LIVE BLOG: Hurricane Irene heads to Southborough

by susan on August 27, 2011

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Have your heard? There’s a hurricane headed our way. How powerful Irene will be when she gets here remains to be seen, but Southborough emergency officials say to expect heavy rain and damaging wind.

Here is some storm-related info for easy reference:

I’ll be updating this post throughout the storm with the latest Southborough information, so be sure to check back. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Refresh your browser to see the latest updates. Feel free to add comments with how things are in your neck of the woods.

Update 8/30 2:10 pm: According to the National Grid website, 326 customers in Southborough are still without power. Earlier today that number was 174. Whether that means some who had power lost it again, or the numbers aren’t accurate, I have no idea.

Stores in the Town Center Plaza – Dunkin Donuts, Eaton Apothecary, Middlesex Savings Bank, among others – were without power this morning, but they are back up now.

Update 8/30 10:05 am: The Southborough Library and Southborough Senior Center are both open today, as is the Town House.

Update 8/30 9:50 am: Power has been restored to all Southborough schools, and Superintendent Charles Gobron says they’re ready to open as planned on Wednesday.

Update 8/30 9:10 am: Southborough businesses are starting to reopen this morning after the power outage. The downtown area has power, so Mauro’s Cafe and Mauro’s Market are both open. I assume the Southborough House of Pizza will be as well later today. Starbucks on Route 9 opened their doors shortly before 9:00 am this morning. I heard that Red Barn Coffee on Route 9 is also open, but may have a limited menu.

I haven’t been able to get in touch with any of the businesses in Town Center Plaza – Dunkin Donuts, Eaton Apothecary, etc. – so I don’t know if they have power. Anyone know?

According to the National Grid website, there are still 174 of its 4,008 Southborough customers without power.

Update 8/30 8:45 am: Good morning, Southborough. Power has been restored to many in town, but not to all, and that means some Southborough residents are going on 48 hours without electricity. I’m not sure the extent of the outage at this point, but I’ve heard reports that Clifford and Woodland Roads are still without power.

I haven’t heard yet whether school will start tomorrow as scheduled, but will let you know when I do.

Update 8/29 9:45 pm: Power has been restored to the Town House, so town offices will be open tomorrow. Not sure yet about the Library or Senior Center.

Update 8/29 9:15 pm: I just posted the latest update from Southborough emergency management officials. You can read the whole thing here.

In summary, Southborough wants answers from National Grid on when power will be restored, but there is no timeline yet. The mandatory outside water ban has been shortened and will now run through 5:00 pm on Tuesday. Officials assure the water supply is safe and there has been no impact on water quality.

Update 8/29 8:00 pm: Reports of power being restored to more areas of town, including parts of Main Street, Marlboro, and Framingham Roads, also the East Main/Overlook area.

Update 8/29 6:45 pm: Power has been restored to small pockets of Southborough, but most of the town still seems to be without. I got a phone call from National Grid a few moments ago saying they’re focused on clearing downed wires and restoring power as fast as they can, but they acknowledged that with the extent of the damage, their restoration work may last “well into the weekend in some of the hardest hit areas.”

National Grid also reminds everyone to treat all downed wires as live and dangerous.

Update 8/29 4:45 pm: Several residents in the Flagg Road area report their power has been restored. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come!

Update 8/29 3:30pm: I just heard from Superintendent Charles Gobron. Algonquin has power and will start on Wednesday as planned. A decision about Southborough K-8 schools has not yet been made. It all depends on when power is restored, but Gobron said he was “hopeful” for an on-time start.

Northborough K-8 schools don’t have power either, so they’re in the same boat.

Update 8/29 12:50 pm: I just posted a press release from Southborough town officials. You can read the whole thing here, but in summary:

Still no ETA from National Grid on when power will be restored. A mandatory outside water ban has been imposed until Wednesday August 31 at 5:00 pm due to a fire at one of the town’s pumping stations this morning. The DPW has opened access to the brush disposal area at the Transfer Station:

The DPW has opened access to the brush disposal area at the Transfer Station. Access to the disposal area is from the lower DPW area. The gate to the Transfer Station is not open. The transfer station will open on Wednesday if power is restored. Only brush may be disposed of in this area—please no stumps, logs or trash.

Update 8/29 12:45 pm: An important message for those of you with pump-driven septic systems just posted here.

Update 8/29 12:00 pm: As of noon today, the town’s emergency shelter has moved from Woodward School to Trottier Middle School, 53 Parkerville.

To report water or other problems, please call the Police Department at 508-485-2121. Please call 9-1-1 only in the event of an emergency.

Update 8/29 11:30 am: Per emergency officials, National Grid still has no ETA on when power will be restored, but they have crews in town working on it. Phone service may also be out in much of town.

