Welcome to the Hudson Valley! Orange County is the only county in the state of New York bordered by both the Hudson and Delaware rivers. Orange County is where the Great Valley of the Appalachians finally opens up and ends.
Orange County, population 382,226 in July 2017, is home to the town of Goshen, the county seat, and the United States Military Academy, West Point.
The county is rich in historical and cultural attractions — many dating to the 1700s — as well as modern amenities. In addition to sweeping landscapes, open skies and peaceful natural settings, there are archeological sites, museums and parks. Outdoor activities abound, among them fishing, golfing, horseback riding and camping.
There are also shopping, dining and nightlife opportunities to explore: Annual events and festivals celebrate everything from apples to Oktoberfest.
Orange County was officially established Nov. 1, 1683, when the Province of New York was divided into 12 counties. As originally defined, Orange County included only the southern part of its present-day territory, plus all of present-day Rockland County farther south. The northern part of the present-day county, beyond Moodna Creek, was then a part of neighboring Ulster County.
At that date, the only European inhabitants of the area were a handful of Dutch colonists in present-day Rockland County, and the area of modern Orange County was entirely occupied by the native Munsee people. Due to its relatively small population, the original Orange County was not fully independent and was administered by New York County.
The first European settlers in the area of the present-day county arrived in 1685. They were a party of around 25 families from Scotland, led by David Toshach, the Laird of Monzievaird, and his brother-in-law Maj. Patrick McGregor, a former officer of the French Army. They settled in the Hudson Highlands at the place where the Moodna Creek enters the Hudson River, now known as New Windsor. In 1709, a group of German Palatine refugees settled at Newburgh. They were Protestants from a part of Germany along the Rhine that had suffered during the religious wars. Queen Anne’s government arranged for passage from England of nearly 3,000 Palatines in 10 ships. Many were settled along the Hudson River in work camps on property belonging to Robert Livingston. A group of Dutch and English settlers arrived at Goshen in 1712.
In 1798, after the American Revolutionary War, the boundaries of Orange County changed. Its southern corner was used to create the new Rockland County, and in exchange, an area to the north of the Moodna Creek was added, which had previously been in Ulster County. This caused a reorganization of the local administration, as the original county seat had been fixed at Orangetown in 1703, but this was now in Rockland County. Duties were subsequently shared between Goshen, which had been the center of government for the northern part of Orange County, and Newburgh, which played a similar role in the area transferred from Ulster County. The county court was established in 1801. It was not until 1970 that Goshen was named as the sole county seat.
State of New York
Office of Emergency
The New York Office of Emergency Management plans for and responds to natural and man-made disasters. The office routinely assists local governments, voluntary organizations and private industry through a variety of emergency management programs including hazard identification, loss prevention, planning, training, operational response to emergencies, technical support and disaster recovery assistance. Visit the division’s website for winter weather safety tips and other preparedness information.
Emergency Management 845-615-0479
The Orange County Division of Emergency Management is responsible for planning and coordinating actions for disaster preparation, response and recovery. The division works with local governments, volunteer organizations and the private sector across Orange County to develop disaster preparedness plans and mitigation projects, and provide training and exercise activities. Visit the office’s website for the county’s disaster planning guide and other disaster preparedness information.
WEATHER AND CLIMATE
Orange County enjoys all four seasons, with a slightly higher than average annual rainfall and snowfall. In the county, the warmest month is July, with an average high of 83 degrees and an average low of 63 degrees. The coldest month is January, with an average high of 35 degrees and an average low of 18 degrees. Most precipitation falls in April and October, but it generally rains at least one day per month. The average yearly rainfall is about 50 inches, with an average of 30 inches of snowfall.
Every second counts in a disaster so planning and preparation can be lifesavers.
The New York Office of Emergency Management provides residents, communities, public safety professionals, businesses and schools with invaluable information and resources for dealing with calamities, from floods to fires, hurricanes, hazardous waste and terrorism, to name just a few. Visit https://prepare.ny.gov/be-prepared to learn how to put together an emergency kit and prepare a household emergency plan.
Another great resource for natural disaster and severe weather information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/disasters. Here you can find information on how to prepare for various weather emergencies.
The following are considered significant hazards in New York.
