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Bethlehem weathers the storm

Thousands still without power, cleanup will be long-term

— Hurricane Irene had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached the Capital District early on Sunday, Aug. 28, but it still wreaked havoc throughout the area.

In the Town of Bethlehem, a state of emergency was in effect from 11:30 a.m. on Sunday until noontime today. Town Supervisor Sam Messina said power outages remain the biggest problem for residents, but there's also been a break at the town's sewage treatment facility that crews are trying to fix. There's no public danger, he said.

The storm runoff also rerouted water flow around one of the town's water reservoirs in New Scotland. Future work will be needed to ensure the reservoir will receive inflow again.

“I know its a difficult time for the people. We and the utilities, National Grid in particular, are doing as much as we can,” Messina said.

Thousands of households remained without power on Monday. National Grid was not issuing estimates on when power would be fully restored but company spokesman Steve Brady said in the company's eastern division, covering the Capital District and beyond, roughly 120,000 homes were without service.

The harsh conditions on Sunday precluded crews from getting around the area and making some repairs, he continued.

“If it had just been the heavy rains or just the wind, we might have seen a somewhat different result,” Brady said. “The two in combination was what was really so devastating.”

Reports from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office indicated there were nearly one million power outages statewide on Monday.

Town highway crews were working around the clock to clear roads, but the effort is far from over.

“It will take some time for a complete cleanup,” said Highway Department Superintendent Gregg Sagendorph. “Some people just have a few branches down on their front lawn, and some people lost huge trees. It was widespread but the severe damage was sporadic.”

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