CHEEKTOWAGA, NY - County, state and federal officials held a press conference Monday afternoon to discuss the status of preparations for Hurricane Sandy in Erie County.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said that no state of emergency has been declared for Erie County, but that he was ready at a moment's notice to do so if required. "That does not mean that we shouldn't be vigilant," he emphasized.
Poloncarz said that planners were looking at the effect of Sandy in Western New York as "not so much a rain event as a wind event." While about 2" of rain may cause localized flooding, the big concern is anticipated wind gusts of up to 60 mph with the potential to knock over trees and bring down power lines.
"If you see a downed power line," said Poloncarz, "assume it's live." If it's a legitimate emergency he said to call 911.
The numbers to call in the event of power outages are:
- National Grid 1-800-867-5222
- NYSEG 1-800-572-1131
He added that the power companies probably wouldn't be able to get bucket trucks out until daylight, after the wind eases up.
Poloncarz asked residents to avoid all unnecessary travel during the storm, especially after dark, for their own safety and to give emergency crews room to work.
He said Erie County parks would be closed at 5 on Monday rather than the usual 9 p.m. closing time, and won't open on Wednesday morning until crews have had a chance to assess damage from the storm.
He said the park closings included Bennett and Wendt beaches, even though residents might be tempted to go there to watch the waves.
He reminded residents never to run generators indoors, but to keep them outside as far away from the home as possible. And if a streetlight is out to treat that intersection as a four-way stop, bringing your vehicle to a complete stop, as required by law.
Congressman Brian Higgins said that the president had placed the resources of the Federal Emergency Management Administration at the disposal of New Yorkers at Governor Andrew Cuomo's request.
Congresswoman Kathy Hochul added that lines of communication had been opened between all federal, state and local agencies that might be called on in the emergency.
She also told residents not to call 911, don't text, in the event of an emergency, since 911 has no way to receive texts.