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BREAKING: State Of Emergency Just Declared- National Guard Deployed

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Bruce Johnson  RIGHT WING TRIBUNE –

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today declared a state of emergency for Putnam, Rockland, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties, and all of New York City ahead of the coastal storm, which is expected to bring heavy, wet snow downstate through Wednesday evening.

The Governor also announced 300 New York National Guard service members have been activated and will be deployed to areas impacted by the storm. Following recent weather events, the Governor directed rapid response teams comprised of Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North and utility company personnel to be prepared to address downed wires or power failures. The utility companies are partnering with the LIRR and Metro-North to deploy to weather incidents as they arise, and restore power as quickly as possible to New Yorkers.

The Governor also activated the State Emergency Operations Center. A combination of wet, heavy snow, winds of 20 – 30 mph, and gusts up to 45 mph is expected. Snow accumulations will range from 10 to 15 inches in the lower Mid-Hudson Valley and in New York City, with up to 18 inches in the Metro New York City area, and 4 to 10 inches of accumulation forecasted on Long Island with higher amounts in Suffolk County. Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour are possible Wednesday afternoon, which will make driving conditions very dangerous as wet, heavy snow is expected.

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“As Mother Nature once again tests our great state, we have taken proactive measures in anticipation of the storm’s heavy, wet snow that could impact power lines and cause dangerous travel conditions,” Governor Cuomo said. “I have activated the State Emergency Operations Center, National Guard members are being deployed, and I am urging New Yorkers to plan ahead for the harsh weather conditions expected throughout the rest of the day.”

Minor to moderate coastal flooding is also possible along the south shore of western Long Island during high tide Wednesday mid-day. An updated listing of Weather Watches and Warnings from the National Weather Service can be found here.

Earlier today, the Governor announced a travel ban for tractor trailers on certain roads went into effect Wednesday, March 21 at 8 a.m. Tractor trailers, and short and long tandems trailers, are restricted from entering:

  • I-84 from PA line to CT line
  • I-684 from I-84 to Hutchinson River Parkway
  • Thruway from I-84 (exit 17/Newburgh) to Exit 1 (NYC line)
  • I-287 Exit 1-12
  • I-95 NYC line to CT line

A toll-free hotline for updates on weather and power outage restoration times is available at 866-697-2434. In addition, the State Emergency Operations Center has been activated for enhanced monitoring for the duration of the storm.

State Agency Preparations

All New Yorkers can obtain emergency information through NY-ALERT, the state’s free, all-hazards, web-based alert and notification system. To subscribe, visit nyalert.gov. If you do not own or have access to a computer, call toll-free 1-888-697-6972.

New York’s Division of Military and Naval Affairs

The New York National Guard has 300 service members on standby downstate. The soldiers are prepared to provide assistance to local governments with four-wheel drive vehicles if necessary.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The Division’s Office of Emergency Management was activated on Wednesday at 8 a.m. for enhanced monitoring, and Division personnel have been in contact with local and county emergency management partners in the path of the storm. Regional staff will be deployed to the Nassau County, Suffolk County, and New York City Emergency Operations Centers to support state and local response efforts. State stockpiles are prepared with over 700 generators, nearly 250 light towers, approximately 1,300 pumps, nearly 1,000,000 sandbags, more than 56,300 ready-to-eat meals, more than 430,000 cans and bottles of water, more than 4,000 flashlights, thousands of cots, blankets and pillows, nearly 1,000 traffic barriers, and more than 7,000 feet of Aqua Dam temporary flood barrier. Additionally, the Division is prepared with high-axle vehicles, utility tracked vehicles, and a tracked sport utility vehicle.

State Department of Public Service

New York’s utilities have added 1,700 line workers and tree and service workers to their existing base of 3,800 workers for restoration efforts, if needed. Crews are being moved to the areas that are expected to have the greatest storm impact. Several hundred additional utility workers are expected to arrive by the end of the day, which would bring the overall total to 6,100 workers. The Department has directed utilities to dedicate resources to work with each county to assist in clearing downed-wire road closures. Utilities will continue to prioritize repairs based on restoring the greatest number of customers, which will be done in parallel with helping local governments to clear roads for public safety. In addition, all the utilities have identified points of contact with the LIRR and Metro North to ensure a coordinated and rapid response to issues affecting railroads.

