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    Power May Take a Week to Restore in the Northeast

    By By Heather Buchman, Meteorologist
    November 04, 2011, 10:25:59 AM EDT


    The historic October snowstorm that clobbered the Northeast with tree-snapping snow over the weekend left more than 3 million people without power. For many of these residents, it could take a week or longer until power is restored.

    Residents without electricity will have to tough out colder-than-normal weather another day or two before temperatures take a slight rebound around midweek. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut were some of the hardest-hit states.

    Connecticut "This is the most historic outage we've ever experienced in Connecticut," stated Katie Blint, spokesperson for Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P). "We're asking customers to prepare for up to a week without power and possibly longer in some areas."

    As of Tuesday afternoon, approximately 656,000 CL&P customers were still without power. Blint said CL&P has more than 500 crews working on restorations and requested assistance from more than 1,000 crews from as far away as California and British Columbia.

    "We're flying some of those crews in," Blint added. "We certainly understand how difficult this is for our customers. Many of our own employees are without power. We are working to restore power as quickly and safely as we can."

    The original estimate of 831,000 outages with this storm in Connecticut breaks the record that was set two months ago by Irene, which blew through Connecticut as a tropical storm. "The Connecticut Department of Transportation estimates that tree damage is five times greater than Irene," said CL&P in a press release.

    "Unlike Tropical Storm Irene, CL&P experienced significant damage to transmission lines in central and northwest Connecticut, complicating restoration efforts," CL&P stated on its website. "These lines bring power from where electricity is made to the wires that supply neighborhoods."

    "The unusually wet, heavy snow on trees still full with leaves - creating tree weights twice the normal levels - created historic damage to the electrical system, particularly in the northwest and north central portions of the state," said CL&P.


    “It is important that our customers understand this restoration is going to take time – there are no quick fixes to the damage to the electrical system,” said Jeff Butler, president and chief operating officer at CL&P. “Generally speaking, we are working with communities to clear roads in the northwest and north central portions of the state before we can begin restoration efforts. We are working as quickly as possible to complete assessments and restore power to our customers.”

    New Jersey Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) had restored power to more than 135,000 customers by noon Monday, but there were still 235,000 that remained without.

    “Based on the damage we are seeing on our system, midnight Thursday is when we should have the majority of our customers back in service, with the remaining customers restored by midnight Friday," said JCP&L President Donald M. Lynch.

    About 3,000 line, support and forestry personnel were expected to be involved in JCP&L’s overall restoration effort by the end of the day Monday, according to a press release from the company. JCP&L is also "working to secure additional outside utility crews, electrical contractors and tree contractors to assist with the restoration process."

    JCP&L serves 1.1 million customers in 13 New Jersey counties.

    Pennsylvania Todd Meyers, spokesman for FirstEnergy Corp., said Monday afternoon that Med-Ed, a utility company associated with FirstEnergy, still had 85,000 customers without power in central and southeastern Pennsylvania.

    "That's down from 253,000," Meyers added. "We're looking at Thursday for full restoration... Just be patient and know there is an army of linemen working feverishly to restore power."

    FirstEnergy Corp. is comprised of 10 electric utility companies that service a large portion of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, West Virginia and western Maryland. The company had a total of 782,000 customers without power across the Northeast as a result of this weekend's snowstorm.

    Maryland & West Virginia Potomac Edison, another company associated with FirstEnergy, originally had about 107,000 customers without power in Maryland and West Virginia, but had brought that number down to 18,000 as of Monday afternoon, according to Meyers.

    Power is expected to be fully restored by midnight Wednesday.

    SAFETY CL&P would like to remind customers to NEVER touch a downed line and recommends staying at least 10 feet away from all wires. CL&P also advises that people "assume any downed, hanging or burning power lines are live and dangerous. Call 9-1-1 immediately with any emergency condition. If you are using a generator, make sure it has been installed properly, and never use it indoors or in partially enclosed spaces."

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