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Outages Continue For 1,000s

David Prichard of Barnet, Vt. relaxes on the steps of Wilson Hall in Hanover, N.H. Thursday, September 12, 2013 surrounded by debris from an elm tree that fell against the building in a gust of wind Wednesday night. Prichard was waiting for pick up his girlfriend who was to arrive in Hanover by bus Thursday evening. 
Valley News - James M. Patterson
jpatterson@vnews.com
photo@vnews.com

David Prichard of Barnet, Vt. relaxes on the steps of Wilson Hall in Hanover, N.H. Thursday, September 12, 2013 surrounded by debris from an elm tree that fell against the building in a gust of wind Wednesday night. Prichard was waiting for pick up his girlfriend who was to arrive in Hanover by bus Thursday evening. Valley News - James M. Patterson jpatterson@vnews.com photo@vnews.com

Windsor — More than 6,000 Green Mountain Power customers across Vermont remained without service Thursday evening, according to the utility, which said customers in hard-hit areas such as Randolph, Windsor, Royalton, Sharon and Bethel could be without electricity through today.

“We are seeing hundreds of separate incidents with trees on lines and broken poles,” said GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure. “Each of these events needs a line crew and a tree crew, and can take anywhere from 30 minutes to make repairs to half a day or more if the damage is extensive.”

Two lines of thunderstorms, one which passed through Thursday evening, and other that moved through the area around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, knocked out power for about 42,000 Green Mountain Power customers, the utility said in a news release.

As of last evening, residents in Bradford, Bethel, Barnard, Bridgewater, Fairlee, Grafton, Hartford, Hartland, Norwich, Pomfret, Randolph, Royalton, Sharon, Strafford, Thetford, Tunbridge, Weathersfield, Windsor, West Windsor and Woodstock were still without power.

Windsor was perhaps the hardest hit in the Upper Valley, with nearly 600 customers waiting for service to be restored last night.

Most residents in New Hampshire woke up to power Thursday morning, according to utility reports. Liberty Utilities reported a handful of outages in the morning, and those were all fixed by Thursday afternoon.

Dozens of residents once again lost power Thursday evening when another storm rolled through the Upper Valley. Liberty Utilities reported 50 outages Thursday evening, with 23 of them in the Enfield and Canaan area.

The New Hampshire Electric Co-op reported more than 500 outages as of Thursday morning, including a cluster in the Lebanon area, but those too were cleared by Thursday afternoon.

After Thursday evening’s storm, the utility was reporting 620 outages statewide, with outages clustered in Charlestown, Claremont, Cornish, Newport, Unity and then farther north, in Piermont.

As of 8 p.m. last night, Lebanon had received .89 of an inch of rain within the previous 24 hours, according to the National Weather Service.

Perhaps the one who had the most difficult evening, though, was the girl in Lebanon holding the umbrella — an ornamental statue atop one of the city’s oldest fountains — which was toppled by winds overnight on Wednesday. On Thursday afternoon, the auburn-colored Carter Home Fountain continued bubbling on its small triangular traffic island near Colburn Park, sans the ornament.

Director of Public Works Mike Lavalla said in an email that there was only minor damage of “nicks and scrapes” to the ornament.

“This portion is normally removed from the fountain in early October every year when the fountains are winterized, so it will probably not be placed again this year,” he said. “We also need to strengthen the connection point to minimize the chance of this happening again in the future.”

City historian Carl Porter said the fountain’s placement, which took place in the 1890s, is probably the oldest of the city’s remaining fountains. However, parts of the fountain are not original, including the statue of the little girl holding the umbrella, which replaced one of a little girl holding onto a lamppost.

Elsewhere in the city, Lavalla said there were 15 downed trees across and adjacent to roadways Wednesday night.

Windsor suffered significant damage throughout town Wednesday night, including on Mt. Ascutney, where damage to a fuse in Vermont Public Radio’s audio processor knocked out the station’s signal to go out from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 11:45 a.m. Thursday, according to information provided by the station.

The damage to the processor, a computer system in a small building on the mountaintop, at the base of the tower, needed on-site repair work, said Victoria St. John, VPR’s director of operations.

Elsewhere in the town on Wednesday night, downed trees impeded traffic on parts of Route 44 and forced officials to divert it down a detour at one point, said Windsor Fire Chief Mark Kirko. Hunt Road was also temporarily closed.

“There was more wind than water (during the storm), that’s what created the problems for us in that regard,” Kirko said.

Kirko said he was preparing for a possible round two on Thursday night — getting the saws sharpened and refueled, he said — as forecasters predicted another severe storm could roll through the region. He warned residents to use caution operating generators and to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide.

Dartmouth employees were working Thursday to remove a large tree that fell near the Hopkins Center for the Arts and hit nearby Wilson Hall. No one was injured from the fall.

The mighty tree fell a little after 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson said, and visible scratch marks from tree limbs could be seen on the brick exterior of the building, and a few third floor windows were broken. By Thursday evening, crews had left the scene and removed much of the top portion of the tree, and two pieces of machinery sat still on the property.

But what remained — a thick trunk and large roots — were enough to catch the attention of passers-by. “Holy cow,” said one man who was holding a black umbrella as he walked past. A student in a green coat stopped in front of yellow tape that was blocking the sidewalk to take a photo with her phone.

The tree’s roots upheaved a small portion of the sidewalk that runs between Wilson Hall and the Hopkins Center. A pile of leaves and tree limbs sat by the building’s entry steps, and black metal that was once a railing had been tossed aside onto a flower bed. A stack of black shingles from the building’s roof sat next to the tree’s roots. And the round light on top of a nearby light pole had been smashed.

In Tunbridge, officials at the Tunbridge World’s Fair said the fairgrounds lost power around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, but it was restored Thursday morning before any fairgoers arrived, allowing the opening day to go off without a hitch.

Staff writer Sarah Brubeck contributed to this report. Maggie Cassidy can be reached at mcassidy@vnews.com or 603-727-3220.