food. The normally certified areas in Long Island Sound, Block Island Sound, Gardiners Bay and the Atlantic Ocean that are minimally affected by stormwater runoff remain open for harvesting. DEC will re-open areas as soon as possible based on the results of water quality testing samples that will be collected following the storm when it is safe to collect samples. Additionally, a list of areas that are designated as uncertified and where the harvest of shellfish is temporarily prohibited, as well as more information about temporary closures, are available on DEC’s website at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7765.html.
DEC has also issued the following tips for New Yorkers and businesses:
Oil Tank Precautions: Owners of commercial and residential fuel oil tanks located in flood-prone areas should take precautions to minimize risk for flooding of the tank. Check tanks for the following (a tank contractor may be needed to check the tank and make any needed improvements):
o The tank should be protected from floating or toppling over by flood waters or high winds;
o The tank should be protected from falling limbs, floating debris, or high currents;
o Connections to the tank (fill pipe, vent, gauge, bungs) should be water tight;
o If the fill port or top of the vent could be flooded, the cap to the fill pipe should be securely fastened and the vent pipe should be extended to above the worst case water level.
These precautions should also be taken for underground tanks or tanks in basements.
In the Event of an Oil Spill: If your home is affected by a flood that causes an oil spill in or near your home, you should contact DEC’s Spill Hotline immediately at 1-800-457-7362 to report the spill. In some cases, the oil mixes with the water that floods your home. If so, do NOT pump the water out into your yard. The oil may spread and contaminate other areas, including nearby wells, water bodies and homes. If a layer of oil is on water in a basement, you can minimize the amount of oil spread on walls and floors and the amount of other damage to your property by removing the oil before pumping the water out.
o For an oil film, absorbent pads may be sufficient to collect the oil.
o For a thicker layer of oil, a vacuum truck may be necessary to skim the oil off the water.
Oil spills can also contaminate indoor air. The State Department of Health (DOH) is available to answer questions at 518-402-7810 or 800-458-1158. After hours and on weekends, call 1-866-881-2809. Oil-contaminated debris or material contaminated with other petroleum products should be segregated and stored in a well-ventilated area. If stored outdoors, piles should be covered to keep precipitation from contaminating nearby soil and water. Any chemical or oil spills, such as from oil home heating tanks, must be reported to DEC through the Spill Hotline. For more information on steps to minimize the damage and finish the cleanup quickly, visit http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/indoors/air/oil_spill_flood.htm.
DEC advises all hunters, hikers and campers to be out of the woods by dark on Sunday, October 28. DEC’s Fish Creek Campground in Franklin County will close Sunday night. Weekday reservations are not being accepted. Those planning to hunt, hike, camp, boat or paddle on the lands and waters of the Adirondacks and Catskills next week should pay close attention to weather reports. Nobody should be in the backcountry or on the waters when the storm hits. Outdoor recreationists should stay out of the backcountry and off the water until after the storm has passed and DEC has determined the resulting damages. DEC will provide information on its website regarding blowdown and flooding that may make the backcountry unsafe to access.
For more information on preparation, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/76659.html.
DEPLOYMENT OF CABINET MEMBERS
The Governor has begun deploying members of his cabinet across New York to coordinate with local officials, monitor the progress of the storm, and serve as the primary points of contact to provide real-time reports from the ground to the Governor and Director of State Operations. The following members will be deployed:
Dede Scozzafava, Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government, Department of State
Location: St. Lawrence County Office of Emergency Services, Canton
Darrel Aubertine, Commissioner, Department of Agriculture and Markets
Location: Clinton County Office of Emergency Services, Plattsburgh
Brian Stratton, Director, Canals Corporation
Location: Central Emergency Operations Center, Albany
Joseph Martens, Commissioner, Department of Environmental Conservation
Location: Ulster County Office of Emergency Management, Kingston
Central New York
Matthew Driscoll, President, Environmental Facilities Corporation
Location: Onondaga County Emergency Management Office, Syracuse
Benjamin Lawsky, Superintendent, Department of Financial Services
Location: Nassau County Emergency Operations Center, Bethpage
Garry Brown, Chair, Public Service Commission
Location: National Grid Emergency Management Center, Hicksville
Mark Grossman, Long Island Regional Representative, Department of Labor
Location: Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management, Yaphank
RoAnn Destito, Commissioner, Office of General Services
Location: Oneida County Emergency Services, Oriskany
Gil Quiniones, President and CEO, New York Power Authority
Location: Schoharie County Emergency Management, Howes Cave
Barbara Fiala, Commissioner, Department of Motor Vehicles
Joan McDonald, Commissioner, Department of Transportation
Location: Broome County Office of Emergency Services, Binghamton
Western New York
Karen Rae, Deputy Secretary for Transportation
Sam Hoyt, Regional President, Empire State Development
Location: Erie County Department of Emergency Services, Cheektowaga
Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy
Location: Monroe County Office of Emergency Management, Rochester
Lower Hudson Valley
Lawrence Schwartz, Secretary to the Governor
Location: Hudson Valley Transportation Management Center, Hawthorne
Andrew Zambelli, Counselor to the Governor
Location: Rockland County Office of Fire and Emergency Services, Pomona
New York City
Nirav Shah, Commissioner, Department of Health
Location: New York City Office of Emergency Management, Brooklyn
To get the latest updates on the storm, follow the Governor on Twitter and subscribe to our Storm Watch list. You can also visit www.governor.ny.gov or connect with the Governor on Facebook for more information.
Visit www.dhses.ny.gov/aware-prepare/ for safety tips from DHSES on how to be prepared.