ELMIRA, N.Y. (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of upstate New York residents were without power Tuesday after superstorm Sandy's high winds knocked down trees and utility lines, forced schools and local government offices to shut down and killed a motorist who was a struck by a flying
section of a trailer home's roof.
The massive storm continued its march through the region, prompting schools, government offices and many businesses to close for fear of widespread damage from high winds. About 2.2 million utility statewide were without power, most of them in New York City and on Long Island. About 420,000 of the outages were in upstate New York.
Joel Robinson of the Sullivan Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross said the rainfall in the Elmira area is expected to cause localized stream flooding, but no major river flooding. High winds are the big fear, especially in an area struck by a tornado in July.
"After the tornado went through, there are a lot of weakened trees," he said. "Some of them were taken down. But some of them maybe didn't show the damage they received from the tornado. The big concern is that if we get high, sustained winds, a lot more than normal trees might come down."
Municipal offices, colleges and dozens of school districts across the state shut down Monday, hours before the storm — a hybrid behemoth formed as Sandy merged with a winter storm from the west and an arctic blast from the north — was expected to arrive with heavy rain and high winds.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state was working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard as the brunt of the storm started leaving New York City on Monday night.
"We're worried about search and rescue" on Tuesday, Cuomo said.
At least seven people have been confirmed dead in the state.
Rain was expected to be less of a problem than wind in most of the upstate region, but some minor stream flooding was predicted in the Catskill Mountains. Flooding was reported along the Hudson River in the Poughkeepsie and Kingston areas due to the Atlantic storm surge, and wind-driven waves threatened homes along the shore of Lake Ontario in western New York.
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein said a motorist's death Monday is being blamed on the storm, numerous roads were closed and flooding was reported along the Hudson River, but his county for the most part escaped the type of damage caused by Irene in August 2011.
"We understand what real devastation is like," he said. "But the way this storm moved, much of the fury went exactly around Ulster County."
With waves on Lake Ontario projected to hit 8 to 10 feet overnight, automated calls went out to warn around 13,000 Rochester-area residents who live in lakeside communities. Residents were told that if they didn't feel safe, there were five shelters opening around the city.
The county issued an evacuation order for about 2,200 homes along the lakeshore in Rochester and the neighboring town of Greece. It wasn't immediately clear Tuesday how many had left their lakeside homes.
The Bruce Springsteen concerted scheduled for Rochester's downtown arena Tuesday night was pushed back to Wednesday because of the storm.
Emergency officials next door in rural Wayne County also suggested that homeowners right on the shore evacuate their homes.
High-wind warnings were posted for all of central New York for Tuesday morning with frequent gusts of 50 to 60 mph and occasional gusts of 70 mph in the western Catskills.
Widespread and prolonged power outages, blocked roads, and substantial property damage were anticipated as the winds knocked down trees.
Associated Press writers Michael Virtanen in Schoharie, Carolyn Thompson in Niagara County and Chris Carola in Albany contributed.