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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

'Residents Count Their Blessings'
Day 4 Without Electricity:
Aftermath of the Windstorm
By Brian Quinn-bquinn@batavianews.com

More vehicles pulled into the City of Batavia Fire Department Monday afternoon including couples who after a couple of days without power, hoped the lights would be back on that day or by this morning.

City firefighters, collaborating with National Grid, had been distributing packages of bottled water and blocks of dry ice from about noon to 4 p.m. both Sunday and Monday.

Coming from their home in North Java to Batavia to pick up a couple packages of bottled water and four blocks of dry ice were Rory and Carol Benkleman. The Benklemans said they lost power Saturday afternoon.

“Hopefully it’s going to be on when we get home,” Rory Benkleman said as their car sat in the vehicle bay at the city Fire Department. Carol Benkleman said they were hoping it would be back on Monday or today.

“This was the closest site we could find. Either that or you’ve got to go to Erie County or Niagara County,” she said. The Benklemans have five people in their family total, they said. They’re in pretty good shape with a gas stove on which they can cook.

“You can still make soup and stuff like that, so you can still have the warm food,” Carol Benkleman said. “It was 50-something (degrees) this morning when we woke up. It was chilly, between the two pairs of socks, the sweatshirt, the sweatpants and a lot of comforters.”

Everyone in their area was out, but a couple of the neighbors have full home generators, Rory Benkleman said. The Benklemans say they plan to have a generator within the next year.

“We don’t want to go through this again. I mean, if it goes out for a day, that’s fine, but when it starts to be a couple of days, that’s when you start really panicking,” Carol Benkleman said. “I had my mom with us and she’s 93. We had to take her home. She had power. Because the storm was coming, we didn’t know if she was going to lose power, so we kept her at our house.”

Carol Benkleman’s mother, who lives in Elma, still had power as of Monday, her daughter said. “She’s going good. We ended up filling up a lot of jugs of water so we could do some of our dishes and stuff like that,” she said.

Kendall resident Richard Costa said he did not need any bottled water, but accepted three blocks of dry ice from firefighters. Costa said he was away part of the weekend, but that he thinks his home was without power since Saturday.

“I was away on a trip and I just got back last night (Sunday), so I wasn’t aware of the entire time,” he said. “We’re still out today and it looks like we’re going to be out at least until midnight tonight.” He said he and his wife, Eileen, were managing OK despite the outage.

“I have a wood stove, so I’ve been keeping warm. Our cook stove is propane, so we’ve been able to cook,” he said. “We’re not in bad shape at all. We’ve got plenty of water, but we certainly have neighbors that don’t have the heat, so that’s the real issue. Not everybody has wood stoves so they can use wood.”

Costa smiled and said if there was anything he didn’t have that he needs, it would be a generator.

“We have a couple of freezers, so we have food,” Costa said. “I have three (dry ice boxes) because I have two freezers and I have a refrigerator. That should cover us. Our immediate neighbors all seem to have generators. I’m the only one who’s lacking that, but it’s not a major issue.

“I think this is the third time in 30 years we’ve been out of power for this long. It’s not been a real issue for us,” he said.

Andrea Thomas of Wolcottsville, just north of Akron, pulled into the department Monday afternoon. She and her two daughters had been without power since Saturday evening. Asked how well they’d been managing during the outage, Thomas said, “Not great, but OK, just with a small generator. It’s only hooked up to a heater.”

Their whole street was without power as of Monday afternoon, she said. The estimated restoration time they were given was midnight Tuesday. Thomas was taking home two blocks of dry ice and a package of bottled water.

Batavia High School’s auditorium roof was damaged during the windstorm Saturday, district the district said in a press release Monday afternoon. The damage included the dampers that bring in outside air to that part of the building. Per regulations from the state Education Department, to be able to use the auditorium, the school must be able to draw in outside air, the district said.

On Monday, all of the district schools were open and a roofing company began work to weatherproof the High School roof and determine long-term repair requirements.

“Therefore, the BHS auditorium will remain closed until we have determined what resources will be needed to restore the auditorium to code in order to be used by students, staff, and the community. The rest of Batavia High School is operational for students and staff,” district officials said Monday afternoon. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and we will provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.”

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