The Department of Public Service has extended Call Center Helpline hours until 7:30 p.m. today, and continuing Thursday, March 22 starting at 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., as needed, to assist consumers in their storm restoration efforts. The Department of Public Service Call Center Helpline can be reached by calling 800-342-3377. Public Service Commission staff will continue to monitor the utilities’ efforts during the restoration period. The utilities are prepared to respond to power disruptions throughout the event.

New York State Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has shifted resources across the state in preparation for the storm. Approximately 24 plow operators and 10 additional large plows have been deployed to the Lower Mid-Hudson Valley from other Divisions in the state. Additionally, heavy tow trucks will be staged at strategic locations in the region throughout the storm.

The Thruway Authority has 678 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 242 Large Snow Plows, 113 Medium Snow Plows, 10 Tow Plows and 54 Loaders across the state with more than 101,000 tons of road salt on hand. Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway.

The Thruway Authority encourages motorists to download its mobile app which is available to download for free on iPhone and Android devices. The app provides motorists direct access to real-time traffic and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert e-mails which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway by visiting: www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml. For real-time updates, motorists can follow @ThruwayTrafficon Twitter or by visiting www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.

Snowplows travel at about 35 miles per hour — which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit — in order to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. The safest place for motorists is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.

New York State Department of Transportation

The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 1,555 large plow/dump trucks, 193 medium plow/dump trucks, 322 loaders, 40 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 51 tow plows, 14 pickup trucks with plows, and 18 graders. In addition, the Department has more than 326,000 tons of road salt on hand. To address the potential for damaging, high winds, the Department also has 45 grapple attachments, 4 bulldozers, 31 excavators, 54 traffic signal trucks, 13 tree crew bucket trucks and 77 chippers.

NYSDOT has shifted resources across the state to help respond to the storm. Approximately 25 operators, five supervisors, and four tree crews have been deployed to the Mid-Hudson Valley from other parts of the state, and 60 operators, 10 supervisors, three emergency managers, 20 large plow trucks, and eight mechanics have been deployed to Long Island. DOT’s Long Island Region has also activated 30 contractor large dump trucks in anticipation of the coming storm.

Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511 or by accessing www.511ny.org before traveling. The free service allows users to check road conditions and transit information. Mobile users can download the updated, free 511NY mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play stores. The app now features Drive mode, which provides audible alerts along a chosen route while a user is driving, warning them about incidents and construction. Users can set a destination prior to departing and receive information on up to three routes.

New York State Police

The New York State Police will add additional patrols during the storm to the affected areas as needed. All 4X4 vehicles are available for deployment, and all troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The Port Authority has made extensive preparations for personnel and equipment at all of its facilities. The agency activated its main agency-wide Emergency Operations Center in Jersey City early this morning to monitor storm conditions. Facility specific Emergency Operations Centers were activated last night at John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia airports. The Port Authority also is in contact with the states of New York and New Jersey, as well as other local and federal officials and agencies to coordinate responses to this winter storm.

As of 12 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, the following number of flights are cancelled:

  • 644 cancellations at JFK today, which is approximately 53 percent of scheduled operations.
  • 863 cancellations at LGA today, which is approximately 75 percent of scheduled operations.  There is no more flight activity scheduled at LGA today.

In advance of the storm, the Port Authority made plans to provide busing in the event that service on AirTrain Newark or AirTrain JFK must be suspended.

Given the severity of the storm, travelers should check with their carriers to make sure their flight will be taking off before going to the airport today. If warranted, the Port Authority also is prepared to partner with airlines and terminal operators to accommodate ticketed passengers who may become stranded at the airports.  Each airport is stocked with critical supplies such as cots, blankets, diapers and baby formula to provide stranded customers.

At the tunnels, bridges and bus facilities, the Port Authority reports that major long haul carriers Greyhound, Shortline, Peter Pan and Bieber have cancelled service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal today.  Additional long-haul and commuter service out of the bus terminal may be cancelled as the day progresses.  Travelers should check with their carriers before going to the bus terminal.

Speed restrictions are in place at the George Washington Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing due to the severe weather.

PATH is operating regular service today, but travelers should expect possible delays in service if conditions worsen.

