Sandy unloads on Vermont, causing thousands of power outages
The remnants of Hurricane Sandy unleashed high winds across parts of Vermont Monday evening, knocking out power to more than 22,500 Green Mountain Power customers. More than half have already been restored.
More outages are expected to occur throughout the night and into Tuesday before the storm slowly begins to pull away. A High Wind Warning issued by the National Weather Service remains in effect until 11 a.m. Tuesday.
“We’ve been making great progress in restoring service so far, but we’ll undoubtedly take many more hits before the worst of the storm is over,” GMP spokesman Jeremy Baker said. “We’ve already measured winds at our Searsburg wind site at over 70 miles an hour.”
As of 8 p.m., crews have restored service to 11,864 customers; 10,595 customers remain without service. Problems were sporadic throughout the day, before winds picked up early in the evening, especially along the slopes of the Green Mountains.
“The storm took longer to arrive than expected, but the winds in some areas are causing significant problems, as forecast,” Baker said. “We have extensive damage in many areas, including broken poles, downed lines and tree damage.”
Some of the worst damage was in Bennington, Rutland, Washington, Windham and Windsor counties, which together accounted for nearly 90 percent of the outages so far. Scattered outages were reported in other areas.
Forecasters say gusty winds are expected to continue through the night, and will remain blustery through Tuesday.
“One of our guys in Wallingford said every 10 or 15 minutes you’ll get a gust that will pull the helmet right off your head,” GMP Emergency Response Director Scott Massie said. “He said you can hear it coming.”
Nearly 1,000 Green Mountain Power employees and contractors are working on the restoration effort, including crews who came from as far away as California, Florida and Mississippi.
To prepare for the storm, GMP:
· Call 911 for any life-threatening emergencies.
· Brought in more than 250 outside line workers and tree trimmers from as far away as Florida. 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, adding a “Power Out” button on its Facebook page to allow customers to report outages from smart phones or 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.
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. Tips include:
· 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.
Customers may report outages by calling 1-888-835-4672, visiting GMP’s Outage Center page atwww.greenmountainpower.com or by clicking the “Power Out?” button on GMP’s mobile site,m.greenmountainpower.com.