More than 90,000 remained without power Thursday evening after Wednesday's powerful winds
NYSEG and RG&E reported that approximately 93,000 customers, mostly in Monroe and Wayne counties, remained without power as of 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Power outages could extend longer than 24 hours, and some areas may be out of power for multiple days. NYSEG and RG&E say they will provide restoration times for customers as they become available.
More than 1,300 workers ave been mobilized to respond to calls of more than 2,000 cases of downed wires. This also includes assistance from neighboring utilities. Crews have been working since Wednesday afternoon to address downed lines, as strong winds caused extensive damage to power lines and structures in communities.
”Our first priority is safety: of our crews, mutual assistance partners, and the public. We appreciate our customers’ patience as we make safe throughout the day and initiate our restoration service,” said Mark Lynch, president and CEO of NYSEG and RG&E.
During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo reminded residents that shelters are open at four locations: The David Gantt Community Center on North Street, the Gates Town Hall, the Greece Community Center and West Irondequoit High School. Those shelters would remain open as long as needed as crews work to get the power back on. Warming centers are also open across the county.
"The community has been very resilient in dealing with this," added Tim Kohlmeier, Monroe County deputy public safety director. "Their adherence to our guidance on no travel, stay inside, has been a direct benefit to us and our call volumes."
Dinolfo lifted the county unnecessary-travel ban at 5 a.m. Thursday. Drivers are asked to use caution while driving since there are still downed trees and power lines on roadways. Some intersections still have traffic lights that are not working. Drivers should treat nonfunctioning traffic signals as four-way stops. They should expect slower-moving traffic and leave extra time for their commute.
Crews worked throughout the night Wednesday to de-energize damaged equipment that may represent a risk to public safety. They also worked to assess the damage and make repairs to critical facilities.
Tom Rand, from MTV Solutions of Boston, said, "We have a lot of work ahead of us, very dangerous but we have a good handle on it."
Twenty trucks descended on South Winton Road in Rochester, ready to start working to re-open the road. The group of about two dozen linemen got the call for help Thursday night and started the drive from Boston to Rochester.
As they came to South Winton Road, they realized quickly the extent of the damage.
"It looked like a micro burst that went through, something like that, that took out just this area here," Rand said. "I've seen it many times, but this is pretty bad; it is going to take some time to get it fixed."
It was too dark Thursday, once the wind stopped, for Barbara Verwursp — who lives across the street — to get a good look at the damage. But in the daylight, she saw it all.
"Oh my god, I thought we were going to have a tornado or something," said Verwursp. "It was just incredible."
Now, Barbara, her husband and their little pup, left without power, are trying to make the best of it.
"No power, no hot water, we have an electric stove," says Verwursp. "We can't use the microwave."
Areas along the lake were some of the worst hit by Wednesday's winds.
In Greece and Irondequoit, the towns declared a state of emergency Wednesday and asked people to stay off of the roads. Thursday afternoon, in Greece, 17,000 people were still without power. Crews were out working but they've got a lot of ground to cover: Drive down any street in the Town of Greece and you'll see damage — mostly trees that couldn't stand their ground against Mother Nature, many falling into roofs, decks and porches.
Due to the ongoing power outage on campus, Roberts Wesleyan College will be closed on Friday. The college says both the main campus in North Chili and the Jefferson Road location will be closed. All events and classes are cancelled. However, students in adult or graduate classes at extension centers are asked to contact their professors. Classes at Northeastern Seminary are also cancelled.
Customers can get the latest outage information on the NYSEG and RG&E websites.