There are still road closures around town, but some have reopened this morning, including Marlboro Road between School Street and Framingham Road, Breakneck Hill Road between Davis Road and Woodland Road, and Cordaville Road between the Rockpoint Road loop. Please continue to use caution while driving around town and do not cross road barricades.

No word yet on whether the extended power outage will impact the scheduled start of school on Wednesday.

Update 8/29 8:45 am: Power is still out in Southborough. My blogging capabilities are limited. I’ll mostly be updating via Twitter.

Please scroll down to the end of the comments to read important messages from Chief Mauro and Selectman Boland.

Update 8/28 7:55 pm: This is not good news. Town Administrator Jean Kitchen said in a comment below that National Grid expects it may take several days to restore power to Southborough.

Town offices will be closed on Monday.

Update 8/28 7:45 pm: According to the National Grid map, pretty much the entire town of Southborough is without power, and here is no ETA on when it will be restored. Please be careful with candles and remember not to run generators in enclosed spaces like you garage.

Southborough police, fire, and DPW have been working tirelessly all day clearing roads, pumping basements, responding to fire and carbon monoxide alarms, and conducting well-being checks. They all deserve our thanks.

If you had a chance to walk around your neighborhood this evening, you’ll be familiar with the state of things. Roadways are littered with debris – leaves, branches, and tree bits. Large trees and limbs have fallen at many homes and across roadways. Several roads are still closed due to downed trees and/or wires.

Update 8/28 6:00 pm: An update from Town Administrator Jean Kitchen.

We do not know when power will be restored. There are numerous trees on wires which have been reported to National Grid. The DPW dept. is working diligently to get roads cleared as soon as possible, but there are some large trees across roads that will require outside contractors to remove the trees-which may not be accomplished until tomorrow (Monday Aug. 29). There are approximately 16 roads with trees across which are closed.. Please remind residents to be as specific as possible (site address if possible) when reporting trees in the roadway or on wires.

Peak wind gusts at the Fire Department reported at 10:44 am at 41MPH. At 2:30pm 4.15 inches of rain had fallen.

The emergency shelter is open at Woodward school,

Please don’t hesitate to call the police department with additional information.

Update 8/28 2:10 pm: Fire Chief John Mauro Jr. asked me to remind residents to stay off the roads. There are trees and live wires down among other hazards.

Speaking of which, there is a report of a large tree blocking Main Street at Sears Road. Also reports of trees on power lines on Oregon Road and on Lovers Lane.

Update 8/28 1:30 pm: Power is still out to much of the town, and branches and trees continue to fall on power lines and roadways. Currently Cordaville Road (Route 85) is closed at Rockpoint Road and traffic is being diverted around Rockpoint. Route 85 is also closed north of School Street. Woodland Road is closed as well.

There have been reports of trees falling on several houses around town. The most serious appears to be a home on Richards Road that suffered significant damage to its roof. No injuries from that incident or any others have been reported.

As the winds die down, emergency responders expect to turn their attention to flooded basements and other water problems.

With my power out, I’m doing most of my updating on Twitter. You can follow me there (you don’t need a Twitter account).

Please continue to use the comments to share your stories!

Update 8/28 11:30 am: Turns out we’re not the only ones in Southborough without power. A large swath of town is in the dark, from just west of Parkerville Road to past Route 495, running north to Northborough Road and south past Route 9. You can see the National Grid outage map here:

Update 8/28 11:00 am: The power is out here at My Southborough headquarters, so my ability to update from here on out will be limited. I’m going to turn off moderation on the comments, so if you have updates about what’s happening in you neighborhood, please share it.

I can tell you Southborough police and fire are handling calls fast and furious for trees down across wires – some with accompanying fires – and trees/limbs across roadways. Some roads, including portions of Woodland Road, have been blocked off. Also lots of calls to investigate building fire alarms. Residents are reporting flooded basements.

Recent reports of trees falling into homes on Southville and Parkerville Roads.

Update 8/28 9:45 am: Increasing reports of trees and limbs down – Atwood, Parmenter, Deerfoot, Cordaville, Framingham roads among others. National Grid reports limited power outages affecting less than five customers each on Flagg Road and Framingham Road. Also an outage affecting 16 customers on Woodland Road.

Update 8/28 9:30 am: St. Mark’s Church has cancelled services today due to Hurricane Irene. Pilgrim Church, along with St. Anne and St. Matthew Churches are holding services as normal this morning. I was unable to reach anyone at First Community Church, so I’m not sure about services there. If anyone knows, please share in the comments.

