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Power lines downed by icy tree limbs coiled on the frozen roadways all over Watertown Sunday. Photo: Joanna Richards
Power lines downed by icy tree limbs coiled on the frozen roadways all over Watertown Sunday. Photo: Joanna Richards

North country scraping its way out of blanket of ice

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Today is supposed to bring the last of the ice storm that's snapped branches and downed power lines all over the north country. Tens of thousands have lost power, including about 60 percent of customers in Jefferson County, which saw the brunt of the ice.

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Reported by

Joanna Richards
Watertown Correspondent

With the power out and much of the city closed down, Travis MacCue was doing all there was to do Sunday afternoon in Watertown: check out the destruction. He didn’t have to go far.

“I’m looking at an 80-foot tree, with about 20, 30 limbs down, two power lines broke. I’m surprised this man didn’t lose his front porch,” he said, from the sidewalk across the street from his house. His neighbor’s porch was spared, but his roof had an icy branch dangling above it.

Bob Simpson, Jefferson County deputy fire coordinator, manages the county's Emergency Operations Center during the storm. Photo: Joanna Richards
Bob Simpson, Jefferson County deputy fire coordinator, manages the county's Emergency Operations Center during the storm. Photo: Joanna Richards
He said his night was noisy.

“You could keep hearing branches breaking off and coming down and hitting the side of the house. One branch hit so bad here – such a big one – it knocked all my pictures right off the wall of my house,” MacCue said.

Last night, shelters set up throughout the county took in those without heat and people who needed to power medical devices.

Unburdened by windshield scraping, kids have fun in the snow and ice. Photo: Joanna Richards
Unburdened by windshield scraping, kids have fun in the snow and ice. Photo: Joanna Richards
Bob Simpson, the deputy fire coordinator for Jefferson County, is managing the emergency response center during the storm. He said communities along the Lake Ontario shoreline have been hit hardest, with the highest concentration of tree damage and power outages.

He said the county has been working with National Grid to identify priorities for restoring power. One of them was River Hospital. “Most of the other medical facilities, while they may have been on generator power, it wasn’t for an extended period of time like it was in Alexandria Bay,” he said. “So the goal was to get them up and running again.”

Frozen power lines were snapped by falling tree limbs. Photo: Joanna Richards
Frozen power lines were snapped by falling tree limbs. Photo: Joanna Richards
This storm is the first test of the county’s special emergency center since the notorious 1998 ice storm.

Simpson said many responders who helped the county make it through that disaster are back this time around – using what they learned. In one big, way, he said, the response is different now. “One of the things we’re doing new this time is social media, with Facebook and Twitter, to get information out to the public,” he said.

The Facebook page garnered over 100,000 hits in 24 hours.

Simpson says pushing information out that way helps answer people’s questions – and clears out phone lines for real emergency calls. 

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