FONDA - The effects of Hurricane Sandy are expected to hit Montgomery and Fulton counties later today and bring wind gusts of up to 50 mph, forecasters said.
"The thing that's going to be a concern in your area will be power outages," Vasil Koleki, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Albany office, said this morning.
The storm, making landfall on the New Jersey coast today, will bring strong winds tonight and into early Tuesday in local counties. The area also can expect to see several days of rain, forecasters said. At least an inch of rain is expected.
Price Chopper Co-Manager Benjamin Moore places bottled water on the shelves at the store in Gloversville this morning. People have been stocking up on bottled water in preparation for Hurricane Sandy.
The Leader-Herald/Levi Pascher
Interim Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Richard Sager prepares for a Hurricane Sandy briefing Sunday afternoon at the Montgomery County Emergency Management Office in Fonda.
The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland
Sandy, a Category 1 storm, will turn northeast after hitting New Jersey and blanket New York, New Hampshire and portions of Maine before moving up into Canada, officials said.
Koleki this morning said the storm had shifted slightly, hitting farther south on the New Jersey coast than previously expected. The storm's effects will be felt the most in areas around New York City.
Fulton and Montgomery counties, said Koleki, are expected to see winds reaching 20 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph.
This afternoon, Montgomery County declared a state of emergency, telling motorists there must be no unnecessary travel in the county. Motorists violating the order may be ticketed, a news release said. Previously, the village of Fonda declared a state of emergency.
Interim Emergency Management Director Richard Sager said Sunday that according to reports from the National Weather Service, the storm probably will not cause much flooding in Montgomery County.
"It's nowhere near as bad as Irene and Lee as far as water content from the flooding," Sager said. "What we will see that we didn't see with Irene and Lee are the high winds ... They are predicting widespread power outages, trees down, poles down, that sort of thing."
Fonda Volunteer Fire Department Chief Donald Wagoner said navigational levels on the Mohawk River were below normal this morning.
He said his fire company was getting its vehicles ready, making sure generators were working, pumps were running and emergency gas cans filled.
Sager said emergency shelters will be set up at Fonda-Fultonville Central School in Fonda, McNulty School in Amsterdam and Canajoharie High School.
Area school districts remained opened today, but many, such as the Mayfield Central School District, canceled after-school activities.
Mayfield schools could close Tuesday, said Superintendent Paul Williamsen.
"It really depends on the power," he said.
Fonda-Fultonville schools were sending students home early today.
Fulton-Montgomery Community College closed at 2 p.m. today.
St. Mary's Healthcare in Amsterdam canceled appointments in the Cancer Medicine Center and closed the PROS program and the Adult Day Health Center for today. Elective surgeries were carried out until 10 a.m.
Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville reported day surgeries will continue as scheduled today.
In Johnstown, officials mostly are concerned about power outages.
Johnstown Fire Chief Bruce Heberer said his city probably also will have some flooded cellars. He said most of the leaves are off trees, which is good.
Heberer said a special Fulton County Emergency Operations Center at the County Services Complex on Route 29 was due to open this morning.
"There's going to be a lot of power lines down," predicted Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey. "Make sure you know where your children are."
He said deputies will be on normal patrol, responding to situations as they arise.
"We don't do anything more than we always do," Lorey said. "Luckily, I think we're on the northern fringe of it."
Berkshire Volunteer Fire Department Acting Chief Michael Martin said preparations always start with workable equipment.
"We want to just make sure all our equipment is ready, such as portable pumps and standby generators," he said.
Gloversville police Capt. John Sira advised people to "keep your head up."
"I would say if any power lines are down, leave them for the appropriate services," he said. "Be aware of what's overhead."
Sira also urged city motorists to use "due caution" when traveling on Gloversville streets the next three days.
Area stores have been flooded with customers stocking up on items as Hurricane Sandy approaches.
The True Value at 86 E. Fulton St. in Gloversville had nearly been cleared out of batteries for flashlights and lanterns over the last few days, said store manager Ed Mally.
"Pretty much anything that fits a lantern or flashlight has been sold out," he said this morning.
"People have been in and out of here all weekend looking for items if the power goes out," said Mally.
The Noble Ace Hardware store on South Comrie Avenue in Johnstown has seen several of the same purchases over the last couple of days, said store manager Michael Boucher.
He said the store has stocked up on batteries, flashlights, gas cans and generators to prepare for the increased demand.
"We have sold 12 generators in the last day and we will be selling more today," Boucher said this morning. "We currently have some and more are coming. The only thing we might be out of are the hurricane lamps and oil, but everything else will be in stock."
A Tractor Supply representative in Gloversville said this morning the store is out of generators because of the demand.
Gloversville Price Chopper Manager Lori Leonard said her store has had difficulty keeping the shelves full of certain items.