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Adirondacks spared Sandy's wrath

October 30, 2012

Local residents, officials and emergency responders spent the past few days preparing for a storm that was expected to bring high winds and some rain, but the North Country was spared the brunt of Hurricane Sandy.

Communities like Jay and Keene that were hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene last year braced themselves for the worst. Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas, chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, said this morning that he felt as if his community dodged a major bullet.

"We are relieved because I don't think we could take any more right now," Douglas said. "But it's so sad to see what everybody else is going through all throughout the Northeast."

Storm surges pounded the Atlantic coastal states of Delaware, New Jersey and New York, causing flooding and widespread damage. Millions of homes were without power this morning, much of lower Manhattan was flooded, and a fire consumed more than 50 buildings in Queens.

However, power outages and damage were minimal in the northern Adirondacks. As of 7 a.m. today, National Grid was reporting 88 customers without power in Essex County and no outages in Franklin and Clinton counties. Elsewhere around the region, the utility company listed 469 people without power in Hamilton County and 75 in St. Lawrence County. New York State Electric and Gas reported 85 customers with no power in Clinton County.

The forecast wasn't as severe in the Adirondacks as it was along the coast, but meteorologists had predicted the northern Adirondacks would receive strong winds and some rain. For the most part, that didn't materialize, and the worst has likely passed. Nevertheless, some lingering remnants of the storm will pass through here over the next few days. The storm is no longer considered a hurricane.

"The threat for the strongest winds was really late yesterday afternoon and during the overnight hours," said Eric Evenson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Burlington, Vt. "We did see, across northern New York, wind gusts of anywhere between 35 to 48 miles per hour. Today is probably the last day of any sort of concern."

Evenson said northern New York could see 40 to 50 mph wind gusts starting late this morning and lasting through the late afternoon hours. The weather service has changed its high wind warning to a wind advisory.

"We feel that the winds won't be as strong, but yet 40- to 50-mile-per-hour winds still have the potential to take down a tree or power line that could cause some power outages," Evenson said. "The impact isn't as great today as last night, but nevertheless, there's still a small threat today."

The storm also prompted concerns about flooding in Essex and Clinton counties and in Vermont, but a flood watch for northern New York and Vermont has been canceled, Evenson said.

"Most locations saw less than an inch of rain yesterday, and that's probably what we're going to see again today," he said. "We might see some small rises on rivers, but we're not going to see anything that's probably going to cause any flooding.

"What's left of Sandy is just going to slowly work its way northward over the next couple of days. The system is going to move right up over our area late Thursday night into Friday. That's why we're going to see a lot of off-and-on showers now through the end of the week. By the time it moves up here, the actual core of it is going to be weak enough that we're not expecting any significant rainfall or anything like that."

Few incidents in Tri-Lakes

In Saranac Lake, firefighters responded to just one storm-related call, an alarm activation at the American Management Association campus that firefighters said was triggered by high winds.

"It was pretty uneventful, which is fine with me," said Saranac Lake Fire Chief Brendan Keough.

Firefighters were manning the village fire station on Broadway in rotating crews throughout much of the day. Keough said the official notice to stand down came in around midnight.

He said he was glad that the storm hadn't caused any big problems here, and he was grateful that people took the threat seriously.

"There's no way to predict which way this would have gone," Keough said. "I was concerned about school buses being in the road with the potential winds they were predicting. I don't think it was an overreaction, based on the damage to downstate New York and had that tracked up this way. Everybody did what they needed to do."

After dismissing students early Monday due to the storm, local school districts were back to their normal schedules this morning.

Hurricane Sandy caused some power outages in Lake Placid Monday night and this morning, but no major damage occurred.

Brad Jacques, head fire driver of the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department, said there were minor outages overnight, but utility crews were able to restore electricity within 30 minutes in nearly every instance. As of this morning, customers on Deerwood Trail and Quail Lane, off River Road in the town of North Elba, were out of power, but crews were working to resolve the problem.

Customers on Station Street and Sentinel Road briefly lost power this morning due to a circuit issue, but electricity had been restored by 7:15 a.m.

Jacques said firefighters didn't respond to any downed trees, although utility crews did deal with a few. Asked if he was happy with how light the storm was compared to predictions, Jacques said, "That's for sure.

"And it sounds like, from the little bit that I've got from elsewhere in Essex County, it was pretty light everywhere," he said.

Emergency officials in Lake Placid were prepared for the worst, however. They met with Lake Placid village trustees at the firehouse Monday morning to plan for a major storm. Mayor Craig Randall said he called the meeting to make sure everyone was on the same page before the storm hits.

"We're hopeful that we don't have any unusual events," he said at the time. "I'm sure we're going to have some trees down. We're probably going to have some flooding."

The village and town of Tupper Lake declared a state of emergency Monday afternoon and warned against unnecessary travel. The state of emergency was scheduled to last until 2 p.m. Wednesday, but village Mayor Paul Maroun said this morning he will meet with local interests to consider rescinding it today.

Village and town officials met several times with their various departments and local emergency services to prepare for the storm, and representatives from each department were on standby for most of Monday night.

"The swath is big, but I think it's sort of dissipating, so I don't think we'll have any major problems," Maroun said. "But I think we were ready, and I think that's the way it should be done. Everybody was really working together to make sure that nobody would lose their shelter or be without food or without protection."

Tupper Lake village police Sgt. Eric Proulx said there was one tree on a power line on Read and Strange Road around noon Wednesday, but as a private road, it only affected a few people.

"There is absolutely nothing happening in Tupper Lake," Proulx said this morning.



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