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GMP Warning Some Outages May Last Until the Weekend

  • Royalton Police Chief Loretta Stalnaker, left, Colby Marks, 17, of East Randolph, middle, and Vermont Agency of Transportation plow driver Dan Michaud, right, throw limbs off the roadway as Ryan Slack, of VTrans, back, cuts the trunk of a tree that fell across Route 14 in Royalton, Vt., Tuesday morning, Nov. 27, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Workers from Holland Quebec Inc. of Sherbrooke, Quebec, fix a power line taken down by a poplar tree next to Route 106 in Woodstock, Vt., on Wednesday, Nov.28,2018.(Valley News - Rick Russell) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lynn Murrell of South Woodstock,Vt., clears snow from his car before heading towards Woodstock Village after getting his mail at the South Woodstock Country Store in South Woodstock on Wednesday, Nov.28,2018. Although the store was closed due to a power outage the post office still had mail available. "This would really cut down on the aerodynamics," he said as he cleared off his car.(Valley News - Rick Russell) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Woodstock — Green Mountain Power crews are continuing efforts to restore power to thousands of homes and businesses across Vermont, but the utility now is warning that some customers may not regain electricity until the weekend.

More than 15,800 customers still were without power late Wednesday evening, according to the utility. GMP said most will have power restored by Friday night, “but some outages in the hardest-hit areas of Vermont may last into Saturday, or in some cases Sunday,” the utility said in a news release on Wednesday evening. The state, working with the American Red Cross, was opening emergency shelters, including at Hartford High School.

GMP crews, aided by outside contractors, have restored power to about 80,000 customers since heavy, wet snow hit the Twin States late Monday.

More than 2,200 new outages were reported by GMP over Tuesday night as snow and freezing temperatures continued.

“The damage is widespread; the conditions are still hazardous; we are still getting new outages,” GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said. “We want our customers to know we are working hard, but given the severe damage over hundreds of miles, getting the job done could take days.”

Power in parts of Woodstock Village was restored on Tuesday, but other parts of town continue to be out. Many remained without power on Wednesday afternoon along Route 106 between Woodstock and South Woodstock as work crews — including several from Holland Quebec Inc., which traveled from Sherbrooke, Quebec, to assist GMP in Woodstock — scrambled to remove downed tree limbs, many of them strewn across wires.

Both the Woodstock Athletic Club and South Woodstock General Store were closed as a result of the outages, and many residents were coping with the loss of heat and water. As of late Wednesday night, more than 975 customers in Woodstock were still without electricity.

During lunchtime on Wednesday, Tim Gould ate a takeout burrito outside his Route 106 home while watching a Holland Quebec team finish cleaning up damage after a large poplar tree fell across the street from his house.

“I imagine that’s what caused my outage,” Gould said. “I stayed at a friend’s last night. We’ll have to see about tonight.”

In South Woodstock, farmer Tina Tuckerman and retired veterinarian Lynn Murrell talked outside the building that houses the Country Store and post office. Both patrons said they were able to access their mailboxes in the dark.

Tuckerman was making the best of her available resources at the homestead.

“We have a generator, but we have it going in the barn right now,” Tuckerman said. “That means the house is cold.”

Murrell, meanwhile, said he was heating his house with a woodstove, as was South Woodstock resident Ellen Lefever.

“I slept in front of mine last night,” Lefever said.

Massage therapist Joe DiNatale, whose home is on Linden Hill, parallel to Route 106 near the village, wasn’t as fortunate. For 30 years, he maintained a woodstove at home, he said, but had it removed in favor of an electrically fired pellet stove before this year.

“Up until yesterday, I thought it was the best thing I ever did,” DiNatale said while relaxing inside Mon Vert Cafe downtown. “Now I’m seriously considering getting a battery backup.”

DiNatale, who said he’d stayed at his daughter’s home in West Woodstock on Tuesday night, planned to stay at another relative’s on Wednesday. GMP has informed DiNatale he may be without power until Saturday, he said.

“I feel like I’m homeless,” DiNatale said. “I want to cook food, sleep in my bed and take a shower, but I can’t.”

Meanwhile, 608 GMP customers in Barnard — 67 percent in that town — were without power as of late Wednesday night.

To help residents in need cope with the cold, Woodstock planned to open its recreation center as a warming facility at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, emergency services personnel said. And the New Hampshire/Vermont region of the American Red Cross planned to open emergency shelters at Hartford High School and Barre (Vt.) Auditorium at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Green Mountain Power still was reporting 419 outages in Hartland late Wednesday night, along with 12 in Hartford and two in Norwich.

Meanwhile, the Central Vermont-based Washington Electric Co-op still had nearly 3,200 outages, including 59 in Corinth and 24 in Vershire lat Wednesday night.

Pomfret officials had prepared to open a warming shelter on Tuesday night, but nobody showed up. Instead, at least three residents stayed at area motels, according to Pomfret-Teago Fire Department Chief Kevin Rice.

The town still had about 275 reported outages, affecting more than 30 percent of the population, late Wednesday night. Earlier in the day, Rice said snow on the top of Wild Apple Road was up to his knees.

“It’s pretty rough up high,” he said, adding that it was difficult to know, with power and phone lines down, whether at-risk residents needed help.

“The tough thing is it’s hard to get communication,” he said. “I made a few trips around town to check on folks. Everyone seemed to be OK.”

In New Hampshire, some 70 energy customers in Grafton served by Eversource were without power on Wednesday morning, and 344 in Grantham, though those were reduced to zero by Wednesday night, according to the company. At midafternoon on Wednesday, Eversource tweeted that it expected power “restoration to be substantially completed” by the evening. New London was the only Upper Valley community listed as still having outages late Wednesday night, with fewer than five Eversource customers affected.

New Hampshire Electric Co-op was reporting more than 2,500 customers still without power late Wednesday afternoon, including 278 in Grafton.

Robin Parker, the owner of Canaan Hardware and Supply, said customers were coming in asking for generator plugs, heaters and pole saws to deal with outages and snow-covered trees.

“Grafton is really getting hit over there, but here we are in good shape,” Parker said shortly before noon. “Mostly people are coming for saws to take care of limbs hanging over the wires.”

Grantham Town Administrator Melissa White told residents by email that Eversource had sent 16 additional crews in Grantham to help with the power restoration efforts.

“The tree damage to their lines is extensive, especially to the main line,” she said early in the day.

White said residents who were concerned about a family member or neighbor could call the Newport dispatch nonemergency number at 603-863-3232 and ask to have Grantham police check on them. She also said the Eastman Community Association has made showers available at the South Cove Activity Center and the Center at Eastman for all Grantham residents affected by the outage.

John P. Gregg contributed to this report. Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.