Nearly 200K still without power in Northeast as utility crews continue post-storm restorations

By Clarke Canfield, AP
Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nearly 200K without power after Northeast storm

PORTLAND, Maine — Nearly 200,000 homes and businesses were still without power Monday as restoration efforts continued days after a slow-moving storm battered the Northeast with heavy snow, rain and high winds.

More than 83,000 utility customers still lacked electricity early Monday in New Hampshire, the hardest-hit state. New York had about 87,000 outages, and Maine had about 16,000.

At the peak of the storm, more than a million utility customers throughout the region had lost power.

Hundreds of utility crews from as far away as Michigan and Maryland continued removing trees that knocked down power lines and replacing utility poles that snapped during last week’s storm.

Dozens of shelters provided warmth and food at fire departments, schools and other places.

Even after spending three nights at a shelter in New Paltz, N.Y., 28-year-old Keith Crum of Marlboro, N.Y., said he was understanding of the ongoing power outage. He recently moved back to the area from South Carolina, where he worked cutting trees away from power lines.

“They’re trying to do the best they can with the power,” he said. “You got to take into account there are a lot of lines down.”

Bryan Bush lost electricity Thursday, but he used a power generator he owns to turn the lights back on in his home in Kittery, Maine. Neighbors without that option have been stopping in for showers, warmth and cups of coffee.

But with three utility poles still down in front of his house and wires crossing his driveway, he wasn’t too confident about getting power back anytime soon.

“I wouldn’t expect much before the middle or the end of the week,” he said.

Deep snow in New York has made it hard for people to get around.

“A lot of people cannot honestly get out of their house and get to the shelters,” said John-Anthony Bruno, executive director of the Ulster County, N.Y., chapter of the American Red Cross.

“A lot of people are resourceful,” she added. “If their neighbor has power, they go down the street rather than shelter with us.”

In southern New York, the weather was linked to a death in Warwick, where a 60-year-old man was found dead after he went outside to shovel snow on Friday, said Walter Koury, the Orange County emergency services commissioner.

Governors in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts visited storm-struck areas Sunday to meet with emergency responders and view storm damage. Officials said it could be several days before power is fully restored in New Hampshire, while Maine’s largest utility hoped to restore power to all of its customers by the end of Monday.

In New Hampshire, Gov. John Lynch activated 50 National Guard members who went door-to-door in Allenstown on Sunday to check on residents without power.

“This continues to be a difficult situation for many New Hampshire families and I continue to urge people to put their safety first,” Lynch said.

The storm dumped more than 2 feet of snow in New York, dropped 8 inches of rain in southern Maine and brought wind gusts of up to 92 mph off the New Hampshire coast.

Another storm, this one from the east, was expected to bring more snow and rain into parts of New England on Sunday night into Monday.

Maine stood to get the brunt of the latest front with 3 to 6 inches of snow expected in much of the state, and lesser amounts in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, said Michael Cempa, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Gray, Maine.

Associated Press writers Cristian Salazar in New York City; Stephen Singer in Hartford, Conn.; and Glenn Adams in Augusta, Maine, contributed to this report.

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