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Cuomo today outlined New York State's preparations and urged New Yorkers to take precautions for the ice, sleet and snow storm that has all of New York State under a Winter Storm Watch or Warning for Tuesday through Wednesday. Governor Cuomo this afternoon directed the New York State Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to activate the state's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and open the State Emergency Operations Center to ensure resources and equipment are positioned for an appropriate response to the forecasted storm. "In response to the anticipated storm - including snow, ice and sleet - we have taken the steps necessary to coordinate and mobilize the resources needed to provide a timely response," Governor Cuomo said. "I urge all New Yorkers to take precautions to prepare themselves and their families as this storm approaches." The Governor's Office has been coordinating response efforts with relevant agencies and authorities including: Department of Transportation, New York State Police, Thruway Authority, Public Service Commission, Long Island Power Authority, New York Power Authority, State Office of Emergency Management, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Division of Military and Naval Affairs, and Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Steps taken to ensure readiness include: • The New York State Department of Transportation has begun pre-treating road surfaces and has more than 1,400 snow removal trucks and approximately 3,500 operators mobilized for all regions of the state including: o Long Island – 198 Snowplow Trucks and 387 Operators o Hudson Valley – 224 Snowplow Trucks and 488 Operators o Capital Region - 122 Snowplow Trucks and 273 Operators o North Country - 172 Snowplow Trucks and 465 Operators o Central New York -193 Snowplow Trucks and 555 Operators o Southern Tier - 150 Snowplow Trucks and 336 Operators o Rochester/Finger Lakes - 182 Snowplow Trucks and 463 Operators o Western New York - 181 Snowplow Trucks and 530 Operators • The Department of Public Service (DPS) is coordinating with all of the state's major electric utilities to ensure that the utilities have the necessary resources in place to deal with the expected storm. This includes activation of the New York Mutual Assistance Group, if conditions warrant, to shift crews within the state and possibly reach out to other states and Canada if needed. • The DPS will ensure that its Consumer Services Hot Line (1-800-342-3377) will be fully staffed and available to assist utility customers needing information from their service provider. Staffing of the hotline has been increased to handle additional storm-related volume.
• State Police have diverted additional 4-wheel drive vehicles to anticipated impact areas and increased patrols. • The New York National Guard Joint Operations Center is operational and monitoring the situation and stands ready to provide specialized military assets to include helicopters and high axle cargo trucks, if needed. • The Thruway Authority has implemented a new emergency preparedness plan developed with Governor Cuomo's administration which includes increased communications across agencies and a more timely response to storm events. The plan includes improved operation center readiness and, if needed, a new WNY Freeway Closure Plan. • The State Thruway Authority has 300 snow removal vehicles (snow plows, snow blowers, front-end loaders and salt spreaders) prepared system-wide and has scheduled extra staffing for dispatch, State Police and Division operations. The Authority is also starting anti-ice pretreatment of the road surface today in preparation for the impending storm. The Department of Transportation urges travelers to pay close attention to general winter road safety advice, including: • Adjust speed for road conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. Increase your following distance when roads are slippery or visibility is poor. Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations. • During a winter storm, motorists will encounter snow- and ice-covered roads even when plows are operating. Drivers must exercise extreme care and diligence while traveling during winter weather. • Stay alert! Whether driving or walking, stay focused on what you are doing. Accidents are caused by distracted driving and walking. • Watch for down power lines and signal outages. Signalized intersections where power outages occur should be regarded as a four-way stop. Use extra caution. • Bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces. Use caution. • Equip your car with emergency supplies including sand, shovel, flares, booster cables, rope, ice scraper, portable radio, flashlight, extra warm clothes and a cell phone. • Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival. • Stay calm and do not panic in case of a vehicle breakdown, accident, or if you become snowbound. Never venture from your vehicle if snowbound. • Property owners and snow plow operators are urged to help keep roadways clear of snow and ice by not depositing or stockpiling snow on or along highways. Piles of snow are hazardous to pedestrians and motorists, as snow and ice left on highways creates unsafe driving conditions and can cause other problems including walking hazards, limited sight distance and poor visibility. Dumping snow on roadways violates New York