Update 8/28 9:15 am: Good morning hurricane watchers. It’s raining steadily in Southborough this morning and winds are gusting as Irene approaches our area. According to readings at the Fire Station, nearly 3 inches of rain has fallen since yesterday and winds have gusted as high as 31 mph.

National Grid shows a small outage in the Flagg Road area, but that’s it so far. I’ll continue to post updates as I get them, so stick with me throughout the day.

Update 8/27 11:15 pm: According to the latest news from MEMA (as relayed by Southborough Emergency Management Director of Operations Neal Aspesi), Irene will arrive sometime between 3:00 and 5:00 am on Sunday, with the height of the storm hitting mid-morning. Heavy rain and damaging wind could last for 12-18 hours.

Aspesi reports there is a high probability of flooding rains (4-6+ inches) in Southborough, including bands of 2-3 inches per hour. Winds could reach 30-50 mph sustained, with gusts up to 60-70 mph.

Update 8/27 6:30 pm: An emergency shelter for Southborough residents and their families is now open at Woodward School. If you’re thinking of going to the shelter, you’re advised to do so before the storm hits. Read this post to find out more and to learn what to bring with you.

Update 8/27 5:50 pm: The rain has tapered off in Southborough for the moment, but this afternoon alone we’ve had nearly 1.5 inches of rain delivered by the outer bands of Irene. Emergency officials fear heavy rain will saturate root systems and make trees more likely to topple in the strong winds that are coming.

Update 8/27 4:20 pm: Southborough residents are already reporting flooded basements. To report water problems at your home, call the Southborough Fire Department at 508-485-3235.

Update 8/27 3:45pm: The Southborough Board of Selectmen declared a local state of emergency this afternoon, which gives them access to emergency funds and allows them to make certain decisions in the interest of public safety. The town will set up an Emergency Operations Center starting at 4:00 pm today to monitor the storm and respond to any incidents.

Update 8/27 3:10 pm: National Grid is reporting several power outages in Southborough, but the number of customers impacted appears low. On outage is in the Moulton/Richards Road area. Another is on Route 9 east of Oak Hill Road. You can see the outage map here.

Updated 8/27 2:45 pm: An urban and small stream flood advisory has been issued by the NWS for Southborough and surrounding areas.

* At 219 PM EDT…Bands of heavy rain associated with Hurricane Irene were producing rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches an hour derived from Doppler radar. Although the bands are progressively moving through the area…Additional rains further south combined with saturated ground will result in flooding of urban and poor drainage areas…as well as small streams and creeks.

Updated 8/27 2:30 pm: Southborough is currently under a Tropical Storm Warning. Southborough Emergency Management Director of Operations Neal Aspesi had this to say after a 12:30 conference call with MEMA:

All though Irene is weakening slightly – there are still significant and dangerous hazards!! The public should not let their guard down. Irene is a very large storm with lots of moisture and a very wide wind field. When it arrives in Southborough Irene will be a strong Tropical Storm or Cat 1 Hurricane and will last 12-18 hours…this with other factors could result in damage comparable to a Cat 2 or 3 storm.

1 Kim August 27, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Anyone know if the transfer station is open regular hours today?

2 susan August 27, 2011 at 4:00 PM

I haven’t heard otherwise, so I assume it is. Can anyone who has been there this afternoon confirm?

3 Martha August 28, 2011 at 8:48 AM

Thanks for all the local information, Susan. It’s very valuable at a time like this.

4 Pat Q. August 28, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Stay safe everyone! Scrabble marathon anyone? :)

5 Jerryc August 28, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Power out at strawberry hill at 10:10. Hear trees crashing every few minutes. House is holding up well. 3G working for now.

6 Marthab August 28, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Lost power on Richards Rd. about 12:15..Our trees are swing dancin’ in the wind.

7 Kathryn Korostoff August 28, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Any flooding? How are everyone’s basements holding up?

8 susan August 28, 2011 at 1:40 PM

There’s water in our basement, and with power out, no sump to pump it out. I suspect we’re far from the only ones with that problem.

9 John Mauro August 28, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Please remind residents that although the winds and rain have subsided, it is dangerous for people to be out. Several trees and electric wires are down all throughout town. Please stay off of the roadways in order to allow utility, public works, and public safety crews to clear the streets.

10 Grateful August 28, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Thanks for all of the updates. We’re grateful for the information you’ve posted!

11 Mom of two August 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Anyone know when we are expected to get power back? I am on the north side of route 9. Can’t check Nat’l Grid b/c I don’t know our account number.

12 Grateful August 28, 2011 at 3:29 PM

We are also North of 9 and when we called Nat’l Grid to report our outage the recording said there was no estimated time yet because they are still assessing damages.

