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October storm strikes, many lose power

HARLEM VALLEY — Residents throughout the Northeast got more trick than treat thanks to a late October storm that wiped out power for hundreds of thousands along the East Coast — leaving them without light and heat for days on end.“We’re still out of power said Pine Plains town Supervisor Gregg Pulver on Monday afternoon, adding the town did all right considering the severity of the storm. “We had a pre-storm meeting with the highway superintendent, chief of police, fire chief and others involved in emergency planning, about what to do. A lot of trees came down and the power is out but not the number of trees we were worried about. We were able to get the town mobile pretty quickly.”By Tuesday morning 80 percent of the town had its power restored, and Pulver said he hoped to see full restoration shortly thereafter.Pine Plains was also the first town in Dutchess County to open a warming center, at the HoPP Community Center, on the second floor of the library. Following the storm folks were able to stop by to get warm, eat a hot meal, charge their cell phones and use the bathrooms. Although not open overnight, Pulver said the warming center provided basic amenities to those in need.There was also a centrally-located, 24-hour shelter at the Home and Farm Center in Millbrook, organized by the Dutchess County Department of Emergency Response, located on Route 343 in Millbrook.Additionally, there was a warming center in Millerton, at the American Legion Hall Post 178; residents could also stop by Town Hall to recharge themselves and get warm.The village of Millerton and town of North East traveled a spotty road back to full power, with some areas of the town never losing power while others were out for days. Even Main Street was half in the dark at one point; some businesses were fortunate enough to have energy restored quickly and therefore were able to serve the public shortly after the storm.It took longer to deal with the debris — the leaf-laden limbs hanging from the trees weighed down power lines in the village, creating potentially dangerous situations.“It’s nuts, it was raining limbs all night,” said Millerton resident Jennifer Roussel, adding some limbs were so low on Route 112 they were brushing her car as she drove.It was more of the same throughout town, where century-old trees have split and fallen, leaving once-lush landscapes and leafy village streets barren and plain.“We’re so sad about all the trees hammered by the storm. We’re getting a tree guy to see what can be saved,” said Townscape President Chris Kennan. “We’re also going to do an effort to replace trees that were lost. We very much want to get the village back to what it was looking like before the storm.”In Amenia and Wassaic, residents were in the dark for days after the storm. Power there is provided through New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG). Amenia has 12,030 customers; as of Tuesday morning 348 were still without power. Wassaic has 653 customers; as of Tuesday morning 89 were without power. By Monday night, power had been restored throughout most of the town. NYSEG estimated that by Wednesday it would have 90 percent of its customers restored to power.The storm brought with it its own dangers — downed power lines included — like one sparking wire that smouldered for days behind the Roundtuit restaurant in Millerton and another that crossed both lanes of traffic on Route 22 in Wassaic, near Furnace Bank Road.“Someone is going to get killed if they don’t do something,” said Roundtuit owner Dale Culver.Also in Wassaic there was a storm-related house fire. According to town Supervisor Wayne Euvrard it was reportedly caused when a cat knocked over a candle and set the house ablaze. The home, which was located next door to Cousins Mini Mart and gas station on Route 22 in Wassaic, was a total loss.The town of Washington and village of Millbrook also suffered greatly from the storm — roads were closed due to downed power lines and trees. According to Washington Highway Superintendent James Brownell, the timing of the storm — and the fact that there was still a lot of foliage on the trees — really made a difference.“At the height of the storm eight roads were closed because trees and wires were down that we were not supposed to touch,” he said. It was nothing like the October storm of ‘87 thank God, but there’s more of a mess and it will take quite a while cleaning up. It’s too bad it wasn’t a normal snow event. It was the trees and wires that made it really challenging.”Washington town Supervisor Florence Prisco said while it’s tough to predict Mother Nature, she, Brownell and Millbrook Mayor Laura Hurley, did the best they could.“I think we were very well equipped, as a matter of fact,” she said. “You’re never prepared for this kind of thing, truly, but we were as prepared as you can be.”

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