Power back for many in north country; restoration efforts continue as second storm looms

Jan. 11—WATERTOWN — Many in Jefferson County have their lights back on while others are still in the dark in the aftermath of the windstorm that wreaked havoc Tuesday night in the north country.

As of 3:15 p.m. Thursday, 5,824 National Grid customers were without power in Jefferson County. There were only 162 customers in the dark in Lewis County Thursday and 3,032 customers in St. Lawrence County were without power.

National Grid spokesperson Jared Paventi said shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday that power had been restored for 65,000 Northern New York customers of the 74,900 in the region affected by the outage.

Crews on Thursday were out doing more repairs on dozens of damaged poles.

More than 2,000 utility people are working in the area from as far away as Florida to try to get people back online.

"We have an army of crews in town right now working on this to get things addressed as quickly as we can and attacking this from different directions," Paventi said. "We know that it's inconvenient, that people are cold. We know that people just want their power back and we empathize with it, and we're doing everything we can to make that happen. While at the same time preparing for the next batch of weather that's going to come in."

A high wind watch goes into effect Friday at 10 p.m. and extends until Sunday at 4 a.m. for Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego and northern Cayuga counties. The National Weather Service says southeast winds, the same direction as Tuesday's storm, are possible with speeds of 30 to 40 mph and gusts of up to 60 mph Friday night into Saturday before shifting to southwest winds on Saturday.

Paventi said National Grid is watching and planning for the next storm.

"We're going to work a parallel path," he said. "We have to keep our eyes on storm 'A' and get all of our customers back restored from what happened Tuesday and Wednesday while at the same time making all of the preparations for storm 'B.'"

Outages could happen because of the next storm as well, Paventi said.

He said they are looking to have "the vast majority" of outages restored by 11:30 p.m. Thursday with some outages in the more remote and harder hit areas going into Friday without power.

"One of the things that we've been encountering is that the weather conditions are not great up there right now," he said.

Snow has been falling in much of the tri-county area all afternoon.

Paventi said because of the snow, wind and damage to trees that crews will repair a line and then a tree will fall or lose a limb and take the power line back out. This has resulted in some customers getting power back, but then losing it again.

"That's obviously frustrating for the customer; it's just as frustrating for us, to be honest. It's tough right now," he said.

"Great progress" was made overnight by crews, Paventi said.

The majority of remaining outages are in the more remote, more wooded areas, according to Paventi.

Some of the islands are without power still and crews were working to restore them Thursday afternoon.

"Even though these are largely seasonal properties, they are still considered an outage and our goal is to get them down to zero," he said. "We have to restore those islands as well, because those are our customers."

Thursday's snowy weather has slowed down their work, Paventi said, adding that it can impede visibility and make it difficult for them to get the job done.

"But at the same time, we're working through it," he said. "It just slows us down a little bit."

National Grid is looking to see what can be held in place for Friday night and into Saturday.

National Grid is still urging people to stay away from downed wires and to keep generators outside.