UPDATED: Tens of thousands without power in Putnam; outages widespread in Philipstown
Putnam County has been hammered by Hurricane Irene's effects, and the storm impact isn't over yet. As of 8 a.m. Sunday, about 35,000 people -- one-third of the county's population -- were without power.
Numerous road closures were reported throughout the county, both east and west. Wires have fallen on cars.
At least two structure fires were going on Sunday morning, one in Patterson and one in Brewster, but firefighting efforts were complicated due to difficulty in getting equipment to the scene. Many roads have one or several downed trees across them, including Route 301 near Carmel, which also had electrical wires on fire.
"The winds were unbelievable," said Courier and PCN&R reporter Eric Gross. "Howling all night long. Just unbelievable."
Meanwhile, on Route 9D in the Garrison area, roadside brooks looked like rapids; carrying raging amounts of water and overflowing. In Cold Spring, power outages hit at least parts of the village throughout the morning, including Foodtown briefly. Most shops were closed.
By the Hudson River, there was flooding on lower Main Street, and the street by the Hudson House had been blocked off. Fire trucks have barred access to the road by the Bandstand. One could turn left into the Metro-North parking lot when on the overpass but could not go right. The only vehicles out and about were police and fire related.
And there was this note: Ducks were swimming in Mayor's Park.
-- Eric Gross, Elizabeth Ailes, Doug Cunningham, Lois Powers
Plus, it appears Putnam residents aren't alone in losing power. Here are the lates stats from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as of Sunday morning:
STORM UPDATE FROM GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO
Sunday 8/28 10:30AM:
Power Outage Update:
Total customers without power (statewide): 750,000
National Grid: 71,870
Central Hudson: 66,613
Orange & Rockland: 31,218
Wide impacts across Putnam County from storm
Fifty county officials and volunteers are manning the county's Emergency Operations Center in Carmel Saturday night where they will remain throughout the day Sunday and possibly into Monday depending if emergency services are needed.
More than two double the size of the Sheriff's Department staff are working throughout the storm while the Putnam 911 Dispatch Center has compliment of six dispatchers instead of the normal three.
County Executive Paul Eldridge ordered the opening of a shelter at the Putnam Valley Senior Center as well as the evacuation of several homes along Hudson River Lane in the Manitou section of Philipstown.
Officials are fearful at high tide Sunday around 11 am, a storm surge will flood low lying areas of both Garrison and Cold Spring.
NYSEG has employed crews from as far away as Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Kansas to assist with wide spread expected power outages.
The EOC staff received a surprise Saturday evening when Congresswoman Nan Hayworth stopped by.
-- Eric Gross
Earlier story, 9 p.m. Saurday:
State of Emergency declared in Putnam County
A state of emergency has been declared for Putnam County ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irene.
County Executive Paul Eldridge issued the declaration Saturday afternoon after conferring with Commissioner of Emergency Services Robert McMahon.
Eldridge said due to the "expected hurricane force winds and torrential downpours flooding roads, knocking down trees and disrupting electric service later Saturday and Sunday, it is in the best interest of the public to stay at home and venture out of doors only in the case of an emergency."
The county's Emergency Operations Center has opened at the Bureau of Emergency Services and will be manned around the clock until the storm subsides.
Local fire stations and ambulance headquarters countywide will also be open for shelter in the event flooding forces the evacuation of individuals from their homes.
McMahon reminded the public if emergency services are needed "call 911. We have also established an emergency information hotline where residents can obtain pertinent information relating to the storm that does not constitute a life and death situation. That number is 808-4060."
Putnam prepares for Irene; stores deluged by shoppers
**** Earlier report, from 9 a.m. Saturday: Hurricane Irene, even before it hits the metro area, is having wide impacts. Across Putnam County, they include:
** Train service to and from Grand Central, on both lines in Putnam, will be suspended as midday Saturday. Exact times can be found here: http://www.mta.info/mta/news/releases/?en=110826-MNR40.
** A number of stores were wiped out of supplies by late Friday. Many expected new shipments this morning.
** It's not clear yet if Hudson River crossings will be closed.
** Officials from all county departments met Friday afternoon at the Bureau of Emergency Services headquarters in Carmel to make final plans for the arrival of Hurricane Irene.
** Firehouses in Philipstown will act as "welcoming centers" for those cannot safely stay at home. More details here: http://philipstown.com/
While the county is not expected to receive a direct hit from the monster storm as is the case along the North Carolina, New Jersey and Long Island coastlines, Putnam will be impacted by torrential rains and strong winds that will most likely result in power outages.
Putnam's Director of Emergency Management Thomas Lannon told some three dozen individuals gathered for the briefing that the storm would arrive "earlier than predicted" with the main thrust being felt starting Saturday night and continuing into Sunday afternoon.
Latest information from the National Hurricane Center indicated sustained winds of 45 mph across Putnam with gusts as high as 57 mph.
The New York State Electric and Gas Company has already relocated 40 tree-trimming crews to the county while all fire departments will be staffed throughout the storm. One hundred seventy-five ambulances are being staged at Stewart Airport in Newburgh for deployment in the event evacuations are necessary at area hospitals. The ambulances will also be made available for 911 calls anywhere in the Hudson Valley.
Metro North Railroad service will be halted at12-noon Saturday and Putnam Area Rapid Transit (PART) buses will also shut down service on Saturday afternoon.
While the county has no current plans to open any shelters, four fire houses on the western side of Putnam—Continental Village, Garrison, Cold Spring and North Highlands will be operating welcome centers for those in need.
Commissioner of Emergency Services Robert McMahon ordered the opening of the county's Emergency Operation Center in Carmel at 8 pm Saturday which will be manned around-the-clock by professionals in the fields of law enforcement, emergency services, utilities, and senior citizens services.
McMahon said the county would be using its 211 line as well as a special hotline—808-4060—for non-life threatening emergencies. "If you need fire or ambulance service, call 911," he said.
McMahon urged the public to listen to their local radio stations or internet service for any updates on the path of the storm.