Unitil Corporation, (www.unitil.com), a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, is preparing for the potential of severe weather conditions in all of its service territories due to Hurricane Irene this weekend.
According to the most recent forecasts tracking Irene, severe weather, including high winds and heavy rain, are possible for Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine beginning as early as Sunday afternoon into the early hours Monday morning. Such conditions can cause electric outages and flooding. Substantial damage to the electrical system can extend the restoration period.
Unitil has been monitoring the storm track and preparing for the arrival of Irene since Monday, August 22. The exact track of the storm continues to vary and we will continue to adjust plans for the expected impact as forecast models come into alignment. The company is in the process of acquiring additional crews, stocking necessary inventory and equipment, and all employees have been activated in their storm assignments. We advise customers to be similarly prepared for the potential of widespread outages. We recommend 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
- Bring in anything that can be picked up by wind (bicycles, lawn furniture, etc.)
- Fill your car’s gas tank
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
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 will work quickly and efficiently to restore power in the event of a widespread outage and will have additional crews staged to respond to storm damage. In the meantime, we ask for our customers’ patience and understanding should there be a disruption in power, and we will provide regular updates to local media outlets regarding progress.
“With the current track of the hurricane Unitil is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” Unitil VP of Communications and Public Affairs Carol Valianti said. “We have drilled system-wide hurricane scenarios as recently as 2010 and we are prepared to respond to any level of damage to the electrical system that may occur as a result of Hurricane Irene. We urge our customers and employees to take all necessary precautions and stay safe until the storm has passed.”