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Windstorm slams Essex County

It wasn't the kind of anniversary present the region wanted, but North Country was treated to a wind storm almost 10 years to the day after the 1998 Ice Storm. On Jan. 9, the region was hit with a storm with powerful winds that knocked out power to thousands of residents in Essex County. Essex County Emergency Services Director Raymond Thatcher said the two hardest hit communities were Lewis and Jay. Residents in Westport and Keene also lost power. It was more severe than a lot of the windstorms we have - but nowhere near the comparison of the ice storm, said Thatcher. The towns of Jay and Black Brook declared states of emergency, which ran through Jan. 11. The declaration was to restrict all unnecessary travel. We had an emergency situation in the Au Sable Acres at approximately 7:30 p.m., in which a woman was trapped in her vehicle with two small children, with power lines surrounding her. These situations ultimately lead to our decision to declare a state of emergency, said Jay Supervisor Randall Douglas. The power outage resulted in several road closures in Elizabethtown. Several area schools were shut down, including Au Sable Valley, Keene and Elizabethtown-Lewis. In Wilmington, a downed power line on Springfield Road caused a power failure which impacted Whiteface Mountain. Base lodges went dark, and lifts were switched to back-up power until all guests were off before closing for the day. A shelter was set up in Jay, and a warming station was set up in Lewis. It took several days to restore power to all customers. Thatcher said the response to the emergency was very good, adding that both NYSEG and National Grid were very responsive. The warm weather of last week also made the storm easier to weather, he added. The utility companies were very responsive to everything we needed and very proactive, said Thatcher. Thatcher said most of the damage was to utility structures, and it was unlike federal or state aid would be available for damages incurred.

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