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Storm cleanup in full swing

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Thousands of residents are still without power and trees and power lines are down throughout the north country after a line of thunderstorms ripped through the region Tuesday.


At the peak of power outages, approximately 68,000 customers were in the dark, according to National Grid estimates.


At 11 a.m. Wednesday, about 40,000 customers had been restored, but many will go without power through today and Friday, said Alberto Bianchetti, National Grid spokesman.


As of 9 p.m. Wednesday, 693 customers in Jefferson, 2,200 in Lewis and 5,100 in St. Lawrence counties were without power. According to National Grid's Web site, the power should be restored by 11 p.m. today for Jefferson and Lewis counties and by 5 p.m. Friday for St. Lawrence County.


"St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego counties were the hardest hit of the storm," Mr. Bianchetti said Wednesday afternoon. "We have four or five times the number of personnel out there working right now than we normally have in our whole central region. As of right now, we believe that major restoration efforts will take all day tomorrow with some scattered outages lasting into Friday — mostly in the hardest hit areas like Sandy Creek and Lowville."


According to National Grid, more than 100 poles and 300 power lines went down, and there were 400 instances of tree damage to utility equipment.


In Sandy Creek, the Elms Golf Club was hit hard.


"It's pretty unbelievable," said Scott J. Hilton, head golf professional. "Some of our members said they saw a tornado touch down. We believe it was either a microburst or a tornado. There were 110-mile-an-hour winds that just ripped down our main road. It devastated our entire course."


He said 500 to 600 trees throughout the course had fallen.


Mr. Hilton's grandfather, Frank A. Pizzuto, the founder and former owner of the club, was driving on the club grounds when the storm hit.


"He was trapped in his car," Mr. Hilton said. "About 25 trees were on and around his car. When we got to him, we had to get him out through the trunk."


All roads leading into and out of the club are blocked by downed trees, Mr. Hilton said, and patrons had to drive through the course to get to Route 3.


"That's the only way we've been able to enter the course," he said Wednesday. "An insurance adjuster is supposed to be out tomorrow to look at the damage. Until then, we can't touch anything."


Mr. Hilton also said he expects the entire club to be shut down for about a week. Until then, golf leagues are being directed to The Pines Golf Club in Pulaski, which the Pizzuto family also owns.


While conditions in Sandy Creek are improving, town Supervisor Lonnie Crast has not lifted the state of emergency he declared Tuesday. Trees and downed wires are still blocking some roads and there are still residents without power.


The main roads are clear, but some back roads are still blocked, Mr. Crast said in a press release.


"We're still urging people to use caution when traveling through the town," he said in the release.


Potable water is available for all town residents under the pavilion at the Lacona Firemen's Field Day grounds on Maple Avenue. Maximum container size is five gallons.


The Carthage area also was hit hard by the storm.


The Department of Public Works has been working to get roads open and debris cleared.


"We're just plugging away," Carthage DPW Superintendent Daniel F. Trembley said. "We have a lot of streets with trees down."


Many residents have cleared downed branches and trees and put them by the street for the DPW to pick up, and there also are many trees on city land that have been uprooted.


Mr. Trembley said residents should use caution when trying to remove fallen trees from their property.


"Also, make sure to keep the piles off of the streets and the sidewalks," he said.


Along Route 126, Larry W. Eddy stood, chain saw in hand, at the foot of a large maple tree that came crashing to the ground during the storm.


That tree, which Mr. Eddy estimated to be more than 100 years old, landed within a few feet of the historic stone home built by Noadiah Hubbard 188 years ago in the Champion hamlet.


The house is considered one of the oldest in Jefferson County.


Mr. Eddy laughed when asked about any damage the tree caused.


"Took out the flower bed," he said.


SECOND STORM DIDN'T HELP


A second storm that pelted the north country Tuesday wasn't generally as strong as the afternoon downpour, but it had worse effects in the Adirondacks.


A Pennsylvania motorcyclist was killed when he hit a blown-down tree that was blocking Springfield Road in the Essex County town of Wilmington.


State police responded to the 7:15 p.m. accident in the midst of a severe rain and windstorm to find Gordon R. Hall Jr., 51, New Columbia, severely injured. He and his motorcycle had been thrown a short distance after hitting the tree.


He was taken to Adirondack Medical Center, Saranac Lake, where he was pronounced dead.


Observers at the National Weather Service in Burlington, Vt., said reports of damage are trickling in.


"We can't get hold of people because the phones lines are down from the previous storm," said Gerald A. Macke, a technician. "There's a lot of trees down all over Northern New York."


The second storm swept Tupper Lake with 80-mph winds and peppered it with 13/4-inch hail.


"That's a pretty good-sized piece of ice," Mr. Macke said.


Police Chief Thomas J. Fee said the storm rolled in from the northwest.


"I thought it was going to miss us. It came in hard," he said. "I have an apartment house. I don't have a garage there anymore."


Power remained out Wednesday, but Chief Fee said crews were working hard to free lines from fallen limbs.


In St. Lawrence County, more than 6,000 National Grid customers remained in the dark Wednesday afternoon, but the utility had told county officials earlier in the day it hoped to restore electricity to most by midnight.


Some areas, including South Colton, might not have service until the following day, Colton Councilman Joseph P. Zelinski said he was told.


"There's a lot of big trees hung up in the lines," he said. "The damage was mostly trees blocking roads and taking down the utilities. There have been a number of houses that took a big hit."


In Hogansburg, the First Amer-icans IGA supermarket owned by the St. Regis Mohawk tribe had to throw out all of its frozen and refrigerated foods because of a 10-hour power outage caused by Tuesday's thunderstorms.


The losses will be covered by the tribe's business insurance policy. The tribe will submit a claim with its insurer once it determines the extent of the loss, said Brian A. Fent, the tribe's chief financial officer.


The outage also affected the Quiznos and Charlie Biggs restaurants housed in the IGA building on Route 37. The store and restaurants will resume normal operations this afternoon, after they have been restocked.


LEWIS COUNTY IMPROVES


"We're getting much better," Lewis County Emergency Manager James M. Martin said Wednesday afternoon.


While major roads were cleared of debris Tuesday, town highway crews were out Wednesday morning reopening back roads still cluttered with fallen trees and branches, Mr. Martin said.


"The big issue is the power," he said, noting that electrical service had yet to be restored to some areas around Harrisville, Croghan and Beaver Falls.


Most of the county should have power by this morning, although outlying areas may be off until Friday, Mr. Martin said.


National Grid is coordinating local power restoration efforts from a mobile command bus parked outside the Lewis County Public Safety Building.


No autopsy was conducted on the body of Kenneth A. Yousey Jr., 47, of Route 812, Croghan, who was killed early Tuesday afternoon when he was hit by falling trees while loading logs on Wahalula truck trail in the town of Croghan. Based on external examinations, the cause of death was listed as a massive skull fracture resulting from blunt force trauma, said Dale W. Roberts, senior investigator with the Lewis County Sheriff's Department.

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