by Bethany M. Dunbar
copyright the Chronicle 12-23-2013
An ice storm has knocked out power in northern Vermont and beyond. Monday morning David Hallquist of Vermont Electric Cooperative said the storm is unprecedented in the amount of damage it’s done because it’s so widespread geographically. About two-thirds of the cooperative’s coverage area lost power.
Mr. Hallquist said crews are working hard to restore power to everyone.
“We’ve got all the king’s horses and all the king’s men trying to put Humpty Dumpty together again,” he said.
The Barton Village Electric Department was also struggling Monday to get around to all its territory. Village Clerk Lucie Gaboriault said there was still a lot to get to.
“Westmore may not see anything until after Christmas,” she said. Brownington lines probably won’t get repaired until Tuesday, December 24.
Emergency shelters have been set up by the American Red Cross at the Barton Memorial Building, North Country Union High School in Newport and at the Enosburg High School. Those who need shelter can call 211 for more information.
Mr. Hallquist was in Newport at the time of the telephone interview, and he said he’s noticed dozens of homes that have service wires down — the lines between the power box and the individual homes, which are the responsibility of the individual homeowner to repair.
“We’re trying to line up an electrician’s list,” he said. Homeowners might be discouraged to realize the power comes back to the neighborhood only to realize the line to their homes are still down. The Christmas holiday might make it difficult to find an electrician, he said.
As of Monday morning, VEC still had 9,000 customers out of power. Power had been restored to 12,000.
Mr. Hallquist said they normally have 50 people working on lines, and Monday they have 400. There are 24 extra bucket trucks just in Newport.
He said crews from Green Mountain Power and from Connecticut are helping.
Making matters worse in some particular areas is the fact the temperature is still hovering in the mid 20s causing more freezing rain.
“The freezing rain doesn’t stop,” he said. “The temperatures haven’t budged for days.”
“We’re trying to get everybody we can restored by Christmas Eve,” he said. He added this kind of thing just goes to show “Nature can overwhelm the best of science.”
For up-to-date information about efforts to restore power in the VEC service area, check the co-op’s website: http://www.vermontelectric.coop/outage. The co-op is also posting updates on its facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/VERMONTELECTRICCOOP
Editor’s note: the Chronicle is on a holiday break. The paper comes out today, December 23. There will be no paper next week. The office is closed December 24 through January 1. If you have ice storm photos you would like to share, please e-mail them to us at [email protected].