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The Lights Are Back On For Most, But That Doesn't Mean Folks Are Happy

Mar 11, 2018 02:42PM ● By Bill Gilman
When Winter Storm Quinn (yes, it had a name, in case you wondered) rolled through the Merrimack Valley on Wednesday, it dumped nearly 18 inches of snow on the region.
But it wasn't the light and fluffy, "hey kids! Let's go sledding!" kind of snow that blanketed Central Mass. No, the Merrimack Valley got slammed with heavy, wet snow that took down tree limbs, entire trees and thousands of power lines. As a result, hundreds of thousands of residents and business across the state lost power, including more than 10,000 in Tewksbury and more than 12,000 in Dracut.
Surveying the damage on Thursday, National Grid officials were candid and predicted that full power would not be restored until Sunday night.
As of 2 p.m. Sunday, only 97 Dracut customers and just 28 Tewksbury customers were still without power.
Restoration efforts included National Grid calling in crews from as far away as Ohio, Florida, and Quebec, Canada. 
The round-the-clock efforts have paid off and it appears National Grid officials were candid in their assessment. However, many people in the region, including residents and public officials, were not pleased that it took several days to get the lights (and the heat) back on.
"National Grid is once again failing the Merrimack Valley," tweeted state Sen. Barbara L'Italien, D-Andover, a candidate for Congress (MA-3). "50k households & businesses w/out power is unacceptable, at a time when this company is making record profits & discussing rate increases. I'll continue to hold them accountable until service is fully restored."
"As New Englanders, we should be used to major snowstorms, but that does not mean we should have to get used to the extended power outages that tend to follow," said Atty. Barry Finegold of Andover, who recently announced his candidacy for the State Senate seat he once held. "I applaud the effort of the National Grid employees for working nonstop to get the power back on, but I still question if there are ample resources coming from the top and whether more workers can be brought in more quickly to address the issue. Even though the response to this storm looks like it may be quicker than what we saw with last fall’s outages, we should have a higher standard of service and quicker response time to storms."
Finegold also raised a concern voiced by many residents  --  financial loss due to spoiled groceries, having to stay at a motel, frozen pipes, etc.
The power outages were the primary source of discussion on social media over the past few days, as residents used Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to keep each other informed about where restoration work was being done, what resources were available and where information could be found.
Others used social media to vent their frustrations. A quick sampling of some posts:
  • "Power....ETR Sunday at 11:45pm.... are you kidding me ???"
  • "Anyone have power back yet? Haven't seen any National Grid trucks around."
  • "So the limb took out the street light and my cable line. Estimated time of fix is sometime tomorrow. Yay I work from home. Talking to the dogs is getting old, they just stare at me and whine."
  • "Does anyone have an update on why the power came back twice over the past few hours on South Street & Jennies Way and then went back out? Thanks."
  • "House is getting colder and colder, any local hotels accept cats, if a room has freed up???"
  • "Please if you can check on your neighbors make sure they are ok even if you do not know them. They might be elderly or disabled."
Despite the frustrations, the storm and power outages also proved once again that the people of Dracut and Tewksbury will always rally to support each other in a crisis.
Dracut set up an overnight shelter at the Richardson School. Tewksbury had "warming centers" at the Senior Center and the Police Station and the Tewksbury Congregational Church offered both a warm place for people to hang out and electrical outlets to charge devices, but also free meals for two nights in a row.
Al Fresca


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