Weekly Feature



2017-03-16 / Front Page

Crews in EA clean up following March 8 windstorm

by KATE PELCZYNSKI
Editor


Crews work to clear downed power lines on Elmwood Avenue following a windstorm that swept through the area on March 8. 
Photo by Chuck SkipperPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Crews work to clear downed power lines on Elmwood Avenue following a windstorm that swept through the area on March 8. Photo by Chuck SkipperPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Wild winds swept through the area on Wednesday, March 8, leaving a trail of destruction and hundreds without power for several days.

Town of Aurora Highway Superintendent David Gunner says the calls started coming in at about 2 p.m. Wednesday.

“The phone rang off the hook,” he said.

Gunner said his crews had some help from neighboring towns, including Cheektowaga and West Seneca. The towns, Gunner said, allowed workers from Aurora to use their bigger trucks and equipment, such as the grapple trucks that can easily pick up trees.

Gunner said his crews worked late into the night clearing roads, many of which were blocked by trees.

“We had a road closed in South Wales, two roads in West Falls closed, two roads in the north end closed, so [the damage] was pretty widespread.” The last road to be cleared, Old Glenwood Road in West Falls, finally reopened on Sunday.

“We had to run and deal with problems everywhere,” he said.

According to New York State Electric and Gas Corporation, 20,000 people across Erie County lost power, with 2,257 of those people living in the East Aurora area. On Greenwood Drive, three houses were damaged after a tree fell, but no one was hurt. The Highway Department was also damaged by the winds after part of the roof and a door blew off. Gunner estimates the damage to be around $10,000.

Gunner says this storm presented a different set of challenges.

“In the past, say your north end of town would have damage and you could focus on it, here, it was pretty much equal,” he said. “I mean, we’ve had numerous trees down and power outages, but not to this severity.”

Another challenge Gunner said he observed was a lack of communication from NYSEG.

“I think what was frustrating was nobody seemed to know anything,” he said, pointing out how NYSEG was dealing with more than just downed power lines during this storm.

“In other storms when the trees would pull the power lines down, they would go re-hang them,” he said. “Whereas with this storm, [the wind] actually snapped the poles off. So even though they could get to wires, they had nothing to hang them on.”

However, he stresses that the crews are not to blame for this, saying they “worked their butts off.”

The storm also set the department back with spring preparations. Gunner says the DPW crews had planned to start paving the north end of town.

“We think we’re having a good mild winter, no frost on the ground, so we can start putting some blacktop down. This will set us back for at least a couple weeks.”

Gunner reminds residents to place brush by the side of the curb for pickup, with the butt end sticking out. Brush piles should be no higher than 4 feet and no longer than 20 feet.

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