Agencies ready for possible ice storm

Electrical linemen from Syracuse IBEW 1249 begin staging Saturday in the parking lot of the Potsdam Walmart. Plazas and large parking lots around the north country are filling up as utility workers from the Northeast and beyond prepare for the expected ice storm. Christopher Lenney/ Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — With northern and western St. Lawrence, Clinton and Franklin counties under an ice storm warning on Saturday, the National Weather Service and others were offering tips to survive the weather event.

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The ice-storm warning was in effect until 1 p.m. today, with the National Weather Service predicting heavy freezing rain and total ice accumulations of a half-inch to one inch expected. The highest amounts were forecast for the St. Lawrence Valley.

It said rain was expected to change to freezing rain late Saturday night and continue into this morning, with moderate to heavy freezing rain expected at times. The forecast called for the freezing rain to end as a brief period of snow Sunday afternoon.

In addition, gusty southwest winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour were expected to develop this afternoon, impacting ice-laden trees and power lines.

The National Weather Service recommended that travel be restricted to emergencies only, and advised residents to prepare for extended power outages.

Massena Mayor Timmy J. Currier said Saturday afternoon that he had been working with local officials to coordinate the village’s response.

“Our public safety agencies, public works crews and other departments plan for weather events and we will respond appropriately. The best thing our citizens can do is take time to make sure that you are prepared for this weather event and to use good judgment should the forecasted ice storm come. Safety should be your top priority,” he said in a social media posting.

Mr. Currier recommended that home emergency supplies include flashlights and extra batteries, battery-operated radio and extra batteries, emergency non-perishable foods that do not require refrigeration, non-electric can opener, bottled water, one-week supply of essential medicines, extra blankets and sleeping bags, first aid kit and manual, fire extinguisher, and emergency heating equipment, used properly.

The Massena Volunteer Fire Department also offered tips on its Facebook page:

Stock up: Ensure all necessities your family might need in the event of a power outage or travel advisory are stocked and available. Items included basic food supplies, water, medicine, as well as batteries and battery-powered lighting. Also, ensure your cell phone is charged and ready.

Have an emergency plan: Have a plan for you and your family which includes important phone contacts as well as meeting places in the event of different types of emergencies.

Avoid travel during the storm if possible.

“Stay indoors and off the roads if this storm materializes. Emergency and highway crews will need room to work safely to reach those in need. Keeping the roads clear of unnecessary traffic helps us do our jobs safely and efficiently and helps prevent further accidents,” it said.

If your home loses heat: Seal off rooms to help conserve heat. Make sure pets are inside and looked after. Dress in layers and use blankets. Never use items such as generators, stoves, grills, gas lanterns or heaters indoors. These items can be a source of carbon monoxide and lead to poisoning as well as start fires. Never attempt to heat your home with a stove.

The department also advised checking basements that were prone to flooding to make sure the sump pump worked, or to replace it, and to make sure anything of value was up and off the floor.

“When call volumes get high we are limited by the amount of manpower we can provide and the amount of equipment we have. So understand that we prioritize calls based on the greatest need,” it said.

A flooded basement with water in danger of reaching utilities will have a higher priority than other flooded basements, it said.

The village of Massena Department of Public Works also advised residents to keep cars off the roadways to allow crews to open up catch basins and salt/clear the roadways if needed.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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