By Jo-Anne MacKenzie firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — The lights are, in large part, back on in Southern New Hampshire.
Public Service of New Hampshire, the largest utility in the area, had the most work to do yesterday, but made good progress, bolstered by crews from as far away as Oklahoma, Texas and Quebec.
That’s of little comfort to the remaining customers still waiting to power up, a fact acknowledged by a utility executive yesterday.
“Overall, Hurricane Sandy delivered more damage to our system than Irene did a year ago, but we are on track to restore power faster,” PSNH president Gary Long in a prepared statement. “Additional crews, from Hydro Quebec and our Southern states, have provided a huge boost and have allowed us to make significant progress. We know it’s frustrating for those last few customers, but we want them to understand that our crews are working around the clock to restore power to everyone.”
At 4 p.m. yesterday, PSNH had about 2,500 customers still without power, most in Derry, Londonderry and Windham. Progress was slow in those areas, PSNH officials said, because the repairs were labor intensive. But the hope was to have power back on for nearly everyone by midnight.
New Hampshire Electric Co-op, which serves some parts of Derry, Danville, Londonderry, Sandown, Kingston and Chester, had some big problems in that area. That cluster is where most of that utility’s outages occurred. It serves 115 New Hampshire towns.
But, even there, NHEC officials expected to have power restored to nearly everyone by 10 p.m. yesterday, with some individual exceptions.
NHEC reported trees or limbs on wires in more than 300 separate spots after Sandy blew through. Its crews received help from Vermont and Illinois crews.
Unitil crews packed up and headed elsewhere yesterday, after fully restoring power before midnight Wednesday. The company sent electric crews to help out in Rhode Island and natural gas workers to New Jersey.
Even after the power is restored, residents have plenty left to do — roofs to repair, trees and branches to clean up, cars to be fixed or replaced.
Christopher Pope, the director of the state’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management, warned residents to be aware of scammers who may target storm victims.
He urged people to ask for photo identification from anyone purporting to be from a state or federal agency, or even an insurance company.
Pope also cautioned residents to get written estimates for any work and to check that the contractor is licensed to work in the state and carries liability insurance. He added that residents who want to help Hurricane Sandy victims elsewhere should donate through established agencies.
Members from one of those agencies, the American Red Cross New Hampshire, sent two teams of volunteers to help out in New Jersey. To donate to the Red Cross relief efforts, text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or mail a check to American Red Cross, P.O. Box 2528, Concord, 03302.