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Feb. 14, 2007

OSWEGO COUNTY BRACES FOR NOR'EASTER

Oswego County is braced the additional snowfall expected today from the heavy snow warnings issued for the Nor'easter striking the eastern seaboard. The state of emergency was extended yesterday for several more days, and officials are urging people to be extremely cautious during the storm.

"The Nor'easter is expected to add another foot to a foot-and-a-half of new snow on top of heavy lake effect snow that dumped over 10 feet in areas of the county," County Legislature Chairman Russ Johnson said. "State resources and the National Guard will be helping the county and our municipalities continue working on the infrastructure - clearing the roads - and maintaining emergency services."

Travel advisories remain in effect in the county, and the legislature chairman urged anyone driving in the area to be extremely cautious. "Not only is there new snow on the roads, but the snow banks are extremely high and difficult to get around," he said. "The county highway, local municipalities and State Department of Transportation are doing a great job of keeping the roads clear. But hazardous conditions exist, and people should be aware of the forecast for the area they're traveling in."

The National Weather Service has advised that heavy snow and 20- to 30-mph winds could cause frequent whiteouts and very bad driving conditions. Wind chills could reach to minus 15 to minus 20 degrees between Wednesday morning and Friday.

"We're continuing to operate our Emergency Operations Center around the clock to facilitate agency coordination," Legislature Chairman Johnson said. "Our focus continues to be on the county's infrastructure and maintaining emergency services."

Agencies present at the Emergency Operations Center this week include County Highway, Fire Coordinator's Office, Emergency Management, Sheriff's Department, Health, Social Services, and public information, as well as the State Department of Transportation, State Emergency Management Office, State Police and National Guard. Other partners involved in the efforts include the E-911 Communications Center, State Department of Corrections, State Health/Emergency Medical Services, and emergency services volunteers. "We couldn't have coordinated the state's assistance to local municipalities without them," Legislature Chairman Johnson said.

"Our message for the public is safety," said Patricia Egan, Director of the County Emergency Management Office. "The snow is continuing to fall, and this time it's impacting more than our county. Snow banks are several feet high and difficult to maneuver around. Fortunately, while we've seen an increase in snow-related injuries, there have been neither deaths nor serious issues."

County Health Director Kathy Smith reminded people to follow safety precautions while snow blowing and snow shoveling, and especially during these next few days, to make sure they are dressed warmly to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.

The additional snowfall could also put additional snow loads on structures, and emergency officials urged people to follow proper safety procedures in clearing their roofs.

"We hope the snows will end and we can get back to normal," Legislature Chairman Johnson said. "It's been difficult for the people in the county, but with everyone pulling together we've been able to weather this siege fairly well."


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