Damascus storm outreach continues

DAMASCUS, PA — As the region braced for its fourth nor’easter in three weeks, emergency management coordinator Ed Lagarenne announced at the March 19 Damascus Township Board of Supervisors meeting that help is available for township residents dealing with storm-related power outages. He defined help as warm shelter, bottled water, dry ice, and contingency fire and ambulance services.

“Call us if you need us,” said Lagarenne, who has added an after-hours cell phone number (570/493-0142) to the township website for just such an instance. “But please use that number judiciously; don’t call at 2 a.m. to complain that your road hasn’t been plowed. Use it to report life-threatening conditions, or when immediate emergency services are required,” he added.

Lagarenne said the school would be opened as a warming station if the need arose during another prolonged power outage. Noting that some Damascus residents were without power for up to six days after the March 2 storm, he said, “Nobody asked for one last time around, so we didn’t open it. If you need it, ask for it.”

Lagarenne also reported a beneficial take-away from that storm: discovery that emergency services radio signal strength was inconsistent, particularly in the river valley. But that situation has since been remedied with installation of signal boosters in affected areas.

The board then moved to a warmer topic: summer highway department part-time help. “What I’m concerned about this year is all our roads, except the ones rebuilt last year,” said roadmaster Steve Adams. The decision to hire seasonal help may be of considerably more importance this year than in past years. “One full-time guy may retire in the fall,” said Adams. “If a summer part-timer does an exceptional job, that person could move into the fulltime spot.Supervisor Haas said his calls to NY SEG over the weekend drew assurances of imminent power restoration, but nothing happened. Then on March 3, Gov. Cuomo called out national guardsmen from the Binghamton area, who began the reopening of Route 97. As the new week began, a swarm of big blue Hydro Quebec utility trucks appeared, and by March 7, Eldred’s lights returned and a “merci” sign appeared in front of the Eldred Library. Barryville’s power returned on March 9, and on March 10, NYSEG issued a statement that “nearly all” of 203,000 affected customers had their power restored. No local outages remained on the utility’s website outage map as of March 20.


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