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Ice storm cuts off power to hundreds of thousands

Ice storm cuts off power to hundreds of thousands

Posted: Friday, December 12, 2008 9:47 pm

By The Associated Press An ice storm knocked out power to more than a half-million homes and businesses in New England and upstate New York, and authorities say it could take days for all of them to get service back. The governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire declared states of emergency this morning, and schools were closed and travel disrupted across the region. “I urge all New Hampshire citizens to take sensible precautions and heed all warnings from public officials,” New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch said. Fire departments in New Hampshire were responding to reports of transformer explosions, wires and utility poles down and trees falling on homes. Gov. Deval Patrick’s emergency declaration in Massachusetts would enable the governor to take further steps, such as mobilizing the National Guard, if needed as the day wore on, officials said. State officials do not even know the full extent of the problem because some towns have municipal utilities, said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. At least 20 Massachusetts towns declared local states of emergency even before the governor. “Stay home if you live in Holden, don’t come to Holden if you work here,” Holden, Mass., fire Chief Jack Chandler said. The entire town was without power and some senior citizens on oxygen were transported to a hospital or a shelter opened at the town’s senior center. Public Service Company of New Hampshire reported an unprecedented 230,000 customers — nearly half of the homes and businesses it serves — were without power as of 8 a.m. today. The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative said more than 41,000 of its homes and businesses also have no power. Utility officials in New Hampshire said the outages had far surpassed the infamous ice storm of 1998, when some residents spent more than a week in the dark. Around Albany, N.Y., National Grid reported more than 140,000 customers without power. Outages from other utilities brought the total in the state to more than 225,000. In Maine, two utilities reported a total of more than 35,000 outages, while in Vermont, Mark Bosma, a spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management, says more than 22,000 homes and businesses without power as of 6:30 a.m. Snow in central and northeastern Tennessee has some school systems closed and some roads slick. National Weather Service forecaster Mark Rose in Nashville said there were a couple of observation posts on the Cumberland Plateau that reported three inches of snow this morning, but one to two inches was more usual. The snow fell mostly in an area south and east of Nashville and across the plateau into East Tennessee. At the Weather Service station east of downtown Nashville, only 0.7 inches of snow fell. Rose said temperatures today would rise to above freezing. The school systems closed were mostly north of Knoxville, on the Cumberland Plateau and south and east of Nashville. Some mountain counties in northeast Tennessee also canceled classes. Published in The Messenger 12.12.08

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