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Local crews prep to help downstate

October 30, 2012
By CHRIS MORRIS and JESSICA COLLIER - Staff Writers , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Essex and Franklin counties will cancel local emergency orders issued Monday as Hurricane Sandy approached. The counties are now shifting toward helping other parts of the state.

Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost said the state is asking firefighters in northern parts of the state to come to southern New York, which was hit much harder by the storm, to help fight fires.

Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas, chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, said he spoke with the governor's office this morning and informed state emergency officials that emergency personnel from his town and county "will go anywhere in the state that we are needed."

Provost said he was putting the word out this morning to local fire departments to try to put together six or seven crews to send downstate, but he was still waiting for orders from the state to know where they would go.

The Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department had a crew of two people on standby this morning waiting for orders. TLVFD Chief Mark Picerno said they could be doing anything from basement pump details to traffic duty to fighting real fires, "but whatever it is, we rise to the occasion."

Saranac Lake firefighters may also be called upon to assist with storm response downstate. Fire Chief Brendan Keough said he was contacted by Franklin County Emergency Services this morning.

"They're just polling everybody to see who would be available," he said. "They'll organize a bunch of us to go down in teams, if we go."

Franklin County already sent a technical rescue crew from throughout the county to help downstate on Sunday. The crew is trained to help with a variety of different kind of rescues like high angle, confined space, rope and water, but they planned to help specifically with water rescues on this trip and brought a boat with them.

They were in Port Washington on hard-hit Long Island the last Provost heard from them; they're checking in every three hours or so.

"But they're moving wherever they're needed," Provost said.

Franklin County declared a state of emergency Monday morning stating that the storm posed an imminent danger to the county, but Provost said he got word at about 10:30 p.m. Monday that the National Weather Service was backing off its warnings.

"We haven't had much to speak of overnight," Provost said this morning. "We're expecting rain and some moderate wind gusts, but nothing like before."

Essex County officials were expected to meet at 10 a.m. today to discuss rescinding the emergency order, according to Douglas.

Both counties set up emergency operations centers. Essex County's EOC is in Lewis. County offices will be closed until midnight today.

Provost said the Franklin County EOC at the county Public Safety Building in Malone might continue operating throughout the day today. County officials like Highway Superintendent Jon Hutchins and Department of Social Services Commissioner Lesley Lyon, as well as representatives from several state organizations including the Department of Transportation, are working out of that building while the EOC is operating.

The county emergency orders follow similar declarations made on the state and federal level. The federal declaration lets the federal government provide "assistance and resources to New York State and local governments to support activities related to evacuation, sheltering, and other protective measures," according to a statement on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's website.

The American Red Cross opened a shelter at the town of Jay Community Center on School Lane in AuSable Forks.

Franklin County's bus routes were canceled from 6 p.m. Monday until noon today, and the Franklin County Department of Motor Vehicles satellite office in Saranac Lake is set to be closed today. The DMV office in Malone is open.



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