Thousands of New Yorkers still without power

December 13, 2008 6:28:59 PM PST
Tens of thousands of people remained without electricity Saturday after a debilitating ice storm swept through eastern New York. The storm moved through the area Thursday and Friday, leaving some parts of the Hudson Valley up to the southern Adirondacks coated with up to a half-inch of ice that felled trees and knocked down power lines. At its peak, the storm knocked out power to more than a quarter-million homes and businesses.

At least two deaths appear to be related to the storm.

Police in Glenville - about 30 miles north of Albany - said a couple apparently died accidentally after a gas-powered generator that was running in an attached garage filled their house with carbon monoxide.

Emergency workers responded to the home after a family member found 65-year-old Ralph Fazio Jr. unresponsive in a chair in the living room. His wife, 61-year-old Mary Fazio, was found in an upstairs bedroom. Autopsies found that they both died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Separately, two people in the Albany suburb of Colonie were taken to a hospital suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning after using a hibachi grill in their house.

Gov. David Paterson declared a state of emergency Saturday to speed assistance to 16 counties that were hit hardest.

Utilities, scrambling to restore power, are calling in help from other states. Paterson said the emergency declaration will help bring out-of-state utility crews into New York faster and make state aid available to local governments in the storm's aftermath.

Crews worked through the Friday night to clear roads blocked by trees and downed power lines and continued to work through Saturday.

National Grid - which serves the Albany area - said it had as many as 229,000 customers without power during the worst of the storm. By Saturday evening, crews had restored power to 100,000 of them, said utility spokesman Patrick Stella.

The utility had more than 600 repair crews - some from as far away as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania - spread out through the region cleaning up the mess and getting everyone's power restored. Stella said the utility expects to have most of them back online by Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in the Hudson Valley, some 22,000 Central Hudson Gas & Electric customers remained without power Saturday afternoon. Some of them - mainly in northern Dutchess and southern Columbia counties, which were particularly hard hit - might not have their power restored until Tuesday, said utility spokesman John Maserjian.

About 27,000 New York State Electric & Gas customers in parts of Saratoga, Washington, Rensselaer and Columbia counties remained without power Saturday evening. The utility said some of them will not have power restored until the middle of next week.