Thousands still without electricity

Second winter storm in a week pounds New England and many still do not have power.

BY BOND BRUNGARD | KERHONKSON, NY | December 13, 2008


Another major winter storm pounded New England this weekend adding insult to injury for thousands of residents who have not had power since an ice storm brought down electric lines more than a week ago.

Shelters remained open for many, struggling to keep warm.

Last week's storm caused millions of dollars of damages to power grids, homes and businesses from Pennsylvania to Maine and left more than a million people in the New England and Mid-Atlantic states without power as ice accumulated on trees and streams and rivers rose from the heavy rain.

New Hampshire and Massachusetts were particularly hard-hit. "It's as bad as we've seen at least over the last 10 years," said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

In New Hampshire, where nearly half of the population was without power, the storm is being called historic. "What we're seeing is unprecedented in terms of New Hampshire storms," said Martin Murray, a spokesman for Public Service of New Hampshire. "We've never had any power outages approaching this."

John Maserjian, a spokesman for Poughkeepsie-based Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, said crews were out early Thursday evening and expected to be working through the weekend to help restore power to about 45,000 people in the New York counties of Dutchess and Ulster.

Maserjian said the outages were caused by ice-covered trees that snapped and brought down the power lines.

Daily temperatures reached into the low 40s Friday, but were expected to dip into the teens Friday evening and rise only in to the mid-20s Saturday.

About 600 families were without power in the Kerkonkson area, which sits in a valley between the Catskills and Shawangunk ridgline, a sliver of Appalachian Mountains which runs between the Hudson and Delaware valleys.

Morache said the needs could be greater than originally expected as people return home from work and try to endure a very cold winter night.

More than 270,000 were without power Friday night in Massachusetts. Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency and National Guard troops were called to duty to clear roads and help with the recovery effort after 50 mph hour winds battered the Cape Cod and other coastal areas of the Bay State. Hundreds of roads were closed across the state.

Estimating recovery costs would exceed $7 million, Deval joined New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch in seeking a Federal disaster declaration which President George Bush approved Sunday.

"Nobody expected that the impact of this storm to be quite so devastating," Konstantina Lukes, the Mayor in Worcester, MA, told the Boston Globe. "Trees are falling on cars, they are falling on houses, and they are trapping people in their homes."


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