State Motor Vehicle and Traffic Law. For safety reasons, motorists and pedestrians should give be cautious around snowplows, and should: • Stay a safe distance away from snowplows. The safest place for motorists is well behind the snowplows where the road is clear and salted. The safest place for pedestrians is on the sidewalk, and in clear vision of the snowplow driver. • Never assume that a plow driver can see you. • Yield to a snowplow, giving the plow a wide berth with room to maneuver. • Beware of deicing materials that may be released from the plow and keep your distance from them. • Motorists should make sure to have clear vision ahead and that passing is permitted before attempting to pass a snowplow. • After passing a snowplow, use caution when returning to the driving lane ahead of the plow. The plow blade extends several feet ahead of the truck. • Move as far away from the center line as safely possible when meeting a snowplow on a two-lane road coming from the opposite direction. • Watch for "white-outs" created by blowing snow coming off the snowplow blade. • Don't travel beside a plow for sustained periods, especially when the plow is cutting through deep snow. Plows can be pushed sideways after hitting drifts or snow banks. The State Office of Emergency Management reminded New Yorkers of basic safety actions they should follow over the course of the next few days. Be wary of the potential dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, produced by common items such as automobile exhaust, home heating systems, poorly vented generators, and kerosene heaters. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, do not run generators indoors if you lose power. Generators should be run only outdoors and downwind, and be kept away from children at all times. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, headaches and dizziness. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate the area and get to a hospital. • Do not run motor vehicles in a garage. • If you use a kerosene heater, open a window slightly to vent the fumes. • If you lose power, do not use charcoal to cook indoors and do not use a gas oven to heat your home. • Take precautions when clearing snow from driveways and rooftops. Cold temperatures can put an extra strain on the heart, and heavy exertion caused by shoveling snow, clearing debris or pushing a car, can increase the risk of heart attack. Dress warm and slow down when working outdoors. Take frequent rests to avoid overexertion. • When using a snowblower, always follow the manufacturer's instructions. Never leave a machine running and unattended and never put your hands into the discharge chute or augers to clear stuck snow and ice. • Winter is especially challenging for the elderly and physically disabled. Keep an eye on neighbors and be prepared to lend a helping hand.
"This storm is forecast to bring a mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain, causing treacherous driving conditions and the possibility of power outages," said Andrew X. Feeney, Director of State OEM. "We ask New Yorkers to review their family plans so they know what to do to protect themselves and their loved ones in an emergency situation." Many areas of the state have received an abnormally high amount of snow in the last month, providing the potential for roof collapses. Clearing a roof is a dangerous and arduous task. If you are unsure of safe roof clearing practices hire a professional roofing contractor. OEM also recommends families check on emergency supplies to ensure they are prepared for a period of time in the event of a power outage. Supplies such as flashlights and extra batteries, a battery-operated radio, non-perishable foods that do not require refrigeration and a non-electric can opener, bottled water (one gallon per person per day), a first aid kit and extra blankets and sleeping bags. For more information on how individuals can be better prepared for emergencies and for winter safety tips, visit: www.semo.state.ny.us. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority agencies will each be activating weather plans Monday night, with deicing of trains playing a prominent role. Customers are urged to monitor www.mta.info before traveling through the duration of the storm, to allow extra travel time and to be careful on platforms, stairs and when boarding trains and buses. Motorists who need to check conditions can access winter weather travel updates at https://www.nysdot.gov/wta. Real-time travel reports can also be accessed by phone by dialing 511 or online at www.511ny.org. Travelers are reminded to check the newly upgraded 511NY system, which includes a new free mobile device application that provides New Yorkers with up-to-the-minute information regarding traffic, transit and emergency service notifications as well as weather advisories. The new 511NY Mobile Web for use on smart mobile devices is available at http://m.511ny.org, www.511ny.mobi or www.511ny.org/511NYMobile.