• Severe storms cause outages in northern Vermont
     | July 19,2008

    WATERBURY - Severe thunderstorms with strong winds struck areas of northern Vermont on Friday afternoon, causing road closures and more than 13,000 power outages.

    The Emergency Management department said several towns in Grand Isle, Franklin and Lamoille counties reported damage in the storm, and both Washington Electric Cooperative and Green Mountain Power reported a number of trees down that disrupted power. Most areas of Vermont were under severe thunderstorm watch or warning until 7 p.m. Friday.

    Dan Weston, director of operations for Washington Electric Co-op, said Friday evening that 710 customers were without power. The hardest hit areas were "in a swath" that began with Irish Hill in Berlin and then went through Northfield, Orange, Corinth and Tunbridge, as afternoon storms knocked down a lot of trees that were slowing power crews.

    WEC also had two broken telephone poles, said Weston, who estimated most co-op members would have power back on tonight. WEC had called in all its line crews and was getting help from additional utilities.

    GMP spokeswoman Dottie Schnure said the utility had 240 customers out in Addison and Washington counties, mostly around Northfield, and also in the White River Junction area. She said power restoration would be "very slow" because of the number of trees knocked down.

    The storms uprooted trees throughout the northern part of Vermont, taking down power lines and blocking several roads, including Route 108 north of Cambridge and Route 2 in North Hero, which was expected to be closed just north of North Hero village until at least midnight Friday, state police said.

    The Vermont Electric Cooperative, Inc. in Johnson reported that more than 7,500 of its members were without power after the storms. Outage calls began coming in just after 3 p.m.

    "This storm appears to have caused more devastation to our system and service territory than last month's major storm," stated Jeffery Wright, chief operating officer, in a release. "At this point our assessment is that members can realistically expect these outages to be lengthy in duration, some members will be without power through the weekend. Unfortunately, and adding insult to injury, these unprecedented storms have hit many of the same areas each time."

    VEC's control center dispatched line crews to the hardest hit areas and the company hoped to contact other utilities and contract crews for additional help.

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