EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 24, 2013

City outage victimsoutraged

Complain about company's response to calls

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — When power went out in the Riverside neighborhood on Tuesday night, some residents walked the streets in hopes of finding the cause of the problem.

They searched and searched, even after being told what street the problem was on, yet they could not find a thing.

It left them frustrated and confused.

Yesterday, National Grid’s online power outage map for Haverhill was clear of any trouble.

But that wasn’t the case the night before.

Riverside neighbors said they were angry because they could get no reasonable explanation from National Grid after the power went out. They said it took nearly seven hours for their electricity to be restored and they can’t understand why it took so long.

“I spoke with all my neighbors and no one knew what was going on,” said Greenville Street resident Janet Veilleux. “What if this was a winter storm? Would we be days without power?’’

According to National Grid’s online outage map, power to the Water Street, Groveland Street and Lincoln Avenue section of the city went dead Tuesday at 4:46 p.m.

Yesterday, National Grid spokesman Jake Navarro said the failure affected 134 homes and businesses in that part of the city.

He said a work crew was dispatched to replace a failed transformer mounted to a utility pole on Lincoln Avenue. He said the power was restored shortly before midnight.

The problem and didn’t seem as straightforward to Veilleux, while her home and those of her neighbors were left in darkness. She said the several calls she placed to National Grid just added to the confusion.

“The first time I called, I was told there was an accident reported on Haverhill Street,” she said. “My daughter went for a walk there and told me she didn’t see a thing. No work trucks, no cars, nothing.”

Veilleux called National Grid again and said she was told the power would be restored by 10 p.m. She called again some time later and this time she was told the problem was on Lincoln Avenue, she said.

“It was a little unnerving not to get answers,” Veilleux said.

She called yet again and said she was told the power would be restored by midnight.

Veilleux, 67, along with her daughter who lives nearby and one of Veilleux’s neighbors decided to take a walk on Lincoln Avenue in hopes of finding out what was going on.

“We went up and down the street, but could not find any trees down or anything,” she said.

Her adult grandson, who has special needs, was so upset at being in the dark that Veilleux walked him next door to a neighbor’s home so he could play with their dogs.

“It made him feel a lot better,” she said. “It can be unnerving to him when things go awry.

“This was really a mystery,” she said.

Navarro said the transformer that failed was a particularly large and heavy one that took additional time to replace and required more workers than usual. He said the transformer was replaced in a reasonable amount of time.

“We want to remind folks that a transformer is a big and heavy piece of equipment and we want to make sure we are replacing those safely, keeping our employee safety and customer safety our highest priority,” he said.