CHENANGO COUNTY –A winter storm dropped 6 to 12 inches of heavy, wet snow on the area early Tuesday morning, downing trees and wires that blocked roadways and caused a massive power outage for about 100,000 NYSEG customers.
A state of emergency and travel ban for Chenango County has remained in effect since 5 a.m. Tuesday and will stay in place until until 6 a.m. Thursday, said Chenango County Board of Supervisors Chairman George Seneck.
Seneck said the state of emergency and travel ban for Chenango County would remain in place all day Wednesday and early Thursday due to numerous roads still being closed by downed trees and electrical wires.
Despite downtown Norwich having some power restored Tuesday night, more than 16,000 customers in Chenango County are still without power Wednesday morning.
Officials are warning that homes needing individual repairs, and residences in more remote areas, could take days to restore.
All county offices and schools in Chenango County were closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
“NYSEG is back in touch, there were not many updates. I think things are moving more slowly than the original assessment,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman George Seneck.
Overnight NYSEG primarily continued to make the lines safe, by removing downed wires and poles and similar damage. Seneck said major restoration work on the lines likely only began Wednesday morning.
Chenango County Emergency Management Director Matthew Beckwith said “Most of the restoration times we are looking at right now are looking at 5 p.m., others by 11 p.m., and others by tomorrow.”
Beckwith said NYSEG would first repair the damage effecting the most customers, and homes that needed a direct repair would take longer to get serviced.
The Norwich and Chenango County Office of Emergency Services are working to set up relief points for local residents.
Beckwith said more than 50 residents had stayed overnight at the Norwich YMCA.
The Norwich YMCA has been designated as an emergency site open to the public.
"The YMCA will close for daily operations at 9 p.m. but will remain open overnight for those friends that need shelter, heat, and water," said Norwich YMCA Director Jamey Mullen.
Mullen said emergency childcare was also being offered for essential workers and those needing childcare at the facility on Wednesday.
The YMCA will be open on Wednesday as a warming center during the day, with hot showers, water filling stations and charging stations for phones.
The Coventry and Smyrna Fire Department are open as warming shelters for local residents who are needing to get warm. Limited refreshments will be available as well.
Showers and bagged lunches are also being offered at the Norwich high school. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., meals can be picked up at the cafeteria, or those needing delivery can call 607-334-1600, extension 5506 for help. The school is also offering hot showers and shelter from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please report to the gymnasium doors.
Beckwith said the firehouses are also a place for people to stay warm and charge their electronics. The local emergency management office is also working to provide bottled water to these sites.
Residents using UHS Home Care can call 607-763-5600 to have more oxygen tanks delivered. If you use another home care service contact their emergency number.
Following a meeting between emergency management officials and NYSEG, Seneck said 65 critical facilities are without power in the county, including fire departments, government offices and nursing homes. Another 22 critical home customers are also without power.
Seneck and a number of local officials have been directly effected by the outages. The chairman himself has no power at his home in Guilford and is relying on his cell phone.
There were more than 47 impassable roads in the county Tuesday night, due to downed trees and utility wires.
Beckwith said no injuries had been reported but said there have been dozens of emergency calls and ambulance responses due to a lack of oxygen tanks and other medical concerns, due to the storm's impacts.
- - - update added 2 p.m. Wednesday- - -
The following locations have established as emergency centers:
YMCA – Norwich – Shelter (overnight shelter is available)
Smyrna FD – Warming Shelter
Coventry FD – Warming Shelter
Norwich High School – City of Norwich, NY – warming shelter and showers
Otselic Valley Central School District – South Otselic, NY - Overnight shelter, showers and food available
Sherburne Earliville School – Sherburne, NY. – Food is available for pickup only.
Unadilla Valley CSD – New Berlin, NY – Open from 3 PM to 7 PM for Students families and local residents.
The Office of Emergency Services is working with NYSEG for the distribution of Dry Ice throughout various locations in the County. We do expect to obtain additional supply of dry ice tomorrow as it becomes available through NYSEG. Chenango Welding (State Highway 12 South in the Town of Norwich) also has a quantity of dry ice available for purchase, if necessary.
A limited supply of dry ice is available at the following fire departments:
Afton, Bainbridge, Greene, Guilford, Norwich, Smyrna.
Monitor the Chenango County Office of Emergency Services and the City of Norwich and Chenango County Emergency Management Facebook pages for continued updates.