Power Is Restored To Parts Of EG, But Other Areas Still Dark
For National Grid, the power outages across the state have been a bit like working in the dark.
Downtown East Greenwich has power again, with the last spots - among them the CVS plaza, Centerville Bank and Thorpe’s Liquor - finally back on as of 4 p.m. Tuesday. Power had been off since Sunday morning as a result of the winds from Tropical Storm Irene.
Other areas were restored too, including the neighborhoods around Hanaford School. The Meadowbrook and Tanglewood areas are still without power, however, as National Grid struggles to restore power across the state.
One problem, according to a National Grid subcontractor who was working to restore power in the Shippeetown Road area, is that it’s been difficult to know exactly where the critical areas are that need repair.
“We don’t always have the best information,” conceded Robert Galgano, a construction engineer and project manager from Massachusetts who was called in to work on the storm last Thursday.
Overnight, workers try to gather the most accurate information so that come morning, he said, crews can target those areas.
“Those are prioritized based on the best information available,” Galgano said, who was working with a crew on Division Street east of Shippeetown Road. “But it’s not always the best information.”
According to Town Manager Bill Sequino, National Grid had restored power to more than 200,000 residents since the peak of 340,000 customers without power in Rhode Island. He learned that during a conference call with a National Grid spokesman during the day on Tuesday.
At that time, the power company was looking for direction from the various town officials as to which areas were priority. Sequino said he identified two priorities: first, getting the power back on in all the public schools and, second, dealing with the downed power lines at the intersection of Maplewood and Silverwood drives near Meadowbrook Farms.
By Tuesday evening, the utility pole there had been replaced, but the power lines were still in the street and power was still off in the area.
Another trouble spot for the town was the long stretch of downed lines on Division Street.
Crews from National Grid finally arrived to deal with power lines that have been lying on the street and hanging down from tree limbs since Sunday.
The power company had a tree crew from Florida and a line crew from Michigan Tuesday afternoon working on the power lines that fell during the storm. For some in the area, that was welcome news not just because power could soon be restored, but because they said the lines were a huge safety hazard.
One woman who did not want to be identified said she finally called the police department about the lines this morning, after watching a dairy truck back down the street to avoid having the lines brush over the top of the truck.
“Nighttime was a disaster,” she added, referring to drivers on the dark road who couldn’t see the lines hanging down.
For National Grid supervisor Steve Ostrosky, who was also on the scene at Division Street, the hardest part of the job is thinking about everyone dealing without electricity.
"It's tough. You feel sorry for the people without power."
"This is the worst storm I've ever worked on," said Galgano, recalling that hurricanes Gloria and Bob and all the blizzards since haven't been this bad. On top of that, he said, the help that would normally come from other states like New York and New Jersey isn't coming because they're too bogged down in their own electrical problems.
"Usually, a couple days in, we get flooded with outside help," Galgano said. "It's bare bones this time."
He added, "We're doing our best."