Unitil Corporation, (www.unitil.com), a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers throughout New England, is activating its System Emergency Operations Center in Hampton, NH, as well as its Regional Emergency Operations Centers in Fitchburg, MA, Concord, NH and Kensington, NH in response to the arrival of Hurricane Irene. All Emergency Operations Centers will be open as of 6:00 AM ET.
“Hurricane Irene is approaching New England as a very strong, very large storm system,” Unitil Emergency Management Director Rich Francazio said. “Our Emergency Operations Centers are open and fully staffed. Our crews are prepared to respond to any damage sustained to the electrical system once conditions become safe to do so.”
Wind and heavy rain will be strongest between 10:00 AM ET through early evening. This is a significant storm, and Unitil urges residents to stay sheltered and safe. Such conditions can cause electric outages and while we anticipate most interruptions to be for relatively short periods of times, substantial damage to the electrical system can occuring extending the restoration period.
Customers experiencing outages should call the following toll-free numbers:
- For the NH Seacoast Area: 800-582-7276
- For the NH Capital Area: 800-852-3339
- For Massachusetts: 888-301-7700
Here are some tips on what to do if there is a power outage in your area:
- Report the outage to your utility using the numbers listed or on our website www.unitil.com!
- Stay away from downed power lines, and call Unitil immediately!
- Turn off every inside light except one.
- Raise your cooling system thermostat to 80 degrees or higher.
- If possible, turn off your electric water heater.
- If using a generator, please follow the instructions and take the necessary safety precautions.
- Make sure your kitchen range and oven is off.
- Turn off as many appliances as possible.
- Avoid opening the freezer door. A full, freestanding freezer will keep food at freezing temperatures about 2 days; a half-full freezer about 1 day.
- Leave your porch light on. It will help utility workers gauge their progress in restoring power to your area.
- When the power comes back on, gradually switch on your appliances, lights and air conditioning.
In the event of downed wires, assume all cables and wires that have fallen or dangling are energized and stay away. Be sure to avoid wet ground or puddles near a downed lined because water conducts electricity. In addition, keep away from all flooded and debris laden areas because they may be hiding downed lines. Stay in a safe place and avoid driving in damaged areas so you don’t interfere with rescue and restoration efforts.
Unitil has been preparing for the arrival of Irene since Tuesday, August 23, and is advising its customers to be similarly prepared for the potential of widespread outages. Unitil will work quickly and efficiently to restore power in the event of a widespread outage and has additional crews staged and ready to respond to storm
damage. In the meantime, we ask for our customers’ patience and understanding should there be a disruption in power. We will provide regular updates regarding progress through our call center IVR, to local media outlets, on our Twitter feed and on the Outage Center on www.unitil.com.
“We urge everyone to stay inside and stay safe until the storm system has passed out of the area,” said Carol Valianti, Unitil’s Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs. “Unitil is prepared and will be working around the clock to address any public safety issues, assess the damage and restore any power lost as a result of Irene.”