Local officials say that almost all Easton residents are expected to regain power today, four days after Tropical Storm Irene swept through the area. But that doesn’t mean everyone. And there’s no doubt that some officials are unhappy with the response of National Grid, the company responsible for providing electricity to town residents.
“In my opinion they did not react with the speed one would expect after a major storm. Once they did engage they worked quickly, but that wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon. Not acceptable,” said Town Administrator David Colton late Wednesday.
The company has been working since Monday to restore power to residents throughout the state, and originally more than 7,400 Easton residents lost power. As of 6 a.m. Thursday, 1,400 residents were still reported to be without power. National Grid reports that most will regain that power by the end of Friday, and all should be on line by Sunday.
Easton Police Chief Allan Krajcik said that he has been working closely with the crews, and he expects that most Easton residents will get power by the end of today. National Grid reports that most state residents will regain power by the end of Friday, and all should be on line by Sunday.
Meanwhile, Easton officials have been grappling with downed wires, trees and hundreds of complaints about power outages. Though National Grid spokespeople said that priority would be put on restoring power to public safety structures, power was not restored to the fire station on Bay Street and the Department of Public Works office until late Wednesday afternoon.
Seniors at Parker Terrace and Elyse Circle also did not have there power restored until Tuesday, said He said the fire department provided a generator for seniors who were on life support.
Still, Krajcik said that the company has done a decent job restoring power to more than 800,000 residents throughout the state. He said the storm is the worst he’s seen since Hurricane Gloria, in 1985, and that the company’s slow performance is due to the widespread damage.
“They’ve brought crews in from all over – I’ve met people from Michigan and Ohio…. They’ve been very good to us, but the problem has been the volume of the work that has to be done,” he said.
Yesterday, National Grid president Marcy Reed held a press conference, and said she expects 90 percent of her customers to be on line by the end of Friday.
“I know it’s tough and difficult, and people are not happy with no power on day three of the storm. But, please have patience,” she said.
She also said her company, along with three other utilities that service Massachusetts, is being ordered to provide information about their response preparedness to the state attorney general’s office.
“It’s created challenges, and we continue to add manpower and resources,” she said.
The last residents to get power will be homes that are spread out in rural areas, in which there are just one or two homes to a feeder, she said. She also said some homes in neighborhoods that are serviced by a different feeder than the rest of the neighborhood may also have to wait until the end of the restoration process.
Still, she said she hopes all homes will have power by Monday.
Though residents have complained to town officials that they haven’t gotten adequate response from National Grid, Reed told residents to call and let them know they don’t have power. The power outage hotline is 1-800-465-1212.
Meanwhile, safety officials continue to work to clean up the mess. Department of Public Works Director Wayne Southworth said his department continues to clean up downed trees, and that he too has been unimpressed with National Grid’s response.
“We’ve had issues before. They are a private entity and have been cutting back, and it’s had its effect on preparedness,” he said.
Colton said that after the restoration is over, the town needs to discuss how to deal with the delayed response.
“I think we need to give them an opportunity to explain themselves. Then we need to have a frank discussion about what action the Town would be able to take,” he said.