Extreme Heat and Sun Exposure
Some exposure to sunlight is good, even healthy, but too much can be dangerous. Broad-spectrum ultraviolet radiation, listed as a known carcinogen by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, can cause blistering sunburns as well as long-term problems like skin cancer, cataracts and immune system suppression. Overexposure also causes wrinkling and premature aging of the skin.
Cloud cover reduces UV levels but not completely. Depending on cloud cover thickness, you can still burn on a chilly, overcast day, so be prepared with sunglasses, sunscreen, long-sleeved garments, wide-brimmed hats and a parasol.
Because of the county’s high temperatures, it is important to take precautions to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Stay indoors when temperatures are extreme. Drink cool liquids often, particularly water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcoholic beverages as they dehydrate the body. Eat small, frequent meals and avoid foods high in protein, as they increase metabolic heat.
If you must venture outdoors, avoid going out during midday hours. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight. Avoid strenuous activities and keep hydrated. Cover all exposed skin with a high SPF sunscreen and follow general sun exposure precautions. Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale and clammy skin; a fast, weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; and fainting. If you experience symptoms of heat exhaustion, you should move to a cooler location. Lie down and loosen your clothing, then apply cool, wet cloths to your body. Sip water. If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention. You should seek out immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of heat stroke, such as a body temperature of more than 103 degrees; hot, red, dry or moist skin; a rapid and strong pulse; or unconsciousness. For heat safety tips, visit www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/heat.
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Even beyond coastal regions, flash floods, inland flooding and seasonal storms affect every region of the country, damaging homes and businesses. It is dangerous to underestimate the force and power of water.
During a flood watch or warning, gather your emergency supplies and stay tuned to local radio or TV stations for further weather information. If you are outdoors during a rainstorm, seek higher ground. Avoid walking through any floodwaters — even water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. If you are driving, avoid flooded areas. The majority of deaths in floods occur when people drive through flooded areas. Roads concealed by water may not be intact. Water only a foot deep can displace a vehicle. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water can engulf a vehicle and sweep it away.
For more on protecting yourself from flooding in New York, go to www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/flood and find safety tips, supply kit information, recovery options and additional tools.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including high winds, heavy rain, flooding and storm surges (high tidal waves). Visit www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/hurricane for preparedness tips and help in creating a hurricane emergency plan.
While more likely at certain times of the year, thunderstorms can happen anytime. A severe thunderstorm can knock out power; bring high winds, lightning, flash floods and hail; and spin into a twister in seconds. Pay attention to storm warnings. Remember the rule: “When thunder roars, head indoors.” The National Weather Service recommends following the 30/30 rule: People should seek shelter if the “flash-to-bang” delay — the length of time in seconds from the sight of the lightning flash to the arrival of its subsequent thunder — is 30 seconds or less, and remain under cover for 30 minutes after the final thunderclap.
For lightening safety tips and resources, visit the National Weather Service’s website at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.
The majority of wildfires are caused by humans. Causes include arson, recreational fires that get out of control, negligently discarded cigarettes and debris burning. Natural causes like lightning can also cause a wildfire.
If your home is in an area prone to wildfires, you can mitigate your risk. Have an evacuation plan and maintain a defensible area that is free of anything that will burn, such as wood piles, dried leaves, newspapers and other brush.
Even if your home is not in the vicinity of a wildfire, the smoke and ash produced by wildfires can create air quality issues for hundreds of miles. Pay attention to local air quality reports following a wildfire in your area.
Wildfires are unpredictable and impossible to forecast so preparation is especially important. Visit www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/wildfire.cfm for information on wildfire preparedness.
Prepare for winter storms by assembling a disaster supply kit for your home and vehicle. Have your car winterized before the winter storm season arrives. Listen to weather forecasts and plan ahead.
When winter storms and blizzards hit, dangers include strong winds, blinding snow and frigid wind chills. Avoid unnecessary travel during storm watches and warnings and stay indoors.
Winter storms can also cause power outages. During a power outage, gather in a central room with an alternative heat source. Use fireplaces, wood stoves and other heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside. Never use an electric generator or a gas or charcoal grill indoors. The fumes are deadly. If you use a space heater, keep the heater away from any object that may catch fire (drapes, furniture or bedding) and never leave it unattended. Avoid letting pipes freeze and rupture by leaving faucets slightly open so they drip continuously.
For more information on winter preparedness and winterizing your home and vehicles, visit www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/winter.