TUPPER LAKE - The village and town of Tupper Lake declared a state of emergency this afternoon, warning against unnecessary travel around the municipality until Hurricane Sandy has passed.
The state of emergency is set to remain in effect until 2 p.m. Wednesday, when it will be assessed and could be continued.
Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost said that unlike last year's storms that brought dramatic flooding to the Tri-Lakes area, high winds are the biggest worry as Sandy approaches.
"Way more concerned about winds than we are about waters at this point in time," Provost said in a phone interview this afternoon.
Though it was quiet around 3 p.m., Provost said winds were starting to pick up in Saratoga, Syracuse and Watertown, so he anticipated they would hit here soon.
Village Mayor Paul Maroun said that all the village and town departments met late this morning to coordinate, and employees of each are ready to respond to any issues as soon as the storm hits.
"Everything that I can think of is ready to go," Maroun said.
The village electric, public works and water-wastewater departments, town highway workers and emergency services including fire, police and rescue squad personnel have checked that all their equipment is ready to go in case of an emergency.
He said the village is sending its employees home at 4 p.m., but asking them to be prepared to respond if there is an emergency.
Maroun expressed confidence in a power line that was constructed from Colton to Tupper Lake a few years ago. The goal of adding the line was to make the local power grid more reliable than just having one line coming into town from the east.
"If power goes down outside of our area, there's not much we can do," Maroun said. "I don't think the new line's going to go down. I'm hopeful it doesn't."
The village is keeping a dispatcher at the village police station 24 hours a day while the emergency declaration is in effect. If people have non-emergency issues, they can call the department at 518-359-3776 for help. In an emergency, people should call 911.
In addition, at least one paid driver will be stationed at the fire department 24 hours a day until the storm passes.
The fire department is set up in small crews so a few of them will respond to each call while leaving firefighters to stand by to respond to other calls.
Maroun said Tupper Lake is also coordinating with Santa Clara and the highway department there, since the fire department has a contract to protect Santa Clara as well. He said the plan is to keep all the main roads open by cutting up trees that are knocked into roads to be sure people can reach Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake if there is a medical emergency.
Maroun said officials are crossing their fingers that the area will be skipped over by the bulk of the storm.
"We're just hopeful that maybe it will skirt around us, somehow," Maroun said.
The Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce usually sponsors trick-or-treating at local businesses, which each participating business posting a sign in its window, and this year's is set for 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. Maroun said officials are waiting to see how the storm hits to know whether that can happen or not.
Contact Jessica Collier at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.