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County residents cope with the cold

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Frigid weather this week — as cold as minus 13 degrees overnight with wind chills of minus 29 — has made life tougher for those who work outside.

Morristown Fire Chief Kevin J. Crosby said he “prays he does not get calls.” With below-freezing temperatures, hoses have to be run on a constant flow, he said.

“Basically, if the water flow stops, the hose has a chance of freezing,” he said. “It can break a line or the hose, and it can fly all over the place and potentially hurt any firefighters standing nearby.”

Firefighters also risk falling on icy driveways and frostbite in subzero temperatures.

“We stand outside in thermal gear, but we are not equipped with arctic weather gear,” he said. “There is some insulation, but not when it is this cold.”

The cold also presents problems for other basic services. Michael P. Donahue, who handles garbage for the Massena Department of Public Works, was out from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, and spent much of the time on the back of a garbage truck, where he was fully exposed to the bitter winds. By the afternoon he felt cold, tired and totally drained.

“We’re moving enough to stay pretty warm. But everything’s frozen in the cans, which makes everything more difficult, for sure,” Mr. Donahue said.

The cold also caused pipes to freeze in many homes. Kevin P. Clemons, a plumber for Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain in Massena, cleared at least six frozen pipes in the last few days.

Mr. Clemons recommends insulating exposed pipes and leaving the water running at a trickle overnight. Discolored water is a sign the pipes are beginning to freeze, he said.

Tracy S. Vanarnam, owner of Morristown Fuel and Supply Co., 501 Chapman St., Morristown, said the biggest challenge facing fuel oil providers in subzero temperatures is just keeping up with the demand.

“A lot of customers don’t plan ahead to have a lot of reserve fuel oil,” she said. “It’s just a matter of getting around to everybody on a timely basis. Let’s just say you can’t run out and go through the night without fuel oil this time of year.”

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