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Gas incident in Rhode Island leaves over 7,000 National Grid customers without heat amid brutal cold

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
January 24, 2019, 3:30:19 AM EST

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo declared a state of emergency in Newport County, Rhode Island, after more than 7,000 National Grid utility customers were left without heat on Monday as extreme cold gripped the region.

In a statement, the company said it is currently experiencing a low gas pressure situation affecting customers on Aquidneck Island. The city of Newport has seen the majority of the outages.

"On Monday evening, out of an abundance of caution, National Grid began suspending gas service to 7,100 gas customers in Newport and Middleton," the company said. This interruption in service is due to a low transmission supply issue from our natural gas supplier—Algonguin Gas Transmission Co."

The outage could be a prolonged event, according to the company statement. Up to 1,000 gas workers and support personnel have been deployed to help resolve the issue as soon as possible.

"We have multiple teams on the ground assessing the situation and will continue to provide updates. This restoration process may be a multi-day event for those impacted," National Grid officials said.

National Grid, along with state and local officials, was working on getting information about warming centers out to those affected.

Raimondo said it could be more than a week or more before every impacted customer had their service restored.

"Please note that the area is safe, and National Grid has the situation under control. We know how important your gas service and safety is, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, especially in the cold weather," the company said, adding that it would reimburse transportation or lodging costs incurred by affected residents.

The process of re-pressurization to the approximately 340 Middletown customers impacted by the gas supply disruption on Aquidneck Island began Tuesday night, National Grid said.

"National Grid has deployed over 400 technicians on round-the-clock shifts to assist in the methodical door-to-door three phase process of shutting off meters for the remaining 6,400 customers impacted in the City of Newport, a necessary first step towards a safe, full restoration." officials said.

National Grid is offering reimbursement for hotel costs, meals and heating costs associated with the gas shutoff, the company said on Twitter.

The company emphasized that the area is safe and it has the situation under control.

Newport Public Schools were closed on Tuesday, according to ABC 6.

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Monday was the coldest day in several years for the Newport area, according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliott Abrams.

"Temperatures on Tuesday morning were in the single digits and low teens," he said, adding that temperatures will be on the rise into midweek.

The low temperature in the capital of Providence was 1 degree Fahrenheit.

Temperatures will increase to the low 50s on Thursday, but winds gusting past 50 mph could lead to additional disruptions to power service across the region. Tree damage is also possible.

Cold weather will quickly return for Friday and Saturday, with highs in the upper 30s and upper 20s on these respective days.

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