Capital Region

Fast-moving storms down trees, knock out power in Capital Region; One killed in Clifton Park, troopers say

Schenectady firefighters wait for National Grid to cut the power in the 700 block of Union Street after a tree brought down primary lines causing them to arc close to the former Chez Nous restaurant on Wednesday.
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Schenectady firefighters wait for National Grid to cut the power in the 700 block of Union Street after a tree brought down primary lines causing them to arc close to the former Chez Nous restaurant on Wednesday.

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County

CAPITAL REGION — A fast-moving storm that ripped across the region on Wednesday afternoon left thousands without power, knocked down trees across the area and left one man dead in Clifton Park, authorities said.

The storm tore through the region around 4 p.m., prompting the National Weather Service to issue storm warnings for possible winds up to 70 mph. Wind gusts ultimately hit between 50 and 60 mph. The Albany International Airport recorded a 62 mph gust, the service said.

The winds knocked down trees around the region. One tree killed a driver when it collided with the man’s vehicle in Clifton Park. Troopers responded to the call at about 4:23 p.m., state police said.

William J. Oates, 24, residence unavailable, was driving on Pierce Road near Ushers Road when a tree came down and hit his car, state police said. He was taken to Saratoga Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

Damage was reported throughout the region and National Grid at one point reported 160,000 customers without power.

The hardest hit areas included Schenectady, Saratoga, Montgomery, Albany, Rensselaer and Columbia counties. 

“Crews will continue to work around the clock to restore power as quickly and safely as possible in challenging conditions,” the company said. “The company’s first priority is to ensure the safety of our customers and our crews by clearing away dangers such as live, downed power lines.”

In Schenectady, Mayor Gary McCarthy said shortly before 7 p.m. that roughly 9,000 National Grid customers remained without power.

National Grid was on the ground in the city working to restore services, McCarthy said at the time.

National Grid’s online outage map continued to show wide swaths of the area without power before 8 p.m. Outages stretched around Schenectady, Saratoga and Albany counties. Outages also showed in Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties.

In Schenectady, the storm resulted in multiple car fires and at least two structure fires, said Assistant Fire Department Chief Don Mareno.

A tree fell on a two-family house at 332 Georgetta Dix Plaza across from Refreshing Springs Church, displacing two families.

“Where am I supposed to go?” sobbed a woman outside as night fell. “I’ve got five kids.”

The tree also crushed a 2016 Toyota in the adjacent parking lot.

Red Cross is aiding displaced families and Schenectady Community Action Program has been notified, officials said.

Numerous trees fell across the city and along Union Street downtown, including a tree that ripped down a power line in front of Chez Nous, which sparked and fizzled for 15 minutes shortly before 4 p.m., prompting authorities to close the street and temporarily cut power. 

The building was undamaged aside from a wire ripped from the structure, according to the owners.

The Crosstown near Route 5 was also shutdown in one direction shortly after the storm came through.

No injuries were reported citywide, officials said.

In Montgomery County, winds reached speeds of up to 70 mph, knocking out power for hundreds of people.

Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Rick Sager said the county’s dispatch center handled over 400 calls in a two-hour time frame Wednesday afternoon into the evening while the storm came through.

“From one end of the county to the other, trees downed, wires down, some roofs taken off of some structures, but nothing too spectacular, no injuries to report,” he said. “We’ve had power outages across the county.”

Sager said the crews from the Amsterdam Department of Public Works, the county and its towns and villages were out repairing damage Wednesday evening. He said a barn on Clinton Road in Canajoharie was badly damaged by the storm.

According to the National Grid power outage map, over 3,000 customers in Fulton and Montgomery counties were without power as of 10 p.m. Wednesday.

“The biggest part of the cleanup will be National Grid getting out there and getting those trees cleaned up that are on power lines and then getting things restored,” Sager said. “I think it’s going to be a prolonged period to get the power back in some areas.”

Steven Santa Maria, the Fulton County emergency management services coordinator, said the Fulton County sheriff’s dispatch center took numerous calls for downed trees and wires throughout the county.

“We’ve had no serious injuries or property damage reported as of this time,” Santa Maria said at around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Staff Writers Steven Cook and Jason Subik contributed to this article.

 

 

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