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Feb. 13, 2007

OSWEGO COUNTY EXTENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY DUE TO FORECAST AND STATE RESOURCES

Fulton - Oswego County extended its State of Emergency this morning at 9:15 due to weather forecasts and the continued use of state resources to ameliorate the burden of heavy lake effect snow on local municipalities.

Oswego County Legislature Chairman Russ Johnson said that while conditions in the county are improving today, hazardous conditions do still exist. He also cited the forecast for another 1 to 1½ feet of snow in the county through another storm front Tuesday night into Wednesday as another reason.

“The focus of our emergency operations continues to be on infrastructure and public safety,” Legislature Chairman Johnson said. “People in Oswego County should be aware that emergency conditions still exist, but there are no restrictions on travel or the conduct of daily business.”

The travel advisory issued by the legislature chairman and Sheriff Reuel Todd on Feb. 5 remains in effect, but the County Highway Department has worked closely with town, city and village highway departments to ensure roads are open.

“The State of Emergency declaration allows us to continue to access state resources, including the Department of Transportation and Department of Corrections crews that Governor Eliot Spitzer made available through his declaration of a State Disaster Area last Thursday,” Legislature Chairman Johnson said. “The DOT has worked closely with Kurt Ospelt of the County Highway Department to ensure the most effective use of their resources to clear snow for local municipalities.”

State Department of Transportation (DOT) officials report that all state roads, including I-81, continue to remain open. They are working closely with county emergency managers to assure that the transportation system remains operational.

NYSDOT Regional Director Carl Ford said,” We are continuing to work with county officials to provide the most effective use of state manpower and equipment, in light of current forecast and resource needs in other parts of the state.”

County Fire Coordinator John Hinds and his deputies have worked closely with local fire departments and Department of Corrections crews in clearing fire hydrants to preserve public safety.

“We appreciate the assistance the governor’s declaration has lent to us,” the legislature chairman said. In addition to the DOT and DOC, the State Emergency Management Office, State Health/EMS and State Police have sent representatives to the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Fulton, helping to ensure emergency operations run smoothly.

“We also appreciate the efforts of all involved in the emergency response: our county agencies and emergency response partners, and our neighboring counties that sent mutual aid assistance to our fire departments and emergency medical services.

“As the snow predicted for Tuesday night and Wednesday arrives, people traveling through the county should be very aware of road conditions and listen to the advice of local community officials,” Legislature Chairman Johnson said.

“We also appreciate the community groups and volunteers who have stepped up to help the elderly and infirm people in their neighborhoods,” he noted. “While we haven’t seen a serious issue with human needs through this emergency, we know it’s been difficult for people with the amount of snow that’s fallen in so short a time. This is a county in which ‘neighbor helping neighbor’ truly works well.”

Throughout the emergency, county officials have been stressing safety messages for the public to follow while hazardous conditions exist. “Please continue following the safety messages County Health Director Kathy Smith issued last Friday for snow shoveling and snow blower safety as well as frostbite and hypothermia,” Legislature Chairman Johnson said. “The County Fire Coordinator’s Office also issued important reminders for fire safety, clearing snow off roofs and watching out for children playing in snow caves and on snow banks.”

As the snow accumulates, people should continue to watch the snow loads on their roofs, Fire Coordinator John Hinds said. “Follow the proper precautions when clearing your roofs, and make sure the snow does not fall on propane tanks or on the LP and natural gas meters to your home. You also should keep those areas clear of snow and ice.

“If everyone continues to be cautious and practice common sense, we’ll get through this emergency without any major injuries or serious human issues,” Legislature Chairman Johnson said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to bring our county back to normal.”


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