Halloween storm howled, left city residents in the dark

An unwelcome Halloween rain and wind storm tricked Cortland County’s costumed youngsters, prompted officials to declare a state of emergency and left the North side of the city in darkness.

Acting County Administrator Kevin Whitney announced this afternoon the emergency state as multiple roads were washed out and culverts severely damaged in in area communities, according to a news release. Town and County employees are assessing the damage, which is expected to cost thousands of dollars to repair, the release notes.

“Fortunately no lives were lost as result of this storm, but municipalities across the County are facing expensive repairs,” Whitney, the County’s legislative chairman noted. “By issuing this declaration it will ensure that if State and Federal funding is made available to off-set the cost of repairs communities in the County will be eligible for that assistance”.

Most city residences North of Groton Avenue lost power for about three hours Thursday night, said Acting Cortland Fire Chief Wayne Friedman. The Clock Tower at the corner of Main and Tompkins streets also lost power for a few hours, affecting residents and the calzone shop on the first floor, D.P. Dough.

As of 1:30 p.m. today, three outages on the North side of the city were affecting 18 customers, according to National Grid. The outages were on Banks, as well as on North Main between Madison Street and Arthur Avenue and on Groton Avenue between Woodruff Street and Homer Avenue. 

A tree fell on primary power lines on Banks Street and hung against them, while a transformer at the street also broke down, Friedman said. The Fire Department shut down the street, as well as Otter Creek Place as a telephone pole was listing precariously over wires on that road, he said.

The department answered 26 calls overnight, prompting off-duty and volunteer firefighters to assist the scheduled firefighters, Friedman said. Most of the calls were storm related, he said.

“Calls at any point in time were three or four deep so we had to shift people around,” Friedman said.

City streets had standing water on them as drains were overwhelmed, but the roads were passable, he said.

“We got lucky, actually,” Friedman said, adding Cincinnatus, Willet, Marathon, Lapeer and Homer all had more extensive road damage.

The National Weather Service estimated this afternoon Cortland received 2 inches of rain overnight.

The Tioughnioga River in Cortland doubled its water volume overnight, settling into a minor flood stage at 8 feet 2 inches, according to service.  The river was forecasted to fall to about four-and-a-half feet on Saturday, the the National Weather Service stated.

Willet received the most rain, 3.31 inches, in the County, said Meterologist Mike Murphy of the service’s Binghamton branch.

The Cortland County Airport on Old Groton Road in Cortlandville reported 44 mph wind gusts at 7:30 p.m., Murphy said. The airport also measured sustained winds of 20 to 25 mph, he added.