While power outages and blocked roads are an inconvenience and cost business to many companies the past few days, some sectors are enjoying a storm boom.
Philip Viger, owner of Adirondack Tree Surgeons in Gansevoort, said his business has had 163 calls from customers in need of tree removal since the storm hit Thursday night. He estimates that his business has removed between 50 and 60 trees from yards, and cleared trees from as many driveways.
“Our phones haven’t stopped ringing since 3:30 a.m. Friday morning,” Viger said. “Right now, we’ve got five crews out there. We’re running 41 men.”
Brett Kucharski, owner of Northeast Landscaping and Tree Service in Ballston Lake, said he’s added three workers who subcontract for his business to handle the influx of jobs he’s received because of the ice storm.
“I picked up a few guys who I knew were out of work,” Kucharski said Saturday. “Friday, we were still doing snowplow jobs, which caused us to lose a few [tree removal jobs]. [Saturday] we started doing tree cleanups. Today we were in Burnt Hills and we had a few jobs over in Clifton Park. They got hit pretty hard.”
Clifton Park was one of the hardest hit areas. Clifton Park Supervisor Philip Barrett said he saw many different companies removing fallen trees throughout town, including Lewis Tree Service, a company based in West Henrietta, Monroe County. Barrett said that by Saturday, Clifton Park Center Road and Longkill Road had been cleared, helping to improve travel through the town.
Viger said the ice storm will not go down in state history as being as bad as the 1998 ice storm in Plattsburgh or the Oct. 4, 1987, ice storm, but it will be known for how widespread it was, and how lucky Clifton Park was that the storm didn’t last any longer than it did.
“I think that if they had an hour or two more of freezing rain, there wouldn’t be a tree standing in Clifton Park,” Viger said.
Some local restaurants and hotels prospered due to the widespread power outages. Carm’s Restaurant on Freemans Bridge Road in Schenectady had so much business Friday and during the day Saturday that it started running out of menu items like submarine sandwiches by evening.
“We’re out of bread,” Carm employee Amanda Nasters said with a bemused grin. “We’ve been completely swamped the last two days. We’re out of chicken tenders. A lot of people who didn’t have electricity came here because they couldn’t cook.”
“We’re out of spaghetti!” a Carm’s waiter shouted from the Italian restaurant’s kitchen — an unusual statement.
Vacant hotel rooms were also rare in Schenectady Saturday night. Officials at the 100 Nott Terrace Holiday Inn said all of the hotel’s 180 rooms were booked for Saturday night and tonight. The Days Inn at 167 Nott Terrace also had its 68 rooms booked.
The Stockade Inn at 1 North Church St. wasn’t as lucky. Its 18 rooms were closed because the business lost two-thirds of its electrical supply, said owner Jeff McDonald. McDonald said he’s disappointed that he lost power because he received several hundred calls from people seeking rooms; but, he’s glad he was able to keep his restaurant open and fulfill commitments his business made for holiday events this weekend.
“We had to juggle some things around and be creative. Everyone had to work a little harder, but we were able to do it. We were fortunate we were able to stay open,” he said. “A lot of people have been coming out because they didn’t have heat and couldn’t cook food, but also people who would have come to the restaurant in groups for holiday dinners couldn’t take showers and decided not to come out. I think all in all, it’s been a tough blow for the restaurant. We would have been busier if the storm had not happened.”
Tom Mullan, owner of Tom Mullan Tree & Stump Removal in Gansevoort, said the storm will probably be a gift that keeps on giving to his industry.
“The jobs just keep coming in. You’ll pick up some more every day, pretty much,” Mullan said.
Kucharski said he expects to receive calls related to this storm through 2010.
“Honestly, we’ll get work for two years out of this, probably, because some people won’t worry about [a fallen tree] if it didn’t go through their house or onto their car. Then, they’ll call about the tree in the back yard [months or years later],” he said.