Unitil Corporation, (www.unitil.com), a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, has been working diligently throughout the weekend making preparations for Hurricane Sandy. Unitil will open its system and all regional emergency operations centers at 8 a.m. on Monday, October 29 in response to severe weather stemming from the merging of Hurricane Sandy with an incoming cold front. Based on today’s forecast, the highest impact of the storm, nicknamed “Frankenstorm” by local media outlets, is forecasted to impact Unitil’s service territory Monday afternoon and into Tuesday. However, the region is expected to feel the impact of the storm for several days due to the size and track of the system.
“Because the merged storm is forecasted to impact the area for a long period time, this could be a scenario where there are multiple outage peaks over the course of the event,” Unitil media relations manager Alec O’Meara said. “People could have power restored, then lose power again before the storm has passed completely.”
Due to the severity of the forecast we anticipate the impact to the electrical system in the region could be severe and may result in a multiple-day restoration. Unitil will be communicating throughout the storm and restoration through Public Service Announcements (PSAs), our website, our customer call center and through the media. We also encourage customers to follow along with our storm updates via our Twitter feed (@Unitil) and will be providing real-time outage information online at www.unitil.com/map.
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR MEDIA: Unitil asks that when reporting outage information, outlets time stamp the information. Outage numbers change hourly and we wish to make sure the information customers receive is consistent and understandable. Re-Tweets and re-posting of old information without referencing a time can create confusion.
Outside of electrical issues, Unitil is also advising its gas customers to be aware of the potential impact flooding could have on individual gas services. If water levels were high enough to cover the gas meter, call Unitil to check your meter and regulator before using your gas system. Floodwaters may have shifted your home or caused other stresses to the natural gas piping, establishing conditions that favor a gas leak. If basement flooding has impacted natural gas appliances they should not be used until inspected by a qualified heating contractor, plumber or appliance repair representative.
We recommend all our customers remain similarly prepared by checking and making an inventory of the following items:
- Flashlights and fresh batteries
- A battery-operated radio and clock
- Bottled water, canned foods and a manual can opener
- A list of important phone numbers and a car charger for cell phones if applicable
- A first aid kit.
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
You can also report outages online here.
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 and avoid anything metal nearby which could potentially conduct electricity. Stay in a safe place and avoid driving in damaged areas so you don’t interfere with rescue and restoration efforts.
“We are in close contact with emergency responders and public officials regarding our preparations and efforts regarding restoration. Public safety will be top priority in the early hours of the event, and we ask for our customer’s patience as we work to restore power,” O’Meara said.