Storm and crash does not deter safe delivery of twins

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
National Grid workers are handing out bottled water and ice to customers who are still without power after Wednesday’s storm. Dry ice will be dispensed again, at the Crossgates Mall parking lot near Macy’s in Guilderland, from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, and on Saturday, Oct. 10, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

ALBANY COUNTY — In the midst of Wednesday afternoon’s fierce rain and wind storm, the county’s 9-1-1 center processed over 2,600 calls within two hours, according to Sheriff Craig Apple.

One of those calls was placed by a woman in labor, giving birth to twins. 

“The dispatcher helped a mom deliver a premature baby, one of a set of twins,” said Apple. “She talked her through the childbirth and talked her through how to tie off the umbilical cord and then our paramedics got there quickly.”

The mother and her newborn were quickly placed in the ambulance and on the way to the hospital for the second delivery, but obstacles remained.

“Because the roads were down, they had to use what’s called a crash gate on the Thruway,” said Apple. The ambulance got on the Thruway but then had to make a U-turn and go back north.

Next, the sheriff related, a tractor trailer struck the rear of the ambulance.

“One of our paramedics was slightly injured but Mom was still OK, holding onto the preemie and I believe everybody is doing well now at the hospital,” he said.

Apple shared the dramatic story at Friday morning’s county press briefing.

“It’s been a trying few days,” he said.

Heavy rains and up to 90-mile-per-hour winds brought down trees and power lines across the region on Wednesday during a brief but intense storm.

National Grid reported on Friday evening that its field force had grown to more than 2,400 workers and that so far power had been restored to more than 197,000 of the nearly 240,000 customers across the region who had lost service. 

“Our crews will continue working around the clock and remain committed to our restoration efforts until the last outage has been restored,” said Matt Barnett, vice president of New York Electric Operations, in a release from National Grid. “We also are keeping an eye on weather forecasts, which call for high winds and thunderstorms in the region this weekend.”

Barnett estimated that restoration would be largely complete in Albany County by Saturday, at 9 p.m., with scattered isolated pockets and single customer outages restored into Sunday.

The most accurate way for customers to check on the power restoration estimate for their specific address is to log into the “Report or Check Outage” page on National Grid’s Outage Central site. National Grid has an online outage map, which is updated every five minutes.

The company says that customers can receive personalized alerts by text, email, or phone when an outage is detected at their property by enrolling in the company’s outage alert option. (To register, text REG to 64743, enter your National Grid electricity account number and select your preferred method of notification.) Customers also may text OUT to 64743 to report an outage.

Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy said on Friday morning that 31,323 county residents were still without power. Tens of thousands of county residents had initially lost their power, he said.

Crews from the county’s department of public works have been busy, clearing roads of fallen trees and debris, McCoy said. While trees that have fallen and blocked the county’s rail trail will be cleared, he said, “Please give us time to get power to the people who need power.”

Clearing the roads, said McCoy, is the first priority. Apple said on Friday morning that one major road, Route 85A in New Scotland, still remained closed.

National Grid said that crews had been on the ground since the storm began, and will continue to work around the clock, removing uprooted trees, broken poles, and other hazards — and restoring service. Additionally, hundreds of contractors, some from as far away as Indiana, Michigan, and Canada, were arriving on Friday and Saturday to support the restoration.

Apple said, in the wake of the storm, there had been “a couple of house fires.” The fires were caused, not just from power outages but from people running generators improperly, he said.

“If you’re going to run a generator, please keep it outside, a safe distance away,” Apple urged. “Keep the gas away from the generator.” Some residents are running generators in their houses or garages, he said; that can lead to carbon-monoxide poisoning, which can be deadly.

“Please do not backfeed that generator into your house,” Apple went on. “That’s pushing electricity out onto the lines and can injure the National Grid people that are trying to help us all get our power back.”

National Grid states, “Before operating a generator, be sure to disconnect from National Grid’s system by shutting off the main breaker, located in the electric service panel. Failure to do this could endanger our crews and your neighbors.”

The sheriff also advised, “Keep away from lines that are down … They can jump 25 to 30 feet.”

National Grid advises, “Never touch downed power lines; always assume they are carrying live electricity. Downed lines should be immediately reported to National Grid at 1-800-867-5222 or by calling 9-1-1.”

Apple further advised residents who are in dire need of electricity — for example, to run a dialysis machine — to call local police.

National Grid advises customers who depend on electrically-powered-life support equipment, such as a respirator, to register as a life-support customer by calling the company at 1-800-642-4272.

National Grid has been providing customers who still lack power with dry ice and bottled water. McCoy and Apple both talked about the long lines of people waiting to get dry ice in the Crossgates Parking lot near Macy’s.

However the scheduled Friday distribution was delayed until 8 to 10 p.m. due to a shortage of dry ice. Distribution is also scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the mall parking lot.

“The line wrapped around the building,” said Apple, who also said there was a shortage of materials to make dry ice.

McCoy said he had talked to people waiting in line for dry ice in the Crossgates lot. “They’re losing food,” he said, noting that many people, because of the pandemic, had stockpiled food in freezers, which is now thawing.

He urged that, rather than throwing out their thawing food, people should take it to local food pantries where, McCoy surmised, generators would be running to keep the food safe.

“There’s people that could use that food,” he said.

He also advised, “Check on your neighbors. Check on your seniors … They can get through this with your help.”


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