The Port Authority has the following winter weather equipment and supplies ready at its major transportation facilities:

  • 524 pieces of snow equipment at its airports, including melters that can liquefy up to 500 tons of snow an hour and plows that can clear snow at 40 mph;
  • 94 pieces of snow equipment at its bridges and tunnels;
  • Thousands of tons of salt and sand for airport roads and parking lots, plus thousands of tons of salt and sand for the bridges and tunnels;
  • Hundreds of thousands of gallons of liquid anti-ice chemicals at the airports, which prevent snow and ice from bonding to runways and taxiways, plus thousands of tons of solid de-icers, which break up snow and ice already on the ground;
  • Plow equipped trains, liquid snow-melting agent trains and a “jet engine” plow to remove snow from PATH tracks, and snow blowers, plows and spreaders to clear station entrances, roads that serve PATH’s 13 stations, and various support facilities.
  • Generators and pumps have been checked to assure all are operational if needed.

New York State Power Authority

The New York Power Authority and the Canal Corporation storm preparations include weather monitoring, preparing staff for potential deployment, readying equipment for emergency use, and staffing of state Emergency Operations Centers, as needed.

New York State Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation

New York State Parks has alerted park police and park personnel to closely monitor weather updates. Due to visitor safety concerns resulting from severe weather, including widespread ice accretion, all state parks on Long Island as well as FDR Four Freedoms in New York City are closing immediately. Park patrons should monitor www.parks.ny.gov or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.

MTA New York City Transit

New York City Transit has pre-deployed equipment and personnel in preparation for potential significant snow accumulation, with activities having begun Tuesday before snowfall. Equipment includes de-icer trains, snowthrowers and jet snowblowers for yards and tracks, debris trains to support clearing fallen trees from tracks, third-rail heaters, track switch and stop heaters, and ice-scraping shoes installed on diesel and passenger trains. Most articulated buses have been replaced by regular buses, and local buses are chained. NYC Transit also deploys snow-fighting equipment to supplement plowing efforts across the city.

Additional personnel are manning special command centers for subway, bus and Access-A-Ride paratransit operations, including posting at strategic locations to respond to problems more rapidly.  Work trains will operate in open areas to keep tracks clear of snow and ice, and construction and maintenance work may be suspended during the storm. Signal maintainers have performed winterization procedures including releasing condensation from the air line network and are clearing ice from signal stop arms. Workers are sanding and salting platforms, stairs and other station surfaces and clearing accumulation as necessary.

Subway, bus and paratransit customers should expect weather-related delays and changes in service, including selective suspensions of service, during and immediately after the storm. Paratransit customers should consider limiting travel during the storm to medically necessary trips. Some express subway service may end early on Wednesday after the evening rush, as underground express tracks are used to store trains normally kept in open yards. If conditions are severe, subway service may be limited to underground-only track.  Staten Island Railway service will run local-only for the evening rush. In the event of severely adverse road conditions, Staten Island bus customers who commute to Manhattan may consider leaving early or allowing extra travel time during or before the PM rush. All service changes will be announced to customers; for the latest service updates, visit www.mta.info, follow NYC Transit on Twitter at @NYCTSubway, @NYCTBus and @NYCTAAR, or sign up for email and text-message updates at www.myMTAalerts.com.

MTA Metro-North Railroad

On Wednesday, in order to reduce the possibility of switch trouble, Metro-North is operating a reduced weekday schedule providing 75 percent of normal capacity, with some combined/cancelled trains during the peak periods. Conditions are expected to deteriorate during the day, making travel extremely difficult or even impossible.

In the evening, Metro-North plans to further reduce its service to hourly to ensure customer safety during the storm. Metro-North may suspend service should conditions worsen.

The railroad encourages customers to travel only if necessary and urges those customers who are unable to postpone their travel until after the storm to leave as early as possible in the afternoon and leave extra time for travel. Customers should anticipate delays due to the effects of the winter storm throughout Metro-North’s service territory.

For updated train schedules, customers can use the use the Metro-North Train Time App or Metro-North’s interactive schedules page at http://as0.mta.info/mnr/schedules/sched_form.cfm.

The railroad has pre-positioned switching engines at all yards to assist any trains that may become disabled. All trains have been prepared with third rail show shoes and coupler snow bags, and door tracks will be sprayed with de-icer to reduce the instances of door malfunctions.

Personnel have been pre-positioned to clear snow and ice from station platforms and train yards, respond to fallen trees, repair any overhead wire damage and ensure proper functioning of switches.

MTA Long Island Rail Road

All station waiting room will remain open throughout the storm period and additional customer ambassadors will be on hand to assist customers at stations.

Should snow accumulations reach 10+ inches, the railroad may temporarily suspend service to focus on snow-clearing activity. The railroad recommends that customers defer non-essential travel, leave plenty of time and anticipate delays because of potentially hazardous conditions.

