JOE ROBACH OFFICE ANNOUNCES STATE OF EMERGENCY FOR COUNTIES AFFECTED BY WINTER STORM AND ADVISES RESIDENTS TO BE SAFE

Joe Robach Office announced a state of emergency for the following counties around the state as a severe winter storm continues to bring snowfall across the state: Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Franklin, Genesee, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego, Wyoming, and contiguous counties.

The storm, which has already brought significant amounts of snow to Western New York beginning Monday afternoon into Tuesday, is expected to continue through at least Thursday evening, reaching into Central New York. As part of the State of Emergency, the National Guard was deployed to affected areas Tuesday afternoon and activated statewide Emergency Operations Centers at 8:00 p.m. Monday night. Staffing at the center includes personnel from the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, New York State Police, Thruway Authority, Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Conservation and the Public Service Commission.

“The State of Emergency in counties that have been or will be affected is in place to help communities as they experience a substantial amount of snowfall,” Joe Robach said in a statement released by his office. “This storm may persist until Friday morning with the potential for another two feet of snow. New Yorkers and residents in the Rochester area specially should exercise extreme caution, and stay off the roads until conditions are clearer and safer. Furthermore, older residents and those with medical issues should limit the amount of time spent outside in the elements”

The Office of Joe Robach recommends the following tips to citizens that reside in the storm affected regions:

Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:
•Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Remember that the highway ahead of the plow is usually snow-covered;
•Adjust speed for road conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles;
•Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations;
•Assume that bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces;
•Be wary of black ice, which can be difficult to see but makes conditions slippery when pavement temperatures are below freezing;
•Have a cell phone handy, if possible, but do not text while driving; distracted driving is illegal and becomes even more dangerous during storm events;
•Never venture from your vehicle if snowbound;
•Equip your car with emergency supplies including sand, shovel, flares, booster cables, rope, ice scraper, portable radio, flashlight, blankets and extra warm clothes;
•Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival; and
•Keep calm and do not panic in case of a vehicle breakdown, accident, or if you become snowbound.

If You Lose Power:
•First, call your utility to determine area repair schedules.
•Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored.
•If heat goes out during a winter storm, keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need.
•Alternative Heating Safety Tips

Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturers instructions. While using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc. always make sure you have proper ventilation. Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces. Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors and make sure they work.

If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips:
•Follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
•Use only the correct fuel for your unit.
•Refuel outdoors ONLY and only when the unit is cool.
•Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.
•When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.

The New York State Department of Transportation provides a travel advisory system that features real-time travel reports and can be accessed by dialing 511, online at www.511ny.org, or via a downloadable smart phone app. The web site features a color-coded map indicating which state roads are snow covered, ice covered, wet, dry, or closed to help travelers determine if travel is advisable. The system provides real-time snow and ice conditions for interstates and other heavily traveled roads, as reported by snowplow operators.

Joe Robach office along with The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services also recommends that residents should prepare their homes and families for winter weather. This includes stocking up on supplies in the event a winter storm or power outage prevents you from leaving your home. Check on elderly neighbors and those with special needs to see if they are in need of assistance. Additional safety tips can be found on the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website at: http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/publicsafety/winter.cfm.
###