Fierce storm leads to two-day power outage

Keith Nautel runs chainsaws to help a friend cleanup the front yard after a tree toppled on Friday night along Lynnwood Dr. in Niskayuna. (Marc Schultz)Keith Nautel runs chainsaws to help a friend cleanup the front yard after a tree toppled on Friday night along Lynnwood Dr. in Niskayuna. (Marc Schultz)

ANDREW BEAM
Gazette reporter

NISKAYUNA — Scores of Niskayuna residents spent last weekend without power after a storm knocked out service to most of Rosendale Estates and tens of thousands of other customers around the region.

Many residents lost power after the storm hit the night of May 4, knocking down trees and power lines around the area.

Niskayuna Town Board Member Denise Murphy McGraw was one of those residents without power. She said most of her neighborhood, Rosendale Estates, was without power until it was restored the afternoon of May 6.

She said her daughter, who is in the middle of studying for tests for the end of the school year, had to go to Starbucks to do her work. However, she understood their situation was not a bad one.

“We aren’t seniors. Our health is good,” McGraw said. “But we do have a fridge full of food that will be tossed.”

Troy and Christina Bradshaw, who live just up the road, had a nearly 30-foot oak tree fall in their yard. Family friend Keith Nautel, a Plum Street resident, was there with a chain saw to cut it up.

Nautel said his neighborhood still had power and that the storm seemed to target one specific area of the town. But when he drove through the Bradshaws’ neighborhood and saw what happened with their tree, he offered to help.

“People have been stopping by to get firewood,” Nautel said.

The Bradshaws, who are originally from North Carolina, seemed unfazed. As they cooked on their gas stove by flashlight, they said intense storms are something they’re used to. But what they weren’t used to was how long the power was out.

“The storm wasn’t that bad,” Christina said.

They said the worst of the storm came just as they arrived home Friday following a Toys R’ Us run. Troy said that when he unloaded the car and came back inside, he heard a boom. The power was out and their tree was down.

“I heard a huge gust of wind and went and looked at the tree because I was worried about it,” Christina said.

Troy said he called 911 because the tree had fallen across the road, almost into their neighbor’s yard. “We felt bad about it,” Christina said.

McGraw said power was restored to her neighborhood around 4:30 p.m. on May 6.

Even more widespread outages were reported north and west of Niskayuna, as thousands of customers in Saratoga and Fulton counties spent most of the weekend without power. In those counties, National Grid and

As of Sunday evening in Saratoga County, about 1,700 customers were still without power, according to National Grid. Fulton County reportedly had more than 1,000 customers without power Sunday night. They were expected to have their power restored by Monday night.

Statewide, National Grid said it had restored power to approximately 186,000 of the 203,000 of its customers who lost power in the storm.

The severity of the storm — which brought 70 mph winds in some areas, according to the press release — was what caused nearly 50,000 people in the Capital Region to lose power at the height of the outage, said National Grid spokeswoman Karen Polise.

“The severity of the storm really just knocked down a lot of trees and broke poles,” Polise said. “It was very widespread.”

To work on the outages, National Grid had more than 2,200 line, service and tree workers out doing repairs, according to the press release.

Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo praised National Grid, and New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) crews, for their work in restoring power to residents. He said places in the county that suffered the most power outages included the towns of Malta, Edinburg and Day.

People still seemed prepared for the outages, Zurlo said, as he said those areas usually lose power when storms come through.

“People are kind of used to this,” Zurlo said. “They’ve prepared themselves.”

In Fulton County, though, there were approximately 8,000 without power following the storm Friday, according Steve Santa Maria, its civil defense and fire coordinator.

There was a station set up by National Grid at the Broadalbin Fire Department, where people could get dry ice and bottled water. This was offered to other counties in its coverage area as well. Residents can get dry ice and water at the Broadalbin Fire Department on Monday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Schenectady County also saw more than 100 customers without power, with many of them residing in Niskayuna.

During the mid-afternoon on Sunday, there were two Lewis Tree Service trucks and two National Grid trucks spotted performing repairs and cleanup.

About the Author

Erin K. O'Neill
Erin K. O'Neill is the Web Editor at The Daily Gazette of Schenectady, NY.