Lawmakers survey ice storm damage

In the wake of a major ice storm that left homes and businesses across the Northeast in the dark and resulted in at least two deaths, Sen. Charles Schumer and Gov. David Paterson held a press conference on Monday, Dec. 15, at the Niskayuna Town Hall to update the public about the efforts they are making to receive federal aid to help in the relief effort.

First, we've asked for an immediate emergency declaration for 16 counties that were hit by the storm, said Schumer. "Inside every home is a person who is concerned or worried. These are the times when all levels of government have to help."

According to a spokesperson from National Grid, after the storm hit the region, a peak total of 229,000 homes were without power on Friday, Dec. 12. By 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15, National Grid had restored power to about 175,000 customers.

However, they said that a forecast of inclement weather might hamper efforts to restore power for those who are still left in the dark.

"Right now we are still sticking to the announcement we made [on Sunday] that we're hoping to completely restore power before the end of the day on Wednesday, and that is weather pending because we do have more wind coming and ice, which will present challenges. If that happens, we might have to change that deadline," said Courtney Quatrino, a spokeswoman for National Grid.

But restoring power is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the recovery efforts to help the area get back into full working order. Many homes were damaged, and there is still an enormous amount of debris that needs to be cleaned up.

"We're having crews come along to pick up all the branches [from in front of homes] and they'll continue to be out every day picking up branches," said Niskayuna Town Supervisor Joe Landry.

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