Capital Region

Fast-moving storms down trees, knock out power in Capital Region

Video still: Sparks from downed wires outside Chez Nous on Union Street Wednesday. Damage to the restaurant was limited to wires being pulled from the building
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Video still: Sparks from downed wires outside Chez Nous on Union Street Wednesday. Damage to the restaurant was limited to wires being pulled from the building

Categories: -The Daily Gazette

SCHENECTADY — A fast-moving storm that ripped across the region on Wednesday afternoon left thousands without power and downed trees across the area and leaving 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 down tree left a driver dead when it fell and 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, city of 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 without power.

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

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“Crews will continue to work around the clock to restore power as quickly and safely as possible in challenging conditions,” the company said in a statement. “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.

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.

McCarthy said police and fire calls were backed up, but said first responders are working to clear dozens of backlogged calls.

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