ELIZABETHTOWN — States of emergency were declared in Essex and Clinton counties after Sunday night's severe winter storm struck the North Country.More than 3,500 people were out of power in Essex County at the height of the storm, and Time-Warner cable-television service still had not been restored late Monday.Most schools were closed in Essex, Franklin and Clinton counties Monday, giving students an extra day of vacation on their spring break.Plattsburgh State, Clinton Community College and North Country Community College called off classes.Public transportation in Essex and Franklin counties was canceled, and the Essex County Government Center in Elizabethtown was closed, with only essential employees told to report to work.Clinton County's state of emergency expired at 6 p.m. Monday; Essex County extended its until noon today.The National Weather Service reported most of the storm had passed, although light rain was possible until midnight and higher elevations see more snow. Highs in the upper 30s and breezy conditions were forecast for today.
At mid-day Monday, National Grid was reporting numerous small outages: 293 customers out in Crown Point; 550 in Minerva; 188 in Moriah; 107 in North Hudson; 701 in Schroon Lake; 24 in St. Armand; 421 in Ticonderoga; 118 in Westport; and 570 in the Black Brook area.Full restoration was not expected until today.Monday afternoon, New York State Electric & Gas had 4,500 customers without power in four counties."This storm continues to play havoc with our electricity-delivery system, causing numerous outages across Clinton, Essex, Hamilton and Franklin counties, with the majority of system damage in the more rural areas, where snow accumulations exceeded eight to 10 inches," NYSEG Regional Operations Manager Mark Leta said in a news release.He said crews continued to work to repair the damage."Continuing bad weather through the day and evening will most likely result in new service interruptions. NYSEG estimates that the majority of its customers who are without power will have service restored by Wednesday evening."To ensure safety as the restoration effort continues, all downed or low-hanging wires should be assumed to be energized, he said."People should stay far away from these power lines," Leta said. "Even lines that appear dead can be deadly."NYSEG customers who are still without power should call 1-800-572-1131.
The Essex County emergency command center in the basement of the county complex was activated and staffed.Essex County Emergency Services Director Raymond Thatcher said the storm caused scattered power outages and road closures as it passed through."We're requesting that no unnecessary travel occur," he said Monday. "We have roads closed due to limbs down, trees down. Secondary roads are rather rough."People out driving around could hamper the ability of highway and utility crews to open roads, he said."We had numerous motor vehicle accidents. Fire departments were extremely busy responding to wires down and transformer explosions."The storm dropped a foot of wet snow in some places, including the Essex County seat of Elizabethtown, but only a couple inches in others.
"The county has closed for business," Thatcher said. "We're trying to keep as many people off the roads as possible. We're requesting people to be cautious. Limbs are coming down on the highways."State Route 9 was closed at Split Rock in the Town of Elizabethtown Monday, forcing traffic to be rerouted.County meetings scheduled for Monday would probably be postponed to Wednesday, Essex County Manager Clifford Donaldson Jr. said.As part of pre-storm planning, Donaldson asked Sheriff Henry Hommes to have all deputies on standby and had Horace Nye Nursing Home Administrator Deborah Gifford ready to open the home in Elizabethtown as an emergency shelter for stranded travelers or people without power."Under no circumstances do I want senior citizens left in a shelter where they have to sit up all night, as they did when the windstorm hit the Town of Moriah last year," Donaldson said."They will need to be evacuated to Horace Nye, where they can be cared for properly."Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said they were prepared for evacuations, with shelters ready to Horace Nye and Moriah and Mineville-Witherbee fire stations. But they were not needed.Thatcher and Donaldson urged anyone operating a generator to make sure it was properly vented to the outdoors.Thatcher said the situation was under control and they were monitoring for any flooding.CLINTON COUNTYA state of emergency was declared late Sunday night and remained in effect throughout Monday.Emergency Services Director Eric Day and Assistant Director Kelly Donoghue said motorists need to exercise caution when traveling due to downed trees and power lines."Those lines get sagged down and the wind kicks up and knocks them around, and they can come down," Day said.There were no reports of flooding, but Day and Donoghue said officials will keep an eye on trouble spots the rest of the week as the snow melts.
Isolated power outages at individual homes, scattered reports of limbs down and property-damage fender benders were all officials in Franklin County had to report in the wake of Sunday's storm.The county did not declare a state of emergency.By mid-morning Monday, temperatures had warmed just enough to melt the snow off trees and power lines "so that part of the danger is over," said Emergency Services Director Malcolm Jones.But concerns about flooding linger."That's the next thing we're worried about," Jones said. "If it starts getting warmer fast, we'll have problems."Our rivers are pretty low right now so they can take a fair amount of water. But they got more snow in the south end than we did, so we may be concerned later in the week when it starts to melt."He said the Saranac Lake area had 10 to 15 inches of new snowfall compared to the six to eight inches in the Malone area."It's supposed to go into the 50s later this week, and that's too high too fast. If it could stay in the high 30s or low 40s, it would run off slow. We'll be watching it."Saranac Lake Village Highway Superintendent Robert Martin said the entire crew started Sunday afternoon as the weather got fierce and worked all night to clear more than a foot of snowfall.As sleet turned to rain Monday, Martin said they were watching for the other shoe to drop.
"We're anticipating some flooding now in a few brooks within the village. But it's nothing we can't handle. We're in good shape here."