Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Power outages, damage hit County hard during Tuesday’s storms

When the torrential rains, lightning and wind swept through the area on Tuesday afternoon, the 911 calls for trees and wires down was somewhat expected. No one realized the severity of the weather until reports began filtering in from different areas. The storms missed pockets in some towns and wiped out power lines and trees in others for a day, or more.

Some residents in the Town of Marion threw away frozen foods as freezers failed and power was off for up to 13 hours. A few miles away in parts of Walworth, the rains and wind brought little more than a nature spectacle.

Drivers along the Route 31 corridor from Newark to Palmyra pulled over to the side of the road as wind-swept rains made travel nearly impossible.

In Sodus, a barn on Route 88 travelled across the highway to the other side. Trees were uprooted and some homes and vehicles sustained damage.

Perhaps the brunt of the damage was felt after a major power line was interrupted by a 21 pole wipe-out on Bowerman Road in Farmington. RG&E worked throughout the day and night in an effort to bring the number of residential power outages down.

WalMart manager Kurt Spindler considered the 3-4 hour outage at his Route 31-Macedon store to be difficult, but made easier by employees and RG&E electricians. “We have a great team of associates here. Everyone stepped up. Several other WalMarts sent associates to work with us to get up and running as quickly as possible,” stated the grateful manager.

According Spindler, the Victor WalMart suffered even worse losses due to the storm, with 11 hours of outage.

He noted that RG&E was spread very thin, but they did their best for the store. “We were back with power in about 3 hours (by 7:30 pm), but the voltage to our refrigerated sections was not strong enough or stable enough. We ended up renting a generator large enough to run all our refrigeration for meats, deli, dairy and frozen, so that we could safely restock those area,” explained Spindler. “Everything had to be scanned out that night, in order to get replenishments.”

Customers did see some down time

and associates reassured those who drove up to the doors, that WalMart was working as fast as possible to reopen and assure that no spoiled food was sold. Not only did items have to be restocked, but the wait included some time for the cash registers to become operational. “We do have backup power for the registers, but it is not a long charge. Although the store power – lighting – was operational sooner, we had to wait until registers were available to check our customers out,” said Spindler.

“Most of the customers who had to be turned away for a short time, were very understanding. We are grateful for their support and understanding.”

Town of Palmyra residents on Parker Rd felt the full fury of a severe microburst storm that tore through the area around 5 pm on Tuesday, July 8. Hit-and-miss straightline winds moved across the town of Farmington on a northeasterly path across Wayne County literally scalping the home of Jon and Jessica Westerman on Parker Rd. It ripped a large portion of the metal roof and a brick chimney from the front of their home, carrying it about 50 feet toward the road and leaving debris hanging in a tree and on power lines as it crossed their yard.

In addition, it also flipped a dock in their large pond behind the house and pushed a trailer containing two snowmobiles, which was parked next to a small barn, about 20 feet into their driveway. The wind also broke a 20-foot section out of the top of a large evergreen tree in their lawn near the road which pulled down power lines as it went and destroyed a large cedar tree nearby.

Jessica Westerman was in the house at the time with her month-old baby and her sister. “We looked out the window and it looked like the ocean was bashing against the side of the house. When I first heard it, I thought it was the porch furniture being blown around but my neighbor called when it was over to ask if we were okay and said that part of our roof had blown off.”

Jon Westerman said he was at work at the time and was surprised at the extent of the damage when he arrived home. He reported an emergency roof repair crew was on its way to the property from Syracuse about 7 pm and would commence work after electric company workers could secure the area. No injuries were reported.

Around the corner from Westermans, when Kelly Hunter went to her in-laws’ property on Jeffery Rd she found several trees broken in half and one uprooted in front of their barn. Power lines that cross the property through a wooded west of the barn area were pulled down as well. She pointed out one of the trees was a very old Tulip tree that many out-of-town visitors had stopped to admire over the years because it was so unusual. She also cited another tree that was leaning dangerously over the road and said it would probably be taken down.

Palmyra resident Adrienne Goodman was driving on Bowerman Rd in Farmington when the storm hit. She pulled off the road and the almost-brand-new car she was driving. The vehicle which belongs to Matt LaMora, a Palmyra Highway Department employee, was severely damaged by what he described as shrapnel when as many as 21 utility poles came crashing down around her. Because of the downed lines, she had to walk about 2 miles before being picked up for a ride home. Although shaken up from the experience, Goodman was not injured.

Highway Department crews were out until dark assessing damage and preparing for cleanup operations. Highway Superintendent Michael Boesel reported most of the damage in Palmyra was on Jeffrey, Parker and Jagger roads with slight to moderate damage elsewhere throughout the town and village, including the village cemetery. He also said there were many “hangers and leaners” threatening utility lines that his crews would be removing in the following few days.

Palmyra Parks and Cemetery workers were out the next morning removing several downed and damaged trees in the cemetery. Many of the trees on the property and adjoining St. Anne’s Cemetery are over a century old and suffering from disease or complications from previous damage, which weakens them and makes them vulnerable to violent weather. Some monuments were damaged by the fallen trees, but the extent has not been determined at this time.

At the same time, in an unrelated incident, Wayne County Water and Sewer workers were called to East Palmyra where a leak had developed in a valve at the corner of Main and West streets. According to a WCWS representative, the plastic waterline used in modern installations attracts static electricity from utility poles causing bolts to rust and deteriorate. “…Now we ground these when we are called out to repair them, which should prevent it from happening again.”

He explained that because of the way the lines are set up in the East Palmyra area, there are no loops where service can be diverted so there is not interruption in service to people further down the line. In case of emergency repairs, there is no time to inform residents that their service will be interrupted. “We have a 4-hour window in which to respond and fix the problem; otherwise they have to be reported to Public Health officials, which could open the situation up to all sorts of red tape and other issues.”

(reporting contributed by Jessica Colon, Patti Holdraker, Beth Hoad)