By Bill Kirk firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — Although it remains a living nightmare for people in coastal New York and New Jersey, Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy is now just a bad memory for most Merrimack Valley and Massachusetts residents.
With power expected to have been restored by midnight last night to most of the state and the region, life can go back to normal.
“We’re in good shape,” Methuen Public Works Director Ray DiFiore said yesterday afternoon. He noted that all the downed trees were removed from roadways and National Grid had repaired the downed wires.
Now, he said, it appears that power may be out to individual customers around the city that had wires pulled off the sides of their homes. In those cases, people will have to call an electrician to have the house reconnected.
National Grid Massachusetts President Marcy Reed said yesterday just before noon that power would be restored to everyone in the state by midnight last night.
“National Grid crews, assisted by other crews from 31 states and Canada, have worked around the clock since daybreak on Tuesday repairing and replacing damaged equipment,” she said. “As of 11 a.m. (yesterday), more than 228,000 customers have been restored, down from a peak of more than 237,000 at 11 p.m. on Monday.”
As of 11 a.m. yesterday, there were just 8,400 customers still without power, around 1,000 of those in the Merrimack Valley.
Initially, the company had expected to have the restoration completed by later today, but as work progressed, company officials adjust their estimates.
Reed noted there may be some isolated pockets where restoration will take longer because damage is extremely severe or customers need to make repairs to their property before service can be restored, but that otherwise, power should be back for everyone.
About 5,700 National Grid customers in Haverhill lost power during Monday’s storm. That number has been dwindling each day and as of 4:30 p.m. yesterday, power had been restored to all but 320 customers in Haverhill.
“National Grid said they are hopeful that everyone will be back online by tonight,” Mayor James Fiorentini said yesterday.
Haverhill has extended free branch drop off hours at the Highway Department yard for residents from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The original hours called for the yard to close at 1 p.m.
North Andover Public Works Director Bruce Thibodeau said things have gone well in town. Local crews have removed all the hazardous trees from roadways and National Grid has cleaned up all the downed wires.
“Now, we’re just doing things left alongside of the road,” he said. “There were a couple of trees we had to take down that were uprooted.” And he said Verizon is still working in a couple of places in town where wires were taken down.
Reed said there remains room for improvement.
“Every storm offers an opportunity for us to do better,” she said. “While we do believe we improved our performance since last fall’s storms, we will continue to work in partnership with our communities to further enhance our preparedness, restoration and communications processes so that we can better serve our customers.”
Reed urged anyone still without power to call National Grid at 1-800-465-1212.
“This will help National Grid identify any individual homes and businesses without service,” she said.