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For many in NH, power won't be on soon

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 31. 2011 10:30PM
PSNH lineman Jim Boisvert works to restore power from atop a bucket truck on Mooresville Road in Manchester on Monday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

CONCORD - Thousands of New Hampshire residents begin today without power as many schools remain closed for a second consecutive day and scores of roads are impassable.

(Click here for a list of closings and delays from

Sunshine and warm temperatures - today's high in Manchester is forecast at 47 degrees - will prove little consolation for those suffering through the Halloween weekend snowstorm. Public Service of New Hampshire on Monday identified two large areas where it expects power to be out for several days: areas south of Route 4 from Concord to the Seacoast, and the southern tier from Temple eastward.

For many, it will be days before power is restored, Public Utilities Commissioner Thomas Getz said. In some isolated cases, power restoration will take a week, he warned.

'We have lots of tree limbs down and a lot of lines down, and it's going to take time to bring them all up,' he said.

The record-breaking October snowstorm knocked out electric service to about 290,000 utility customers.

As of 11 p.m. Monday, PSNH was reporting 153,787 still without power, with the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative reporting 1,057, Unitil reporting 5,943 and National Grid reporting 3,131 still out.

Early Monday morning, power was restored to another 18,500, 15,733 of them PSNH customers. That left about 145,000 still without power.

In Nashua, a woman called firefighters to her center-city home after a carbon monoxide detector went off late Monday, Deputy Fire Chief Brian Rhodes said. Rhodes said a broken basement window funneled the exhaust from a gasoline-powered generator into the single-family home.

'Our meters went into alarm when our firefighters went into the home,' Rhodes said.

The mom and her three children were transported to Southern New Hampshire Regional Medical Center.

Listing of closings and delays from

Listing of rescheduled Trick-or-Treat times

Federal aid

Meanwhile, Gov. John Lynch on Monday applied for federal disaster assistance for New Hampshire, the third time this year.

Lynch filed an emergency declaration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency after meeting with key state officials who handle storm-related issues, such as power outages, roads and shelters.

He called the weekend storm 'historic' in proportion, and visited emergency shelters at Memorial High School in Manchester, Londonderry High School and Nashua North High School.

Lynch said this is the third-largest power outage in state history, exceeded by the ice storm of December 2008, and a wind storm that hit in February 2010.

Schools closed

The weekend storm forced hundreds of schools to close across the state Monday. Many remain closed today, including those in Manchester, Nashua, Bedford, Merrimack and Londonderry.

Manchester Superintendent Tom Brennan said five city schools were without power Monday evening. He was more concerned with students stumbling across debris and downed power lines while walking to school.

'I've very optimistic that by Wednesday everything will be cleared up to allow (school) to happen,' Brennan said.

Many communities postponed trick-or-treating, including Manchester, (click here for a list) which was to have only its second school-night trick-or-treat in decades.

'They are enjoying the additional time off,' said Manchester dad Mark Nakos about his two sons, one in high school, one in elementary school. 'They feel OK about trick or treat because they get to do it next week. (Sunday, Nov. 6.)'

Roads closed

The storm dropped heavy, wet snow onto the colorful leaves of maple and oak trees. Branches, and in some cases entire trees, succumbed under the weight, in many cases falling onto streets and roadways.

As of Monday afternoon, Bedford reported 27 roads closed, and nine with obstructions. In Manchester, nearly 40 roads or intersections were either partially or completely blocked, the Fire Department said.

The state reported three roads closed as of Monday evening.

'All the issues are trees and wires,' said Eric Scott, a specialist at the state Transportation Management Center. 'We have to wait for the (power) crews to take care of the lines before the trees are removed.'

Line crews from Canada, Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio and Pennsylvania have joined New Hampshire crews to get electricity flowing again.

Shelters open

Cold nights forced many to shelters; on Sunday night, 240 people sought shelter.

The second night of a sustained outage can be more of a threat to health than the first, said Richard C. Cricenti, head of emergency services for the Department of Health and Human Services.

'We don't want people to sit in the cold,' he said, noting there are nine shelters around the state that can handle up to 1,200 people. Anyone who is without power and feels they are getting too cold should contact local fire or police, or call 211, Cricenti said.

Those who head to shelters for an overnight stay should bring extra clothing, medications and hygiene items. Brennan said the Manchester shelter will remain at Memorial High School, even when the school reopens.

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