---- — Winds from Hurricane Sandy are gaining strength in Southern New Hampshire, knocking out power in many communities.
Utilities serving the area report major outages in Derry, Hampstead, Plaistow and Atkinson. An increasing number of trees and electrical wires down has been reported since 2 p.m.
Public Service of New Hampshire is reporting 17,772 customers around the state without power, including 698 in Hampstead, 359 in Derry, 77 in Londonderry, 73 in Sandown, 54 in Pelham, and one in Atkinson.
Unitil reported 19,324 outages, including 1,462 in Plaistow, 1,105 Atkinson 640 in Danville, and scattered outages in Hampstead and Derry.
New Hampshire Electric Cooperative reported 8,647 outages across the state, including 277 in Sandown. National Grid reported outages in the Pelham area.
There have been no reports of accidents being caused by the storm. Earlier in the day, Gov. John Lynch declared a state of emergency.
He urged people to avoid unnecessary travel after 3 p.m. Nonessential state employees are being sent home this afternoon. Lynch asked the National Guard to put 100 soldiers on active duty, plus another 100 on standby.