Governor Cuomo makes appearance in Rochester
ROCHESTER — Utility crews worked Friday to restore power to more than 120,000 western New York homes and businesses still without electricity service two days after a devastating windstorm.
Most of the approximate 122,000 customers without power Friday were in Monroe County, where about 83,000 were without electricity. NYSEG and RG&E deployed close to 1,500 line workers and tree crews Friday morning, and expected an additional 400 line workers will join the effort during the course of the day.
"The damage has been extensive," said Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who traveled to Rochester on Friday to assess the storm's impact and update residents on recovery efforts. "The first priority is to get the power on as soon as possible."
The governor said that by Saturday morning there will be 200 National Guard people in our area. They will assist with things like clearing trees, transportation and shelter management.
"Unfortunately, over the past few years, they've had too much experience, in dealing with emergency like these," Cuomo said of the guard. "The people of Monroe should feel comfortable with their qualifications."
More than 200,000 customers lost power Wednesday when winds gusting from 70 to 80 mph knocked down trees and toppled utility poles across a 10-county area. The task of restoring power could be made more difficult this weekend; forecasters say temperatures will dip into the teens and 20s.
Officials with the three utilities servicing western New York said Thursday that it could be several days before some customers have their power restored. Cuomo urged residents to check on neighbors and relatives as the temperature falls.
Despite all the damage, and falling branches and poles, no serious injuries were reported.
"What's absolutely amazing is we had no injuries," Niagara Falls City Administrator Nick Melson told the Niagara Gazette.
Weather service meteorologist Tim Morrin said the temperatures were heading below the freezing mark and people outdoors will feel an extra "bite" with wind gusts up to 20 mph.
Right now, it's not clear if Rochester will qualify for federal aid in the storm cleanup.
"There are certain thresholds that you have to hit," Cuomo explained during his visit Friday, "and [the federal government] — not surprisingly — have a complicated formula."
The governor said that they will first have to calculate the damage to the city, county and towns before they can figure out if federal funds will be available.