On Tuesday evening, the LIRR began operating four trains that applied deicing fluid to the railroad’s third rails to reduce the chance of snow and ice buildup.

Throughout the storm period, the railroad will have switch heater crews active to ensure functionality of the railroad’s electric and gas switch heaters, which keep switches operable by preventing snow and ice buildup.

The railroad also pre-salted platforms on Tuesday night and at 6 a.m. Wednesday, began mobilizing snow clearing crews for snow clearance activities throughout the storm. Rail-mounted snow blowers are pre-positioned at strategic track switching locations across railroad’s service territory.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels

MTA Bridges and Tunnels is closely monitoring the conditions and personnel are ready and prepared to respond to all weather-related incidents. Staffing levels will be evaluated throughout the event to ensure efficient deployment of personnel and resources. Electronic weather sensors on the Bridges are functional, and all facilities have the ability to monitor weather and roadway conditions. Equipment and supplies such as deicer, snow trucks with plows, facility generators, fuel, hand-held anemometers are at adequate levels and in use, with more than 8,000 tons of roadway deicer on hand and 101 pieces of storm fighting equipment for storm operations, including conveyors, pay loaders, front loaders, pick-up trucks with plows, for storm operations.

Safe Travel 
It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit, to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. Oftentimes on interstate highways, snowplows will operate side by side, as this is the most efficient and safe way to clear several lanes at one time.

Motorists and pedestrians should also keep in mind that snowplow drivers have limited lines of sight, and the size and weight of snowplows can make it very difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. Snow blowing from behind the plow can severely reduce visibility or cause whiteout conditions. Motorists should not attempt to pass snowplows or follow too closely. The safest place for motorists to drive is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.

Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:

  • When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
  • If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly-colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
  • Keep your gas tank full to prevent gasoline freeze-up.
  • If you have a cell phone or two-way radio available for your use, keep the battery charged and keep it with you whenever traveling. If you should become stranded, you will be able to call for help, advising rescuers of your location.
  • Make sure someone knows your travel plans.

Drive Safely

The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, ensure that your vehicles clear of ice and snow. Good vision is a key to good driving. Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars, be extra alert, and remember, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Moreover, always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

Prepare for Power Outages

Governor Cuomo urges residents to stay away from any lines that are down as they may be live, and should be considered extremely dangerous. Motorists are reminded that State Law mandates that if an intersection is “blacked out” and the traffic signal is not operational, the intersection is automatically a “four way” stop. In the event of closed or blocked roadways due to flooding, downed power lines or debris, motorists are advised to exercise caution and obey all traffic signs or barricades in place, regardless of whether a roadway looks clear.

New Yorkers should also check on friends, family and neighbors, especially the elderly. Power outages can affect the ability of individuals to heat their homes, which could lead to dangerously cold temperatures in the winter months.

The Governor is offering these additional safety tips:

  • At home or at work, keep a battery-operated radio and flashlight on hand, as well as a supply of batteries. Keep an emergency supply of water, medications, and non-perishable foods handy. If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem – check with your physician or pharmacist.
  • Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power. Charge cell phones and any battery-powered devices.
  • If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving an inch of space inside each one – this will help keep food cold if the power goes out.
  • At home or at work, keep a battery-operated radio and flashlight on hand, as well as a supply of batteries. Keep an emergency supply of water, medications, and non-perishable foods handy. If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem – check with your physician or pharmacist.
  • Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power. Charge cell phones and any battery-powered devices.
  • If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving an inch of space inside each one – this will help keep food cold if the power goes out.

If You Lose Power

  • Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage and listen to local broadcasts for official information. For a list of utilities, visit the New York State Department of Public Service. Check to see if your neighbors have power. Check on people with access or functional needs.
  • Use only flashlights for emergency lighting – candles pose the risk of fire.
  • Keep refrigerators and freezer doors closed – most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
  • Do not use a charcoal grill indoors and do not use a gas stove for heat – they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide.
  • In cold weather, stay warm by dressing in layers and minimizing time spent outdoors. Be aware of cold stress symptoms (i.e., hypothermia) and seek proper medical attention if symptoms appear.

After a Power Outage

  • Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40°F (4°C) for two or more hours, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. “When in doubt, throw it out.”
  • If food in the freezer is colder than 40°F and has ice crystals on it, it can be re-frozen.
  • If you are concerned about medications having spoiled, contact your doctor.

Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods and other supplies.

SOURCE- www.governor.ny.gov

God Bless.

Bruce Johnson  RIGHT WING TRIBUNE

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