SOMERS, N.Y.--High winds and heavy rain knocked out power this week to thousands of NYSEG customers in Somers. A third or more of those outages plunged residents of Heritage Hills into darkness and figured in a building fire. 

Lights started going out Sunday night as a daylong downpour, as much as 3 or 4 inches of rain whipped by gusts of gale-force winds, pounded the area. 

“We had very high winds last night, which caused a lot of trees to fall over,” said Kathleen Abels, a spokeswoman for New York State Electric & Gas.

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In Somers, some 3,600 customers began losing power shortly before 8 o’clock Sunday evening. Among those customers was the Somers Central School District, which closed all four schools for one day—Monday—before power was restored. Regular classes resumed on Tuesday, Halloween. 

In Heritage Hills, about 1,200 to 1,600 of the development’s 2,600 homes abruptly went dark after two of the five circuits feeding power to that community failed. A generator providing power to the development’s fitness center and security office was blamed for setting the building ablaze (see story, below).

For the Somers Volunteer Fire Department, the foul weather had already posed its share of headaches. More than a half-dozen times, volunteers responded when the storm tore power lines loose and spilled them onto Somers roadways, Fire Chief Jody Leverich said. Firefighters closed roads and secured the area while NYSEG crews cleared the downed lines. 

All told, some 27,000 NYSEG customers in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties were without power for extended periods, Abels said. Somers Supervisor Rick Morrissey said that after Putnam, the area hardest hit by the weather, “we had the second-highest outage.” 

Con Edison, which saw scattered power losses throughout Westchester, said it had no outages to report for Somers, where the utility supplies only a handful of customers.

NYSEG, which provides electricity to most of the town, suffered a double whammy with the winds’ high speed, which reportedly reached sporadic bursts of 50 to 60 mph.

In addition to taking down limbs, the winds were so strong “that we couldn’t have bucket trucks out, working up in the air,” Abels said. “So, we kept on make-safe crews last night and opened the office around 5 o’clock this morning. We’ve been working ever since.”

In Somers, Morrissey said at about mid-afternoon Monday, “I’m happy to report they’re down to about 624 people who are still out.” 

Still, Halloween trick-or-treaters faced the potential of a moonlit night with perhaps some occupied homes still in darkness. NYSEG said it expected a full return to service by 11:45 p.m. Oct. 31. 

“We’ve called in additional contractors,” Abels said on Monday afternoon, “so you’ll have more line crews showing up tomorrow.”