East Syracuse Neighbors picking up brush. Parents keeping a watchful eye over wandering children. Power lines laying on the streets. Trees on top of houses and cars. All of these were common sights during the evening hours of July 8 and the majority of the next day in the village of East Syracuse following a storm that tore through the village around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 8.
Words like “war zone” and “Labor Day Storm” were being used by neighbors to describe the damage done to the village, which was described by Onondaga County Commissioner for Emergency Management Kevin Wisely as the “epicenter” of the storm. Not long after the winds died down and the rain stopped falling, Mayor Robert Tackman issued a state of emergency for the village.
“The village was just a wreck, it was in shambles,” said Lieutenant Nate Baker, of the East Syracuse Fire Department. “We couldn’t even get to some calls because of blocked roads. This is worse than the storm we got last year – more calls, more intense damage and so many people lost power.”
At 6 a.m. on July 9, National Grid reported that about 30,000 people in Onondaga, Madison and Oswego Counties were without power. And the largest outages took place in the town of DeWitt – including nearly all 1,600 customers in the village of East Syracuse.
According to National Grid Customer and Community Manager John Fiume, the power substation that feeds the village of East Syracuse was knocked out – possibly by lightning – and crews began working in the evening hours after the storm to begin repairing it. He hopes that customers will begin to see their lights coming back on by this evening.
“It’s not like we can just flip one switch and everyone’s power will come back on – we have to do it in phases,” Fiume said. “It’s a lengthy process, and safety is the number one priority.”