Util­i­ties warn that power could be out for days in North­east

Imperial Valley Press - - OPINION -

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A se­vere storm pack­ing hur­ri­cane-force wind gusts and soak­ing rain swept through the North­east early Mon­day, knock­ing out power for nearly 1.5 mil­lion homes and busi­nesses and forc­ing hun­dreds of schools to close in New Eng­land.

Fall­ing trees knocked down power lines across the re­gion, and some util­ity com­pa­nies warned cus­tomers that power could be out for days. Trees also fell onto homes and ve­hi­cles, but no se­ri­ous in­juries were re­ported.

New Eng­land got the brunt of the storm, which brought sus­tained winds of up to 50 mph in spots.

A gust of 130 mph was re­ported at the Mount Wash­ing­ton Ob­ser­va­tory in New Hamp­shire, while winds hit 82 mph in Mash­pee on Cape Cod in Mas­sachusetts.

The storm left 450,000 New Hamp­shire res­i­dents with­out power at its peak and pro­duced wind gusts of 78 mph, emer­gency of­fi­cials said. Emer­gency Man­age­ment Di­rec­tor Perry Plum­mer said the out­age was the state’s fourth largest.

Maine also was hit hard, with 492,000 homes and busi­nesses los­ing elec­tric­ity, sur­pass­ing the peak num­ber from an in­fa­mous 1998 ice storm. The Port­land In­ter­na­tional Jet­port recorded a wind gust of 69 mph, and the Am­trak Downeaster ser­vice can­celed a morn­ing run due to down trees on the tracks.

Repub­li­can Maine Gov. Paul LePage is­sued a state of emer­gency procla­ma­tion, al­low­ing driv­ers of elec­tri­cal line re­pair ve­hi­cles to work more hours than fed­eral law al­lows to speed up power restora­tion.

In Freeport, Maine, Rachel Gra­ham, her hus­band and their 2-year-old daugh­ter, Priya, en­dured the storm in a yurt, where they are stay­ing while build­ing a house on their prop­erty. They lis­tened as 20 pine trees on their prop­erty snapped and wind lashed the yurt.

“It was re­ally ter­ri­fy­ing. You could feel ev­ery­thing and hear ev­ery­thing,” Gra­ham said. “It was a lot of crashes and bangs.”

The storm be­gan mak­ing its way up the East Coast on Sun­day, the fifth an­niver­sary of Su­per­storm Sandy. That 2012 storm dev­as­tated the na­tion’s most pop­u­lous ar­eas and was blamed for at least 182 deaths in the U.S. and the Caribbean and more than $71 bil­lion in dam­age in this coun­try alone.

Elec­tric­ity was slowly be­ing re­stored. As of late Mon­day af­ter­noon, more than 1.2 mil­lion peo­ple were still with­out power in the North­east, ac­cord­ing to a tally of out­ages from util­ity com­pa­nies in more than a half-dozen states.

In the Bos­ton sub­urb of Brook­line, He­lene Dun­lap said her power went out af­ter she heard a loud “ka­boom” around 1:30 a.m. Mon­day. She went out­side hours later to find a large tree had fallen on a neigh­bor­ing home.

“It re­ally shook the whole place up,” she said. “It was such a dark, stormy night that look­ing out the win­dow we re­ally couldn’t de­ter­mine what was go­ing on.”

A tree fell and sheared off the rear of a home in Methuen in north­east­ern Mas­sachusetts, along the New Hamp­shire line. The tree crashed into Philip Cole’s bed­room, where he would have been if he hadn’t been called into work Sun­day night.

“You opened the door to my bed­room, and there’s no bed­room,” Cole told WBZ-TV. “There’s no floor, there’s no any­thing re­ally, just a closet and that was it.”

In Glas­ton­bury, Con­necti­cut, downed trees and wires forced schools to close.

A mo­torist turns around af­ter find­ing downed trees block­ing Fly­ing Point Road dur­ing a storm in Freeport, Maine, on Mon­day. A strong wind storm has caused wide­spread power out­ages. AP PHOTO/ROBERT F. BUKATY

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