After the storm, power outages plague New England

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 30, 2011 5:33 PM
After the storm, power outages plague New England

By Lauren Keiper

BOSTON (Reuters) - Roughly one million customers remained without power throughout New England on Tuesday, two days after a killer storm barreled through the region.

Power outages were most widespread in Massachusetts and Connecticut, where some residents could remain in the dark for a week or more, officials said.

In Massachusetts, more than 200,000 customers were without power by Tuesday afternoon, down from more than 500,000 a day earlier, emergency management officials reported.

The state department of public health on Tuesday told people in western Massachusetts to stay out of the Deerfield River and also out of the Connecticut River downstream of its confluence with the Deerfield at Montague City, due to raw sewage and potential bacterial contamination in the water.

Officials said severe flooding from the storm inundated a wastewater treatment plant, resulting in its shutdown and a continuing discharge of untreated wastewater into the Deerfield River.

They advised against swimming, wading, boating and fishing in the water until the problem was addressed.

Neighboring Connecticut still had more than 450,000 residents without power on Tuesday, according to the utility companies.

A second storm-related death in Connecticut was also confirmed, according to emergency management spokesman Scott DeVico.

Flooding remained a concern especially in the southern portion of the Connecticut River Basin, where the river was expected to crest overnight into Wednesday at just over 15 feet, flirting with major flood stage.

The swollen river in Connecticut is a delayed response from all the precipitation to the north working its way down, said National Weather Service senior hydrologist Bill Saunders.

In Vermont, where floodwaters damaged homes and businesses and shut down hundreds of roads, roughly 20,000 customers remained without electricity.

The state planned to begin distributing food and water to towns cut off due to road closures, airlifting supplies as needed, said Mark Bosma, a spokesman for the Vermont Division of Emergency Management.

New Hampshire officials have reported one confirmed storm-related death and 240 injuries. In the Granite State, about 31,000 residents were without power.

In Rhode Island, where roughly 130,000 customers remained in the dark, the coastline was battered from Hurricane Irene.

"This is the worst coastal erosion that I have seen," Governor Lincoln Chafee said after touring damage in Westerly.

Central Maine Power Company reported about 88,000 customers were still without power on Tuesday afternoon.

(Additional reporting by Scott Malone in West Dover, Vermont and Zach Howard in Conway, Massachusetts; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)