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High winds knock out power, down tree limbs in St. Lawrence County

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High winds knocked down tree limbs and power lines and left more than 4,000 St. Lawrence County residents temporarily without power Friday.

The outages started in midmorning in the southwestern part of the county and spread toward the northeast throughout the day, following the movement of a storm front that brought gusts topping 60 mph. Several high school sporting events and other activities were canceled, including all Section 10 girls and boys soccer playoff games. There were no reports of injuries.

“The number of outages fluctuated throughout the day,” said Keith J. Zimmerman, interim director of St. Lawrence County Emergency Services. “As power got restored in one place, it went out in another.”

A fiber-optic cable came down across Route 11 near Windy Hill Storage between Canton and Potsdam shortly after 11 a.m. Before first responders could arrive to detour traffic, one driver encountered a scare.

Suzanne L. Burnette, Russell, was traveling toward Canton in her Dodge van when she drove under the line seconds after it fell, cracking her windshield.

“I slammed on my brakes, but there was no way I could stop the van,” Ms. Burnette said. “I was terrified because I didn’t know if they were electric lines.”

About 900 customers in the village of Canton lost power for two hours, including the Canton Central School building complex and the St. Lawrence County Courthouse. The outage occurred at the State Street substation after three power lines went down. Power was restored when National Grid crews switched circuits to the Little River substation.

Emergency lighting was used in the Canton school hallways until power was restored. State employees in the courthouse were dismissed from work early.

Outages also were reported in Colton, Morristown, Norwood and Parishville and in the Ogdensburg area.

“There’s lots of scattered damage,” Mr. Zimmerman said. “There’s no major lines down and no major concentration of damage.”

In Potsdam, a fallen maple tree at 302 River St. knocked down a power line and sheared the top off a utility pole. The pole blocked the road for more than two hours as crews from the Potsdam Fire Department and National Grid worked to clear the scene.

There was also a report of a sheared power pole dangling over the roadway by a bridge in the town of Russell. One resident reported a trampoline blowing across Route 11 in the town of Stockholm. A trailer being pulled by a truck reportedly blew over.

In Jefferson County, firefighters were kept busy with downed wires and fallen tree limbs in roads. Starting late Thursday, they went on about 30 calls by mid-afternoon Friday, nearly half of them in the city of Watertown, officials said.

“Nothing we can’t handle,” Watertown City Fire Chief Dale C. Herman said.

National Grid reported 255 customers were without power in the Adams, Carthage and Watertown areas. Few outages were reported in Lewis County.

The National Weather Service reported top wind gusts of 63 mph in Massena, 61 mph in Potsdam and 49 mph in Watertown.

Temperatures in the mid-50s and lack of rain lessened the impact of the winds. The situation would have been worse if leaves were still on the trees, Mr. Zimmerman said.

“The tree limbs weren’t that heavy,” he said. “It could have been much worse.”



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