SARANAC LAKE - Village officials were lowering the water level in Lake Flower on Friday and Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency across New York in anticipation of the powerful storm expected to slam the region as soon as Sunday night.
With the possibility of a "super storm" forming from a combination of Hurricane Sandy, a storm moving across the country from the west and cold air from Canada, Cuomo said he was making the emergency declaration as a precaution and was seeking a federal pre-disaster designation to have the National Guard on alert if needed.
The unusual combination of weather could produce powerful rains, wind, flooding and possibly snow, forecasters said. The storm would likely hit the state hardest on Monday and Tuesday.
In Saranac Lake, village officials said in a press release that they began gradually lowering the level of Lake Flower two days ago and planned to do so more aggressively over the weekend.
The village said its Department of Public Works will continue sweeping village streets so leaves and debris will not clog storm sewers. Crews were also making sure that all generators and associated equipment are in proper working order, and DPW trucks were readied for plowing and snow removal. Residents were advised that depositing leaves and brush on village sidewalks and streets is illegal and doing so can create dangerous situations, especially during heavy rain and snow events.
Mayor Clyde Rabideau advised village residents to secure their homes and tune in to local and national media for weather updates and preparedness information. He said village officials would remain in contact with emergency services personnel in both Essex and Franklin counties.
"Our management and crews will be on continuous alert throughout the storm and we will update village residents continuously," Rabideau said in the release.
Essex County officials were also planning for the storm.
"We are preparing now to have a coordinated response to this potential emergency," Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish said in a Friday press release. "We encourage our residents to get ready as well by watching the weather, preparing an emergency kit and having a plan ready to respond to specific family needs."
Among other measures, Jaquish encourages people to keep their cell phone charged, fill their gas tanks and stock items for 3 to 5 days such as nonperishable food, water, batteries, candles, first-aid supplies, copies of important documents, prescription medications if appropriate and pet supplies.
Jaquish also reminded residents to only use generators, charcoal grills, camp stoves, gasoline engines or other fuel-burning devices outdoors; stay away from downed power lines; and check up on neighbors to see if they need help.
The Essex County website, www.co.essex.ny.us, has a link dedicated to the storm.
In the town of Jay, Supervisor Randy Douglas said he's been in regular contact with the state Emergency Office, the Governor's Office, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service as well as various state, county and town officials in an attempt to form and implement contingency plans for the potential impact of the storm.
"We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best," Douglas said.
A meeting was held Friday afternoon in the Jay Community Center for local emergency officials in the towns of Jay, Black Brook and Keene to discuss and prepare a plan of action for the storm. Douglas said residents would be kept informed through the local news media, including the Jay Community News and the town of Jay website.
The North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross, based in Plattsburgh, said it was contacting volunteers to see who is available to respond to the storm and for how long. The chapter also said in a statement that it would send its Emergency Response Vehicle to affected areas to help with disaster response.
"The Red Cross is urging our communities to take time this weekend to prepare for the possibility of flooding, high winds, and sustained power outages," the statement said.