Storm leaves thousands across state without power

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MANCHESTER — More than 70,000 homes and businesses throughout Vermont were left without power following heavy rain and wind gusts up to 80 mph between Sunday and Monday.

The town of Londonderry topped the list of outages with over 500 by Monday morning, according to Green Mountain Power, which estimates the approximately one-third of Vermonters were without power following the storm.

Across New England, the storm knocked out power for nearly 1.5 million homes and businesses and forced hundreds of schools to close.

The State Emergency Operations Center estimated that from Friday night through Monday afternoon, about 70,000 customers across the state were or remained without power, with utilities warning that some of the outages could last for several days. Those without shelter due to access issues or extended power outages are encouraged to call 2-1-1.

Maine 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.

At the Morse State Airport in Bennington, the average wind speed spiked to above 20 mph after midnight and reached a high average of 30 at about 3 a.m. Monday. The strongest gust of 47 mph was recorded at 2:40 a.m., according to data from the National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y.

Power outages were widespread across the local region. By Monday afternoon, 576 Green Mountain Power customers without power in Shaftsbury, 289 in Bennington, 286 in Sandgate, 245 in Arlington, 118 in Pownal, 104 in Dorset, 92 in Landgrove, 80 in Winhall, 72 in Manchester, 72 in Danby, 65 in Peru, 10 in Stratton, and 5 in Sunderland. By 5 p.m., 1,582 customers across Bennington County and 3,813 in Windham County were still affected. Those numbers dwindled into the evening hours.

"The state is working to provide resources to towns and our utility partners," Gov. Phil Scott said on Monday afternoon. "About a third of Vermont customers are without power right now and several roads are blocked by trees and debris. I encourage everyone to be safe and listen to state and local responders as we work to address damage and restore services throughout the state."

"Crews are ready and mobilized to make repairs as quickly and safely as possible this morning and we expect additional crews, which were on standby from Canada and elsewhere in the region to join the effort as well," said Kristin Carlson, VP of Strategic & External Affairs for Green Mountain Power. "We are asking the public for patience as we expect more wind later today and more outages as a result. Safety of our crews and the public is our top priority and conditions are extremely dangerous."

Repairs are slow-moving, according to GMP, due to a number of broken poles and wind gusts continuing throughout Monday. With nearly every region of the state impacted, the company estimated that repairs could take days — possibly weeks — to complete in some areas.

"We urge Vermonters to stay clear of downed trees, branches and power lines and report them by calling 911," Carlson said. "We'll keep the public and media informed as this storm progresses through regular press releases and updates on social media."

There were reports of downed trees and wires all over Bennington County, and Vermont State Police at the Shaftsbury barracks reported that damage they were seeing is consistent with what is being reported around the state.

"I've heard of one tree down on a house so far, but no injuries that I know of," said Londonderry's Emergency Management Director Kevin Beattie, who said that dispatch was "surprisingly quiet" overnight. "AT&T Cell phone is down, the internet is down in many places, and there are two class-two roads closed due to trees and power lines down — but no other significant damage that I'm aware of."

"There was one tree down in the roadway which I helped to move this morning, but other than that just the usual downed power lines," said Manchester Police Officer James D. Bossong. "Green Mountain Power has been made aware of those, but there hasn't been anything major in Manchester."

Several businesses reported damage to their property as well, including Harvest Brewing on South Street in Bennington, the roof of which sustained damage when it was struck by a falling tree. The sidewalk in front of the business was also damaged.

"At the moment we don't know the extent of the damage," said Harvest owner Sean Dunleavy. "We are hoping to have more information tomorrow [Tuesday]. At this time we expect to be open for normal business hours but we encourage people to check out our website, Harvestbrewing.org, or our Facebook page for more up to the minute information."

Reach Cherise Madigan at cmadigan@manchesterjournal.com, or by phone at 802-490-6471.

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