GMP already repairing Sandy damage Monday afternoon
Nearly 1,000 Green Mountain Power employees and contractors have moved from preparation to restoration as the remnants of Hurricane Sandy have begun to whip into Vermont, knocking down trees and power lines and threatening substantial damage as it moves northward.
As of 4 pm, outages affecting 4,500 GMP customers have already been restored, with 5,900 without service at this time. Forecasters say more heavy winds are still in the offing, and that number is expected to grow considerably tonight.
The power-packed storm, described by the Weather Channel as “the largest Atlantic hurricane of the past quarter-century” in terms of sheer size, is expected to wreak havoc across much of the Eastern Seaboard and Vermont before winding down on Tuesday.
“We expect things will get a lot worse before they get better,” GMP spokesman Jeremy Baker said. “We’ve been picking up lines and restoring service pretty quickly as damage occurs this afternoon, but we still face a serious, dangerous storm this evening and through the overnight hours. We expect a lot more outages to occur, but we will repair service as quickly as it is safe to do so.”
To prepare for the storm, GMP:
· Brought in more than 250 outside line workers and tree trimmers from as far away as Florida, Colorado and California. They arrived Sunday and Monday.
· Arranged for mobile kitchens to be available to feed workers in the hardest-hit areas as quickly and efficiently as possible.
· Enhanced outage reporting options including the mobile website m.greenmountainpower.com, and added a “Power Out” button on its Facebook page to allow customers to report outages from places with power.
· Topped off fuel tanks on hundreds of vehicles, generators and radio communication sites.
· Organized hundreds of employees, such as lawyers, accountants and other back-office personnel, into support roles.
“We’ve had several major storms, including Irene, over the last 10 years that have given us tremendous experience and insights into how to attack major storm damage,” Baker said. “On the plus side, each storm has provided lessons that help us get better and better at storm recovery.”
GMP continues to caution customers to use great care in the aftermath of the storm to ensure their safety and the safety of utility crews.
· Call 911 for any life-threatening emergencies.
· Treat any downed line as if it is live. Report the line to your local utility and fire department, stay at least 50 feet away from the line, and keep children and pets away as well.
· If using a generator, read and follow the owner’s manual before starting it. Never operate a generator inside any structure or near a structure. Use a transfer switch to ensure electricity is not accidentally fed onto a line where line crews must work.
· Keep freezers and refrigerators closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage.
· If power goes out, turn off all electrical appliances except one light so you’ll know when service returns. Then, turn equipment back on slowly.
· Never use grills inside garages, sheds or other buildings, as the fumes can be poisonous.