Unitil Corporation, (www.unitil.com), a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, is advising customers to stay inside as the peak winds associated with the Hurricane Sandy hybrid storm arrive. At this time, wind speeds have exceeded safe levels for operating bucket trucks in some locations, but Unitil crews will continue to work closely with first responders to address wires down issues and help assure public safety.
“Thus far, the storm’s track and intensity has matched our forecasts,” Unitil media relations manager Alec O’Meara said. “We continue to work closely with first responders to address any wires down issues reported in order to help keep roads clear and customers safe, and we urge customers to stay inside and stay safe during the late afternoon and overnight hours.”
As of 4 p.m., approximately 22,500 customers are without power spread across all service territories. Of those, approximately 15,000 customers are without power in the NH Seacoast region, 5,000 are out in the New Hampshire Capital region and 2,500 in North-Central Massachusetts. Outage numbers are expected to move up and down throughout the storm due in part to the extended length of the peak wind period. 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 restore power as long as conditions allow for safe restoration; bucket trucks cannot operate safely in winds in excess of 35 mph. As the storm progresses, Unitil will provide an estimated restoration time for customers once public safety has been assured and a damage assessment phase is completed. We encourage customers to call 211 to get information regarding local shelters.
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.
Customers experiencing outages should call the following toll-free numbers:
- For the NH Seacoast Area: 1-800-582-7276
- For the NH Capital Area: 1-800-852-3339
- For Massachusetts: 1-888-301-7700
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.