Area Firms Rush South

— Whether it is through setting up donation lines or deploying utility crews and volunteers, New Hampshire and Vermont companies and organizations have already started assisting Superstorm Sandy victims in states to the south.

Yesterday, Green Mountain Power deployed two crews to Waterford, Conn., to help restore power to residents. The convoys deployed from Brattleboro and Rutland and consisted of 70 line workers equipped with cherry-picker trucks and other heavy equipment, said Green Mountain Spokesman Jeremy Baker.

“It is really our desire to assist any other utility companies in neighboring states and it is something that we have done since we became a company,” Baker said.

Unitil, a which provides electricity and natural gas to portions of New Hampshire, sent five electric crews to Rhode Island to aid in restoration and sent 12 natural gas workers to New Jersey to help with repairs.

Public Service of New Hampshire, New Hampshire’s largest service provider, also has plans to send crews south. Utility spokesperson Mark Skelton said, however, the company must finish restoring power to the remaining 5,000 customers “here at home” before deploying.

“We are very close to wrapping up,” Skelton said. “And as that winds down, we will be helping out our neighbors for sure.” Crews expect power to be fully restored in New Hampshire by today and Baker, of Green Mountain Power, Vermont’s largest service provider, expected all lights to be on by midnight last night.

Vermont & New Hampshire Valley Red Cross sent two additional volunteers to White Plains, N.Y. yesterday to join the eight other volunteers who left Wednesday to work at Red Cross staging areas.

Local Red Cross chapter Communications Director Doug Bishop said the volunteers are part of a coastal-wide effort to assist more than 7,000 people utilizing the 115 Red Cross shelters open along the East Coast.

Bishop said in addition to sending volunteers, the Red Cross set up donation lines to help workers stock supply shelves and dispatched vehicles with products to further assist Hurricane Sandy victims.

“We are encouraging financial donations. The need is extraordinary,” Bishop said.

The Upper Valley Region Granite United Way also established a “United Way Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund,” which sends 100 percent of donations directly to those impacted by the storm, according to its website.

Granite United Way Interim Vice President Suzanne Stofflet said helping individuals get through tough times is “what we do.” “I think it’s just something that United Way prides itself on doing and that is to mobilize caring in the community,” Stofflet said. “The United Way wants to help and we have a swift way to make that happen.” WFRD-FM, of Hanover, also coordinated efforts to assist victims in southern states who were affected by the storm. In conjunction with Blood’s Catering and Party Rentals and TomTom, radio station employees will man an 18-foot box-truck in the Walmart parking lot in Lebanon today from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and invite locals to donate supplies.

Morning Show Host and Account Executive Chris Garrett said non-perishable food items, water, pet food, baby formula and laundry supplies are a few of the items accepted. The truck will remain in the lot until it’s filled and then will be driven to New Jersey.

Garrett said there are two main reasons why he’s heading this project.

“There are just so many images that are coming in that show these people need help. The power is out, they have lost everything and even their houses are gone,” he said. “The other reason is because I am from there.

I was born and raised in New Jersey and spent every summer in Seaside Heights.” Those interested in making donations to the Red Cross Hurricane Sandy relief fund can do so by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999 or by visiting www.redcross.org. Individuals interested in donating to the United Way’s fund are encouraged to donate directly at www.uwsandyrecovery.org or by visiting the local chapter’s website at www.graniteuw.org www.graniteuw.org.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@gmail.com.