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PH Extends Hospitality during Deadly Ice Storm
On Friday, December 12, the Albany area’s worst ice storm since 1987 left thousands without electrical power, water and heat for nearly a week. St. Joseph’s Provincial House operated on its generator for nearly four days and was able to provide shelter to several family members, employees and friends who were left without heat in the frigid weather. The sisters were preparing to welcome 50 elderly residents of Our Lady of Hope Nursing Facility when the Home’s power was restored.
Albany, Schenectady, Troy and surrounding towns and villages were declared disaster areas as public-works employees began the slow process of clearing roads cluttered with downed limbs and whole uprooted trees. On Saturday, temperatures dipped into the 20s, and National Grid announced that it would be several days before full power was restored. As the cold weather set in, people began using various forms of portable indoor heating, resulting in hospitalizations and deaths from carbon-dioxide poisoning. Several locations opened shelters which were full for the duration. Price Chopper, a local supermarket chain, donated hamburgers, hotdogs and other food items to the shelters while Red Cross volunteers checked homes to be sure residents were safe.
In the village of Latham, where the Provincial House is located, ice two-to-three inches thick caused several local transformer explosions and road closings. Live electrical wires in the roads and in people’s yards caused near-panic situations as hotels filled up with freezing-cold families and hardware stores sold out of generators, flashlights, batteries, fire logs and chain saws.
On December 16, New York State Governor David A. Paterson announced that a State Disaster Emergency had been declared to expedite assistance to sixteen counties, including many counties where our sisters serve. In addition, Governor Paterson has implemented the State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan which authorizes the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) to coordinate the appropriate State agencies in assisting local governments in taking appropriate action to protect property and to assist those affected local governments and individuals in responding to and recovering from these storms.
The Provincial House suffered the loss of hundreds of trees and several car windshields, but the damage was minimal compared to that of so many of our neighbors. We were blessed to be able to provide a warm shelter, a hot shower and fresh food to the “dear neighbor.” View the photos below and a slide show of St. Joseph's Provincial House after the storm by clicking here in the Provincial House section.
While the ice storm resulted in terrible damage to lives and homes, it was not without its own haunting beauty.