POTSDAM — Approximately 4,200 National Grid customers, from Watertown to the Malone area, suffered from power outages during Thursday's storm, but the area that suffered the greatest was Potsdam.
With more than 20 calls throughout the area, Potsdam Volunteer Fire Chief Timothy L. Jerome said his team of six fire trucks were in a blur of activity that started at about 6 p.m. and kept him busy until between 10 and 11 p.m.
Most of the calls were related to trees in the road or on live power lines, causing small fires and knocking out power.
St. Lawrence County Emergency Management Deputy Director Jonathan W. Mitchell said that while there were no reports of major damage or flooding, he had been traveling through Potsdam at the time of the storm, calling it one of the worst he’s seen in his five years living in the area.
“I was on my way home from West Stockholm and I couldn’t see five feet in front of me and there were chairs and tables being blown across the road,” he said. “The had trees down and wires down in front of Clarkson with the fire there. We had some power outages as well but there was no roadway flooding or anything like that. Mainly just a lot of water and a lot of wind.”
It was that wind that was a contributing factor in the at least 2,350 power outages in the village between Lawrence Avenue and Pine Street alone, according to National Grid Spokeswoman Virginia Limmiatis.
She said there were 1,500 customers without power on Lawrence Avenue and 850 on Pine Street between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“In a storm situation, depending on the velocity of the wind, what we normally see is a chain reaction where the wind comes in, the velocity and the strength of the wind and coupled with an enormous amount of rain usually uproots trees in some cases but it’s the wind that usually knocks down limbs that impact the overhead lines. So that’s what we generally see is debris from the trees hitting our overhead lines, bringing them down, and in some cases it’s whole trees.”
While the wind and rain were to blame for a lot of the outages, there was a large amount of lightening activity throughout the clouds above which, not only put on a beautiful show of nature, but also was the direct case of several power outages in Canton and Norwood, Ms. Limmiatis said.
Between about 10:51 p.m. and 11:51 p.m. lightening caused 53 customers to lose power on County Route 24 in Canton, while 13 customers lost power on Hewittville Road in Norwood between 7:25 p.m. 10:40 p.m.