While no part of tropical storm Irene -- surely, you've heard about it by now -- is expected to reach Genesee County, National Grid is mobilizing all of its resources to respond to the potential havoc the storm could bring to the state's power system.
Reader Paul Schwartzmeyer spotted this caravan of National Grid line trucks heading east on the Thruway through Genesee County this morning.
We also received this press release from National Grid. The power company says the storm could disrupt natural gas and power transmission in Upstate New York.
ALBANY, NY -- National Grid is actively preparing for the potential effects of Hurricane Irene, which meteorologists currently expect to reach the northeast this weekend.
Depending on Irene's track, portions of National Grid's Upstate New York service area could experience damaging winds, heavy rain and flooding that could cause power outages and affect the natural gas delivery system.
National Grid already has activated its storm emergency plan, which includes calling in extra crews; pre-staging crews and materials to areas anticipated to be most severely impacted; reaching out to customers, including those on life support, to urge them to prepare for the storm; identifying low-lying, flood-prone areas and facilities for monitoring and potential isolation; holding multiple planning calls; and ensuring that key areas such as operations and customer call centers are appropriately staffed.
National Grid also is reaching out to state, regional and local officials to inform them of advance plans and keep the lines of communications open before, during and after the storm.
"We know that our customers always depend on us to restore their electricity or gas service as quickly as possible, and especially during major storms," said Ellen Smith, National Grid chief operations officer.
"We are hard at work preparing for whatever Irene may bring and will keep our customers informed throughout this event. We also want our customers to be ready for Irene, and urge them to start preparing now so they will be safe during and after the storm."
National Grid offers the following tips for customers to minimize inconvenience and maximize safety in the event that storm-related service interruptions do occur:
Keep National Grid's power outage reporting number handy -- 1-800-867-5222 (Upstate New York) -- in case it's needed.
Natural gas customers should call 1-800-892-2345 to report gas emergencies for Upstate New York.
Customers also can stay in touch with National Grid by following the company on Facebook, Twitter and on our website www.nationalgridus.com.
Power outage information also is available on the company website at www.nationalgridus.com. At the site, go to "Outage Central," and select your state.
Listen for important announcements on television and radio from emergency officials about possible evacuations or other emergency procedures.
Keep a number of working flashlights, extra batteries and at least one battery-operated radio since National Grid provides news media with timely information regarding service restoration efforts.
If you depend on electric-powered life-support equipment, such as a respirator, make sure that you have notified National Grid. If you have a medical emergency always dial 9-1-1.
Prepare a family emergency kit that includes, at least water, a three-day supply of food, a can opener, first-aid kit, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation, wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, local maps, cell phones with chargers, prescription medications and glasses, matches in a waterproof container, paper and pencil.
Customers using generators should make sure their wiring system is disconnected from the system before operating the generator. When using a portable generator, make sure the main circuit breaker in the electric service panel box is in the "off" position.
If you have a fuse box instead of breakers, pull out the main block, remove the fuses and reinsert the empty block. This is necessary to prevent your generator's electricity from going back into the system, which could endanger the lives of line crews and your neighbors. Also, it's required by the National Electrical Code.
Be sure to only use generators outdoors. Exhaust fumes contain poisonous carbon monoxide and can kill or cause serious injury.
Before lowering a TV antenna or satellite dish, make sure to turn off and unplug the TV, and avoid power lines.
Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings ahead of time to keep food fresh longer in the event of a power outage.
Prepare your business by securing the exterior of your building. Inside, cover and move equipment and furniture to a secured area. Protect data with backup files. Make plans for supplies and services so that you are prepared to work with limited supplies of cash, water, sewer or power for at least two weeks.
National Grid is an international energy delivery company. In the U.S., National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, and manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA).
It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the Northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. National Grid also owns over 4,000 megawatts of contracted electricity generation that provides power to more than one million LIPA customers.