Storm prep

Ben Ruhl, left, and Zach Sheehan, who work for a property management company in Manchester, put covers on buckets of sand they were picking up at Manchester Public Works on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, ahead of the predicted snow storm for Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.

Lisa Duval and her husband missed their honeymoon because they were busy restoring electricity to people in Connecticut years back.

“We didn’t see each other for about a week after we were married,” the Eversource supervisor said Friday.

Come Sunday, Duval and her husband, Kevin, an Eversource lineman, will be on duty again, ready to respond to outages caused by a major snowstorm that promises to blitz the state with more than a foot of snow Saturday evening through Sunday, followed by sub-zero wind chills.

Kevin’s parents help watch over their two huskies, plow the driveway and occasionally throw in a few loads of laundry when the Duvals are out working to get the lights back on for others.

“It’s a family effort when we have a storm,” said Duval, who lives in Goffstown.

More than 500 workers are ready to assist New Hampshire customers if needed, according to Eversource spokesman Kaitlyn Woods, though the expected fluffy snow lessens the odds of widespread outages.

Utility workers aren’t the only ones who will be working through the weekend storm.


Lineman Andrew Fournier wires a street light on Bedford Street in Manchester's Millyard on Jan. 17, 2019.

Elliot Hospital’s security team expects to use two Ford Explorers with four-wheel drive to pick up workers needing a ride during Sunday’s storm, according to Bill Davies, director of security for Elliot Health System.

The passengers can range from 10 to 30 essential employees, including doctors, nurses and food/nutrition staff.

“A lot of people don’t have vehicles that can handle the weather,” Davies said.

“At Elliot Hospital, we convert our conference center to a men’s side and a women’s side for overnight stays for our staff,” said spokesman Susanna Fier. “We supply them with cots, complete sets of linen, pillows, toiletries and towels.”

Caffeine will fuel many first responders, grocery store workers and plow truck drivers.

“Everyone needs their coffee,” said Jessica Bousquet, manager at the Dunkin’ Donuts along Route 101 at the Mobil station in Bedford. “We try to make the most of it.”

Dunkin’ typically gets busy in the hours leading up to a major storm, she said.

“We will get overworked, and we will have our rushes,” she said. “It is hard.”

Bousquet says she is sympathetic to her staff, especially those workers who are trying to fill 40 hours of work a week but might not want to head out in the snow, or others who traditionally walk to work.

“My heart breaks for them. I try to get other staff to pick them up,” she said. “I don’t want any accidents because someone is trying to get to work.”

In Nashua, there will be up to 100 public works employees battling the storm this weekend, said Lauren Byers, the department’s public relations administrator.

“These guys see the weather and they are out the door. They are used to the long hours,” Byers said. “They know what they need to do and exactly how long it will take them.”

Emergency responders will be on the job Sunday.

“We don’t have any control over the snow, so it is what it is and we deal with it,” said Bedford Fire Chief Scott Wiggin.

“Most people will be home and hunkered down, and that is the best place to be,” he said. Some firefighters probably will arrive early for shifts and bunk at the station to make sure they are ready for their duties, he said.

Dr. Joe Guarnaccia, medical director of Elliot’s emergency department, is volunteering to work Sunday.

“Typically what happens with a storm, it’s usually sort of real busy up until the storm” because people don’t want to be stranded at home with a serious health issue, he said.

“The peak during the storm is where it tends to slow down” and the ER staff gets “a little bit of a reprieve.”

As the storm moves out, the ER gets busy again. Patients come in with a variety of issues, ranging from fingers injured in snowblower accidents, chest pains after shoveling, and broken bones from falls.

Out on the power lines, Duval said wind makes things stressful for line crews working in bucket trucks near tree branches that can snap.

Staying warm is easier than one might think. “We keep our gloves on the heater in the cab of the truck,” Duval said. “Once you get out there and start working, you start shedding layers.”