STATEMENT OF COUNTY EXECUTIVE MIKE HEIN
Port Ewen, NY– This morning, County Executive Mike Hein provided the following updated information regarding Hurricane Sandy:
We are on River Road in Port Ewen because Hurricane Sandy has impacted multiple areas along the Hudson River and on the Rondout Creek like this one. This storm, unlike Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, has very different characteristics. A strong storm surge combined with tidal influence led to record setting water levels – 9.54 feet above sea level.
36,000 homes lost power in Ulster County (34% of Ulster County homes) and Ulster County residents were evacuated from their homes throughout the night. As of 7 AM this morning, there were more than 60 reported road closures. (A list of road closures is on the County website and will remain on the site until all roads are reopened.) We urge everyone to proceed with extreme caution, as there is debris, as well as the potential for downed power lines and another cycle of high tide, between 1 and 2 PM today.
I also urge residents to check www.ulstercountyny.gov, call 2-1-1 or call the County’s toll free number 855-855-1235 for updates. NYSEG can be reached by calling 800-572-1131 and Central Hudson at 452-2700. For downed wires and other emergencies call 9-1-1.
Shelters remained available thru the night throughout Ulster County. County residents stayed in the shelters after being evacuated from their homes. Nurses from the Ulster County Department of Health were stationed at the Bellayre shelter and Red Cross nurses were on site at the Trudy Farber Resnick shelter in Ellenville.
Meals on Wheels are being delivered today; and senior wellness visits are taking place as scheduled.
Though Ulster County office buildings will remain closed today, all County personnel essential to the storm effort will continue to assist with storm recovery. All County office buildings are expected to be open for business tomorrow. UCAT bus services will begin at 5:30 AM tomorrow morning.
The State of Emergency and a County-wide travel restriction in Ulster County are being lifted at noon today, as the storm winds down.
I want to acknowledge the Herculean efforts put forth by the entire staff at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and take this opportunity to recognize Art Snyder, the head of my Emergency Management/Emergency Communications Department, for his leadership, expertise and tireless service. As part of this cooperative effort, I would like to acknowledge Ulster County’s brave first responders, the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s team of NYS personnel who worked side by side with my administration and local municipal officials through the night to help ensure the safety of the people of Ulster County.
Following Hurricane Irene, the EOC was designed with this type of coordinated effort in mind, and it is being implemented for the first time successfully. Our first responders: police, fire and EMS, along with health and human services personnel were some of the many professionals who manned the EOC so that our most vulnerable received shelter and appropriate medical care. Staff at the EOC also included individuals from the Department of Public Works and the County Planning Department who addressed infrastructure needs. The Public Works Department responded to roads impacted by the storm and the Planning Department provided a new and valuable component with “real time” GIS mapping to identify those areas that would be most affected by the 9+ feet of above-sea level water. This allowed my administration to work with town and city officials who, when necessary went door-to-door to remove people from harms way, and to appropriately address infrastructure needs.
Though we received a significant amount of damage from Hurricane Sandy, Ulster County must truly count our blessings as it was only a glancing blow compared to many of our neighbors in the Northeast. However, we must never lose sight of the dangerous nature of these storms or the fragility of life. I am deeply saddened to learn from the New York State Police that at the height of the storm a 69 year old woman from the Town of Rochester was killed when flying debris struck her car. On behalf of the entire County, our thoughts and prayers are with her friends and family at this time.