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Irene uproots trees, cuts power

August 29, 2011

by TG Branfalt Jr.

Tree wrenches up sidewalk on Woodlawn Avenue (TG Branfalt Jr.)

Heavy rains and winds, the upstate effects of Hurricane Irene, downed branches, power lines and left many Pine Hills residents without power Sunday and Monday. Notably, on Woodlawn Avenue a huge tree was uprooted, wrenching a slab of sidewalk from its moorings.

The tree fell at about 9 a.m. Sunday, immediately knocking out power in the neighborhood. It bent a street light on its way down.

The tree was uprooted by heavy rains and winds. (TG Branfalt Jr.)

“I heard the crash, then I saw sprays of sparks. I knew when everything went black we had lost power,” said Al Lanese Jr., a Saint Rose graduate, who lives next door to where the tree fell. “A half hour later the transformer started shooting sparks and caught the branches on fire.”

Lanese’s wife called 911, and the Albany Fire Department responded shortly after.  The soaking rain had extinguished the fire by the time they arrived.

“We have a gas stove so we can cook, we have running water, but I don’t think that tree will be gone in two days, let alone [restored] power,” Lanese said.

Power outages were also reported on Ontario and Morris streets.

Street light wilted by felled tree. (TG Branfalt Jr.)

Handwritten signs in the windows of the Fountain Restaurant and the Sake Café on New Scotland Ave. indicated they had closed due to power loss.

Wind speeds ranging from 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 55mph were reported in Albany.

A flash flood warning had been issued for Albany County.

National Grid has set up both text message and Twitter updates for customers, according to their website, nationalgridus.com.

“I am one person that will be singing ‘Good Night Irene’ when this is over, I’ll be glad to see her go,” Lanese said.

Albany High School has been designated as a reception site for citizens in need of help and three other temporary sites, Sheridan Prep, Albany School of Humanities, and the former St. Teresa’s Church, will stop offering services at 3 p.m. today.

Felled tree blocks Woodlawn Avenue (TG Branfalt Jr.)

“We have 5,700 customers in the city of Albany without power,” Patrick Stella, spokesman for National Grid, told The Pine Hills blog Monday afternoon. “This is a major event, and we are telling customers to expect a multi-day event.”

The power supplier has dispatched 7,000 line and tree crews, some from out of state, throughout New York to restore services to customers, Stella said. -30-

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