Ten Years ago: Saratoga and The Blizzard of 2006

Ten Years After: If you were living in or around Saratoga Springs in 2006, you remember. In mid-February, a low-pressure system moved in across New York and southern New England dropping snow at a rate of up to three to four inches per hour. Flights were cancelled, railroad service shut down and in Saratoga Springs the winter storm plunged the city into an icy darkness during the three-day President's Day weekend. The blackout lasted for several days, causing food businesses to lose thousands of dollars in sales and product, and the annual Dance Flurry to be cancelled. Statewide, 213,000 National Grid customers lost power. Fifty-three year old George Green, a state transportation worker and a father of three from Saratoga Springs, was killed when his truck was crushed beneath a wind-swept tree on the Avenue of the Pines in Saratoga Spa State Park. High winds, measured at a top wind speed of 98 mph at the Saratoga County Airport on Feb. 17 resulted in more than 350 downed utility poles and miles of electric wire.

Reporting on the event and trying to get information out to the public was a dicey mixture of navigating through frozen streets in the darkness for several days; relying on the kindness of strangers to power up laptops, and finding ways to stay warm. The newly constructed Maple Avenue Middle School was opened as an emergency shelter to house area residents and families who had for days suffered through the bitter cold. Eileen Reardon, then executive director of the Adirondack-Saratoga chapter of the Red Cross, tended to the shelter.

“How long will you be here?” I remember asking her.

“We’ll be here until everyone starts clapping that the power is back on,” she said. That wait would last several days.

Matt McCabe, the finance commissioner at the time, subsequently initiated a plan to secure a generator for City Hall should Saratoga Springs be faced with a similar disaster in the future.

A presser will be staged Tuesday to announce details of the United Way of the Greater Capital Region’s involvement in stepping in to help Code Blue Saratoga – the city’s emergency homeless shelter located at the Salvation army on Walworth Avenue.

Code Blue Saratoga - a not-for-profit staffed almost entirely by volunteers - has struggled to fund additional nights of service in an attempt to expand programs to comply with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order. For more information on Code Blue Saratoga and what you can do to help, go here: https://www.codebluesaratoga.org/wordpress/