BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW-TV) — The schools have closed and many people are now working from home to avoid spreading covid-19.
It also means uninterrupted electricity is even more critical to keep refrigerators, furnaces, and home-office electrical equipment running.
However, a weather pattern is moving into the WNY area that could be accompanied by lightning and 60mph winds - which will increase the chances of tree limbs falling and knocking out power.
"We are preparing our line, service, and tree crews to respond," said Dave Bertola, spokesperson for National Grid.
The storm is expected to move through the area on Friday March 20, as temperatures fall to winter-like levels for the official beginning of spring.
Due to the coronavirus national health emergency, National Grid and NYSEG have a large number of staff working from home, as per government orders. Will it impact the power companies' ability to respond?
National Grid said it is increasing staff and closely monitoring Friday's weather forecast. The power company said its field staffing levels remain steady and are ready if the storm impacts service.
NYSEG and RG&E issued the following statement:
"In anticipation of the weather the companies’ storm readiness teams have been monitoring weather forecasts, planning and readying crews and equipment. As part of the companies’ coronavirus response effort, personnel have been inspecting electrical circuits that provide hospitals and other critical facilities power and those patrols continue in preparation of this event. Additionally, more than 600 line and field personnel are on-site with 200 more ready to respond should outages occur."
National Grid shared these safety tips:
• If a power outage occurs, customers can notify National Grid online to expedite restoration.
• Never touch downed power lines; always assume they are carrying live electricity. Downed lines should immediately be reported to National Grid at 1-800-867-5222 or by calling 911.
• Generators used to supply power during an outage must be operated outdoors to prevent the buildup of deadly carbon monoxide. Before operating a generator, be sure to disconnect from National Grid’s system by shutting off the main breaker, located in the electric service panel. Failure to do this could endanger our crews and your neighbors.
• Customers who depend on electrically powered life support equipment, such as a respirator, should register as a life support customer by calling National Grid at 1-800-642- 4272. In a medical emergency, always dial 911.
• Keep working flashlights and an extra supply of batteries in your home and be sure to charge all electronic devices before the storm.
• Please use caution when driving near emergency responders and crews restoring power.
• Be sure to check on elderly family members, neighbors and others who may need assistance during an outage.
NYSEG and RG&E had the following tips:
- You can use our new mobile app to report and check the status of outages. To download the application, customers should search “AVANGRID” in the Apple or Android app stores and select “NYSEG” or “RG&E”. The application is free to download.
- Sign up for Outage Alerts to receive updates automatically by phone, text, or e-mail as the company updates the status of the restoration process in their area. Customers can sign up for outage alerts by visiting here for NYSEG [click.agilitypr.delivery] and here for RG&E [click.agilitypr.delivery].
- Keep battery-operated flashlights and radios on hand, along with supplies of drinking water and non-perishable foods.
- Make sure that smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices are fully charged.
- Fill your car’s fuel tank.
National Grid customers can find information about reporting an outage by clicking here.
NYSEG and RG&E customers can find information about reporting an outage by clicking here.