Utica Mayor Palmieri urging residents to prepare for power outages


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica mayor Robert Palmieri held one last pre-storm preparedness meeting Monday morning.

Every agency available was involved, from police and fire to public works to the Red Cross, National Grid and the Oneida County Emergency Management Agency. Regardless of the agency, everyone's concern is about the threat for widespread power outages.

Mayor Palmieri says everyone needs to do what they need to do to stay safe.

"In the event of high winds, I would encourage them to use their basements," Mayor Palmieri said. "That is probably the safest area to go, and we're going to pray for the best at this time."

National Grid Customer Manager Bob Fiume was in attendance. He says he expects the power to go out, it's just a matter of how widespread.

Fiume says there are crews on standby and other trucks from other utility companies have been positioned across from National Grid's headquarters in New Hartford, but expects the calls to start coming in Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

"'How long is my power going to be out' is our number one question when customers call us," Fiume said.

If we are not hit as hard here, but other areas around the state are, Fiume says the local crews will be ready to help elsewhere if needed.

"Our crews stay in our local areas until power is restored and once our power is restored, and then once our power is restored for all of our customers in National Grid, then we may go to other utilities based on their needs as well to help them out," Fiume said.

Mayor Palmieri wants to stress the threat of flooding may not be as great, but the threat is still there.

"And as we're standing here right now, things can change overnight," Palmieri said. "We can have high winds that can do some destructive damage, until Wednesday or Thursday comes, we're pretty concerned at this time."

Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks was among those in attendance Monday morning. He is urging residents to not use candles in the event their power goes out.

"In the event of a power outage, do not implement one danger to eliminate a convenience or another," Chief Brooks said. "Flashlights are the way to go. Candles are very, very dangerous."

Brooks is also urging people to take everything from their yards inside so that those items don't get taken by the wind and possibly injure people. For those who live in high-rise buildings, make sure to take all items off their balconies.

"If you have anything on these balconies, please bring them in," Chief Brooks said. "They could become projectiles."

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