Strong Storms Tear Across the State
7/26/2012 (Updated 6:58:54 PM)A fierce storm tears across the Southern Tier producing damaging straight line winds and reports of tornadoes.
We have unconfirmed reports of a tornado at the mall in Elmira.
Closer to home there are reports of trees down in Owego, and some heavy damage in Vestal Center.
There are about four thousand customers without power in Broome and Tioga county, and 12 thousand in Chemung.
Our crew was out along the Vestal Parkway, and noticed power was out in several locations.
There is flooding in spots along the Vestal Parkway including the entrances to BU and in other spots as well. We saw a car partially submerged right around the corner from our station on the Vestal Parkway.
Severe weather has officials scrambling Thursday night, after spending the day preparing for strong storms.
The Department of Transportation and state police kept a close eye on conditions at the DOT operations center in the Town of Dickinson Thursday afternoon.
The advice from state police is to have a weather radio, check travel plans and stay home if possible, and to be prepared for extended power outages.
Police will work with the DOT to keep the roads as safe as possible.
"We have cars out on the road all the time so we are able to keep DOT apprised of road conditions and blocked roads. Generally people will call us first. We can relay that to the Department of Transportation," said Lt. Robert Croswell of the New York State Police.
"We make sure that drainage intakes are clean and able to flow. We take care of that even before the storm occurs. We know that if there is an area that needs attention we take care of that," said Dave Hamburg of the Department of Transportation.
State police also urge people to stay off emergency lines for routine requests.
The key to riding out a severe storm is preparation.
An EMS Coordinator for Broome County spoke with us, and stressed how fast these storms can move in.
He says that people shouldn't wait for the warnings to stock up on supplies.
The Emergency Services staff prepared by calling in more employees to deal with trees that may fall down.
"Well, people need to take this situation very seriously. There is potential for some exceptionally violent weather to materialize in our area. So if anybody's not keeping an eye on the situation, they could be overtaken by a violent storm very quickly here," Raymond Serowik an EMS Coordinator.
Emergency supplies include extra food, water, flashlights, batteries.
Officials also say it's important to stay informed. A good website to check is www.nyalert.gov
The Red Cross also says the best way to prepare for severe weather is to have a plan.
Among the things you should know: where family members are and how to get a hold of them. And you need to know where essentials like water, food, and medication are in case you need to evacuate an area quickly. And of course in the event of a tornado stay away from windows and seek shelter in a basement or interior room.
"I think it's being prepared. Know where your family is. Know what your plan is. What are you going to do? Where am I going to go? if it's a tornado warning know, 'OK, we've got to get everybody together. We need to know where everyone is. Let's get to the basement. Let's get to the inner-most room,'" said Shelly Bierwiler of the Southern Tier Chapter of the American Red Cross.
The Red Cross wants to remind people to use battery-powered lighting in the event of a power outage instead of candles, which can be a fire hazard.
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