BROOME COUNTY, NY – Broome County Executive Jason Garnar is putting out an urgent plea to area motorists: please stay off the roads.

Only first responders, healthcare workers and essential government workers should be driving.

Garnar says that as major roadways are plowed, it is important to keep them clear for emergency vehicles as well as crews working to clear downed trees and power lines.

Garnar was joined by the county’s Director of Emergency Services Patrick Dewing during a Zoom briefing with the media Tuesday morning.

Garnar calls the storm both significant and dangerous.

He says between 6 and 12 inches of snow have blanketed the county.

He says he doesn’t ever recall in his 45 years of living in our area this many downed trees from such heavy, wet snow.

Garnar says the county’s response will be measured in days, not hours, and that he asks for patience with power restoration and the clearing of roadways.

He says roughly half of Broome County residents are without power and that the outages are widespread.

Dewing says the county’s 9-1-1 dispatch center received approximately 1700 calls between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. Tuesday.

While most of them were related to downed trees and power lines, there were several motor vehicle accidents along with a pair of working fires.

Officials warn people not to approach downed lines as some are still active and there have been reports of arcing and fires.

In some instances, people were trapped in the cars or homes by fallen trees.

No significant injuries were reported.

Garnar says Governor Hochul plans to visit the county later today for a briefing and that the state has pledged additional resources, especially tree-cutting crews.

The county is also repurposing parks employees to assist with snow removal and the clearing of trees.

Garnar plans another media briefing for later today and NewsChannel 34 will bring you that information as it is available.