NEAL P. GOSWAMI
BENNINGTON -- Local officials and residents were fully prepared for the powerful winds forecast to arrive with Hurricane Sandy. By Monday evening, however, the strong wind and widespread power outages had largely failed to materialize.
As of the Banner's press time, earlier than normal because of the storm, wind gusts had felled some trees in the county and caused some sporadic power outages. Statewide, Green Mountain Power was reporting about 11,000 customers without power. In Bennington County, several issues caused outages for 174 customers in Bennington and 148 customers in Pownal.
A pine tree resting on power lines on Silk Road was
State officials were predicting the strongest wind could occur overnight, however. Bennington Police were urging residents to remain at home for the evening. There were no immediate plans to open an emergency shelter in Bennington.
For storm updates overnight, check the Banner's website, www.benningtonbanner.com, or the Banner Facebook page. All storm-related articles can be viewed without charge. (See a related article on school closings.)
Peter Coffey, deputy director of Vermont Emergency Management, said wind gusts in excess of 50 mph were recorded at the airport in Rutland. He said the worst of the wind may be contained to the north of Bennington. However, residents in this area should still heed all warnings and remain home until the storm passes, he said.
"That's the information. That's what we're told. I would plan on it. I don't think anyone can predict where this particular storm is going to go," Coffey said.
Red Cross shelters were being opened in nearby communities in Rutland, Wilmington and Winhall because of power outages.
The Bennington Rural Fire Department responded to trees down along Route 9 in Woodford that had fallen on power lines and caught fire.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin declared a state of emergency in Vermont on Sunday. That will allow for the use of National Guard troops and other federal resources if needed. Local officials said they were continuing to monitor the storm but no emergency orders were required.
The Vermont State Police had all troopers on duty or on standby on Monday, according to VSP Director Col. Tom L'Esperance. He said the agency's resources were staged around the state and were ready to be deployed where needed. A tactical rescue team from Colchester was being staged in Manchester to respond to any rescue efforts in southern Vermont.
Green Mountain Power also had outside crews staged in the area to help restore power as quickly as possible.