Governor Cuomo is continuing storm preparations across the State of New York for the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy over the coming days. Cuomo has also begun deploying members of his cabinet to all regions of the State to coordinate with local officials, monitor the storm’s progress, and serve as the primary points of contact to provide real-time reports from the ground.
“As we continue to track the path of Hurricane Sandy, state agency preparations for the Hurricane are mobilizing across New York so that we can all face the storm calmly and safely,” Cuomo said. “I urge New Yorkers to keep following news reports on the storm’s path and make preparations now to protect themselves.”
The State Department of Transportation (DOT) is actively preparing for the storm by readying equipment; organizing crews to remove trees and limbs on roadways and trimming trees that could affect electrical lines; identifying staff that will conduct flood watches; and monitoring bridges as water rises. Crews are clearing as much debris and floatable objects as possible that could be picked up by storm water and cause damage, create hazards, or clog roads and the areas underneath bridges. DOT is paying particular attention to areas prone to flooding and clogging. DOT is also clearing culverts and drainage basins to ensure they flow freely.
With the uncertainty of where the storm will hit, all 11 DOT regions are prepared to respond within their regions. In addition, DOT has identified 405 people, 90 dump trucks, 13 bucket trucks, 24 excavators, 24 loaders and 42 chippers for storm response deployment.
DOT has issued the following safety tips for travelers:·
If there is water covering a road or bridge, do not try to drive through it! It only takes two inches of flowing water to carrying away a vehicle.
· If traffic signals are dark from a power outage, treat them as all-way stop signs.
· The public is urged not to travel during the storm if conditions make travel dangerous. Dangerous conditions include high winds that could blow trees or power lines onto roadways or cause debris to fall on roads or vehicles, as well as heavy rains that reduce visibility and cause water to cover roads and bridges.
· Motorists are strongly urged to check 511NY before traveling to access current road conditions. 511NY is available by calling 5-1-1, visiting www.511NY.org, or by downloading the new mobile app for smart phones. 511NY will have up-to-date information regarding road and bridge closures, as well as transit, commuter rail, and airport delays.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has determined that there are no general operational issues at its generation and transmission facilities. Virtually all of the statewide public power utility’s hydroelectric and natural gas-fueled facilities will be available for round-the-clock operation. NYPA has undertaken close inspections of the sites of its facilities to ensure that equipment is safely secured against strong winds and other extreme weather conditions and that there is no potential for flying debris. Sump pumps for removing water at the plant sites and at transmission substations are available if needed, and backup generators have been fully fueled.
Senior staff members have been dispatched to the various NYPA sites around the state. Generally required resources, including personnel, equipment and vehicles, are available. Other utility companies are making preparations that include:
o NYSEG has a staff of 440 full-time personnel comprising of 220 crews, 107 tree-trimming contractors, and 59 contractor crews available.
o National Grid is currently in “Full Mobilization Mode” with 300 line crews, 50 contractors, and 200 tree-trimming crews available.
These utility companies have made requests for thousands of personnel from out of state utilities that are not affected by the storm. These personnel will be deployed once specific impacts from the storm are known.
The State Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will procure 200-300 thousand pounds of dry ice for distribution to affected areas. OEM can provide Guard members to assist utilities with sandbagging critical stations, if needed.
FINANCIAL AND INSURANCE PROTECTION
The Department of Financial Services (DFS) advises New Yorkers to prepare now for property damage and losses caused by Hurricane Sandy by making sure they know how their insurance works if they need to file claims, as well as to have their insurance information readily available including copies of all insurance policies, insurance cards, and 24-hour contact information for their insurance agent, broker or company. In the event wind and heavy rain cause property damage, DFS issued the following steps for homeowners to recover quickly from storm-related losses:
· Contact your insurance company, agent or broker to report property losses as quickly as possible. It is also a good idea to follow-up a phone call by submitting the claim in writing.
· Document losses by taking photos or videos showing the extent of property damage.
· Make repairs needed to prevent further damage from occurring to a home, including covering broken windows or leaking roofs, but don’t make permanent repairs until after receiving written approval from the insurance company or the company’s authorized representative.
· Keep all receipts for any necessary inspections or repairs. Such expenses might be reimbursed under the homeowner’s policy.
· Keep personal property that has been damaged until after the insurance settlement.
· Contact your insurance company to see if your homeowners’ policy covers additional living expenses if your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot stay there.
· Cooperate fully with the insurance company and provide the information requested. Providing incorrect or incomplete information may delay the process.
· Always keep detailed notes about conversations with the insurance company or agent. These notes should include the name and contact information of the person spoken to, the date and time of the conversation, and details about what was said.
· Consumers can find additional information at www.dfs.ny.gov.
DEC has also issued the following tips for New Yorkers and businesses:
Oil Tank Precautions: Owners of commercial and residential fuel oil tanks located in flood-prone areas should take precautions to minimize risk for flooding of the tank. Check tanks for the following (a tank contractor may be needed to check the tank and make any needed improvements):o The tank should be protected from floating or toppling over by flood waters or high winds;
o The tank should be protected from falling limbs, floating debris, or high currents;
o Connections to the tank (fill pipe, vent, gauge, bungs) should be water tight;
o If the fill port or top of the vent could be flooded, the cap to the fill pipe should be securely fastened and the vent pipe should be extended to above the worst case water level.These precautions should also be taken for underground tanks or tanks in basements.
In the Event of an Oil Spill: If your home is affected by a flood that causes an oil spill in or near your home, you should contact DEC’s Spill Hotline immediately at 1-800-457-7362 to report the spill. In some cases, the oil mixes with the water that floods your home. If so, do NOT pump the water out into your yard. The oil may spread and contaminate other areas, including nearby wells, water bodies and homes. If a layer of oil is on water in a basement, you can minimize the amount of oil spread on walls and floors and the amount of other damage to your property by removing the oil before pumping the water out.o For an oil film, absorbent pads may be sufficient to collect the oil.
o For a thicker layer of oil, a vacuum truck may be necessary to skim the oil off the water. Oil spills can also contaminate indoor air. The State Department of Health (DOH) is available to answer questions at 518-402-7810 or 800-458-1158. After hours and on weekends, call 1-866-881-2809. Oil-contaminated debris or material contaminated with other petroleum products should be segregated and stored in a well-ventilated area. If stored outdoors, piles should be covered to keep precipitation from contaminating nearby soil and water. Any chemical or oil spills, such as from oil home heating tanks, must be reported to DEC through the Spill Hotline. For more information on steps to minimize the damage and finish the cleanup quickly, visit http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/indoors/air/oil_spill_flood.htm.
DEC advises all hunters, hikers and campers to be out of the woods by dark on Sunday, October 28. DEC’s Fish Creek Campground in Franklin County will close Sunday night. Weekday reservations are not being accepted. Those planning to hunt, hike, camp, boat or paddle on the lands and waters of the Adirondacks and Catskills next week should pay close attention to weather reports. Nobody should be in the backcountry or on the waters when the storm hits. Outdoor recreationists should stay out of the backcountry and off the water until after the storm has passed and DEC has determined the resulting damages. DEC will provide information on its website regarding blowdown and flooding that may make the backcountry unsafe to access.
For more information on preparation, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/76659.html.
DEPLOYMENT OF CABINET MEMBERS
The Governor has begun deploying members of his cabinet across New York to coordinate with local officials, monitor the progress of the storm, and serve as the primary points of contact to provide real-time reports from the ground to the Governor and Director of State Operations.