West Webster Fire District, like many others in upstate New York was hit by the largest storm in 12 years this weekend. Over 100,000 power customers regionally were out of power. The district began running calls on Thursday night and was still under Emergency Plans as of Sunday evening. Over 350 calls were run in this time.
Calls started as reports for downed tree limbs and moved on to limbs on fire and downed power lines and power lines on fire. A call came in for a downed power line and a person trapped. Arriving on location, crews found a women trapped in her house with a 45,000 volt line down in her front yard. In her house, she could not reach her car or even go out her front door due to the high power arcs from the split power line. Crews came in from the back of her house and removed her from a second story window and on to safety.
The power was felt trembling in the ground and it was popping and arching. Power came and went all night and finally in a blinding burst of sound and light the power went out for good and left the town in darkness. Darkness filled with pounding rain and ice.
Manpower went into high demand as all trucks made rounds all night and into the next two days. Calls switched to road closed calls and lots of downed power lines. Attempts were made to open roads and clear debris. Soon calls became water problems, as basements filled with water and no power for sump pumps. Many man-hours were spent and the firemen of West Webster received a few precious minutes of sleep as they prepared for the next round of winter snow and ice.