Hurricane Sandy brought flooding to coastal cities, left millions powerless and caused billions of dollars in damages, but in the Capital District the impact paled in comparison to the devastation wrought by last year’s Tropical Storm Irene.
Most residents woke up on Tuesday, Oct. 30, to little changed from the night before, as the actual effects of Hurricane Sandy ended up being far from dire forecasts. Wind blew across the Capital District but at lower speeds than predicted, and rainfall was not a major issue. The majority of residents in Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga counties didn’t lose electricity.
National Gird spokesman Patrick Stella said about 37,000 area customers had lost electricity at the peak of the storm on Monday, Oct. 29. During Irene, as many as 156,000 customers were without power at one time. The ice storm in 2008 was even worse, with around 220,000 customers affected.
Stella said the brunt of the storm missed most in the Capital District.
“The wind happened to not be as severe here in Upstate New York,” Stella said. “Most of (the damage) occurred last night, however we have seen some additional outages today (Tuesday) with the continuation of the wind. We are hoping to get the majority of the customers back by the end of the day today.”
Before the storm hit, National Grid secured more than 800 line and tree crewmembers to be deployed across Upstate New York. The typical schedule for a worker is 18 hours on and 6 hours off during a disaster or emergency situation, he said.
“We were adequately prepared for this, as we finish these restorations we are sending these crews Downstate,” Stella said.
During Monday night, Stella said crews were deployed to do ground work due to concerns about high winds. Once the winds tapered down on Tuesday morning, bucket crews started to work on power lines.
“There were scattered outages everywhere, the wind was pretty consistent for a while,” Stella said.
Saratoga County saw the most number of outages, though by the end of Tuesday only a few dozen residences were still in the dark. The towns of Day, Edinburg and Providence experienced the majority of outages.
Paul Lent, director of Emergency Services for Saratoga County, said at the peak of the storm there were about 6,200 customers without power. Three or four roads were closed for an hour or two during Monday night as downed trees were cleared, he said.
After days of buildup and anticipation, Lent said Sandy proved to be “kind of yawner.”
“Frankly, we have seen thunderstorms cause more damage than what we have seen last night,” Lent said. “We consider ourselves very lucky and not disappointed.”
Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson agreed on Tuesday the storm was not severe.
“The city can breathe much easier today now that Hurricane Sandy has not delivered the much feared impact as forecasted in the days earlier,” Johnson said in a statement. “Fortunately, we have dodged a potentially large bullet and have come out of Hurricane Sandy in good fashion.”
In Albany County, some rural residents were still without power on Tuesday morning, with the towns of Berne and Knox having the most outages. By midday, most customers had power restored.
Mary Rozak, spokeswoman for the Albany County Executive’s Office, said the storm proved to be a “good dress rehearsal” for dealing with severe weather events.
Rozak said county reached out to seniors normally getting home delivered meals to make sure they had enough supplies — water, flashlights and canned food — on hand to weather a severe storm.
Schenectady County saw minimal power outages and withdrew its countywide state of emergency declaration before 8:30 p.m. on Monday. County spokesman Joe McQueen said the storm was a good test of the county’s emergency preparedness.
“There was really minimal damage,” McQueen said. “Better to be overprepared than underprepared, and it was a pretty good opportunity for us to check our systems and have good test.”