TOWN OF FLORENCE — Through terrible snows and deep cold this morning, rescue crews were called out to a nearly impassable River Road for a worrisome emergency: a pregnant woman was trapped in her car and experiencing contractions.
It was one of dozens of snow and water-related emergencies that strained rescue crews across the county this morning.
“They tried to get to the hospital and they got stuck in the middle of the road,” said Florence Fire Chief Scott Outtrim this morning. The couple in their small car had managed to make it several miles from their home through the unplowed roads, he explained, but they got stuck on River Road shortly before 7 a.m.
“They didn’t have the best tires,” he said. The 9-1-1 Center was able to ping their location off the couple’s cell phone.
Outtrim said his firefighters passed the county snowplow on their way to the scene, their rescue apparatus cruising through the white powder. They were met by a patrol car from the Sheriff’s Office, who had driven in from nearby Camden. The chief said the deputy decided that the roads were too impassable for the ambulance to make it through.
“She didn’t want to get out of the car,” said Outtrim of the expecting mother, whose name he did not release. She and her partner didn’t have to wait too long for help.
The chief said the snowplow came through and cleared a path down River Road. Their makeshift caravan — the deputy in front, the pregnant couple in the middle and the rescue rig taking up the rear — then set out to meet the Camden Ambulance in the village.
Outtrim said they were able to pass off their patient and she went on to a local hospital — though he had not yet heard by this morning what happened after she arrived.
Florence was joined by fire departments across the county responding to snow emergencies this morning, especially in the Sylvan Beach area.
“We had a warm, southerly flow coming up out of the southern states,” which gave us the unseasonably warm 56-degree Friday, explained Meteorologist Jim Brewster of the National Weather Service this morning. “That slid east and we had a very strong arctic cold front move through last night.”
Brewster said this led to a drop of more than 50 degrees, with “a little wave of low pressure” in the middle of the front adding to the snowfall. Snow watchers in Oneida County recorded from five to nearly nine inches of snow in spots.
“We’re really not breaking the cold at all this week,” Brewster added.
Temperatures will dip to minus 10 degrees tonight, with even colder wind chills, he explained. The temperatures will only rise to 5 or 10 degrees on Sunday, and maybe up to 20 on Monday. Brewster said the snows have stopped, with only light flurries over the next few days.
Beset by floods
While the warm temperatures and heavy rainfall of just a few days ago may be a thing of the past, their impact is still being felt in a major way by residents impacted by flooding in several spots across the region.
“It’s pretty bad out here,” said a firefighter at the Sylvan Beach Fire Station this morning. Crews from Sylvan Beach, Vienna and Taberg were out early and were very busy aiding citizens trapped by rising flood waters.
Authorities said Fish Creek flooded after the heavy rains and high temperatures on Friday, causing even more problems than the heavy snows. The fire station was set up to take in stranded residents as crews rushed to help anyone in need.
In Whitesboro, many residents who live along the Sauquoit Creek,
Officials ordered evacuations in the areas surrounding the Creek, specifically Gardner Street, Davis Avenue, Ellis Avenue, Ablett Avenue, Ellmore Drive, Dunham Place, Wind Place and Sauquoit Street, were ordered to evacuate their homes around 10 a.m.
Rescue crews from multiple fire departments were also placed on alert to assist any evacuees who were having trouble getting out. The Oriskany swift water rescue team was dispatched to assist several residents off of flooded porches.
A Red Cross shelter was put in place at the Whitesboro Fire Station on Oriskany Boulevard.
In the city
In Rome, heavy snows seemed to get ahead of snowplow crews, leaving several cars stranded throughout city streets this morning.
“At about 5 o’clock, it opened up. You couldn’t see the hand in front of your face,” said Tom Jones, supervisor of streets with the city Department of Public Works. “There was poor visibility, we had to go nice and slow.”
Jones said the city’s full snowplow fleet was on the streets by about 4 a.m., when there was already 2 to 3 inches of powder — and it only got worse from there. He said some snowplows had trouble with their windshield wipers freezing over.
Officials with the city fire and police departments said there were no major emergencies in Rome due to the snow, beyond numerous cars being struck in and along city streets.
“People are encouraged to take their time in their travels,” advised Police Captain Dominick Corigliano. “Give the city the time to clean up before it’s absolutely necessary to go out.”
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. issued a travel advisory early this morning, urging no unnecessary travel while in Madison County the Sheriff’s Department issued a travel advisory for all of Madison County until this afternoon because of the freezing rain, sleet and snow.