13 Town Administrator Jean Kitchen August 28, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Just a quick update from emergency operations:

We do not know when power will be restored. There are numerous trees on wires which have been reported to National Grid. The DPW dept. is working diligently to get roads cleared as soon as possible, but there are some large trees across roads that will require outside contractors to remove the trees-which may not be accomplished until tomorrow (Monday Aug. 29). There are approximately 16 roads with trees across which are closed.. Please remind residents to be as specific as possible (site address if possible) when reporting trees in the roadway or on wires.

Peak wind gusts at the Fire Department reported at 10:44 am at 41MPH. At 2:30pm 4.15 inches of rain had fallen.

The emergency shelter is open at Woodward school,

Please don’t hesitate to call the police department with additional information.

14 Mark August 28, 2011 at 6:54 PM

General tossup question: if a neighbors tree falls into your yard, who’s responsible for cleanup and expense?

15 Jerryc August 28, 2011 at 7:38 PM

My son won a propane lamp in a cub scout raffle and boy is it coming in handy. We grilled chicken nuggets and patties and the kids want them grilled from now on. Time to pull out my old ghost stories.

16 Town Administrator Jean Kitchen August 28, 2011 at 7:43 PM

AUGUST 28 7:30PM

Twenty eight members of the Southborough Emergency Management Team including the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the Medical Reserve Core (MRC) were deployed to the Emergency Management Operations Center at the Southborough Fire Station at 8am on August 28 to manage the effects of Hurricane Irene. Peak gusts of 41 MPH were reported at 10:44AM and rain of 4.15 inches was reported at 1:30PM. A shelter at Woodward School was opened at 6PM on Saturday August 27 and staffed by members of CERT and MRC. Numerous roads were temporarily closed due to downed wires and trees, and power outages were reported throughout town. The DPW department is working to clear the roadways while National Grid is working on removing trees and limbs that are hanging on their wires.
There are numerous trees down on Sears Road near Stowe Road. It is expected that tree contractors will be out on Monday to remove the trees. Other roads throughout Town may be impassable due to trees on power lines.
National Grid informs us at this time it may take several days to restore electricity to the Town. Town offices will be closed on Monday.

17 Mom of two August 28, 2011 at 8:33 PM

Several days? I’m guessing this will impact school starting? Yikes. I have to admit we are not prepared for days without electricity. Yikes. Again.

18 SouthboroDave August 28, 2011 at 9:42 PM

Susan, thank you for continuing to be a local news reporter for us! We’ve been relying on you for pulling together a local summary. Many SB residents are probably wondering how we can thank you when this us all over.. :)

19 grateful August 28, 2011 at 10:51 PM

@SouthboroDave – right on… Susan, you’ve been unbelievably valuable the last 24 hours. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

20 BOS Chairman Bill Boland August 28, 2011 at 10:58 PM

For those residents still going out tonight or Monday morning please be aware that there is a good chance the town may still not have power Monday morning. While National Grid is working to restore downed lines and remove trees from them, some roads may still be closed. Some traffic lights may still be out.

If you are traveling, please be careful and aware of the conditions. DO NOT TRY TO GO THROUGH ROAD CLOSED BARRIERS. It may look clear but you may not notice the trees hanging on wires overhead. There will still be debris on some roads in the morning and more may come down overnight as we still have some heavy wind gusts. Please allow extra time for your commute and be alert for work crews clearing the roads.

We hope to have power restored as soon as possible but as of 10:30 PM tonight, over 420,000 people in the National Grid service area are without power.

21 John Mauro August 29, 2011 at 3:30 AM

The following road closures will still be in effect due to downed trees and/or power lines:

1. Marlboro Road between School Street and Framingham Road
2. Breakneck Hill Road between Davis Road and Woodland Road
3. Cordaville Road between the Rock Point Road loop
4. Latisquama Road near Birchwood Drive
5. Pine Hill Road near # 78
6. Sears Road near Stowe Road
7. Summit Road near Fairview Drive.

Additionally, due to power outage, traffic lights are out throughout town. USE CAUTION AT TRAFFIC LIGHTS THAT ARE NOT OPERATIONAL. Crossovers on Route 9 at White Bagley/Breakneck Hill Roads and Crystal Pond Road are CLOSED.

Use caution and expect delays on the roadways.

22 Southside Gadsden Flyer August 29, 2011 at 9:24 AM

Brrrr! Cold shower this morning, but thankfully no damage and water in the basement has subsided. Hope to hear some updates today about getting the juice back on!

23 SVK1025 August 29, 2011 at 9:35 AM

This blog has been really helpful. My sister lives in Southborough with her baby and I haven’t been able to get hold of them since last night because her phone died. So I am getting really worried. Because of road closures it has been hard for friends to get to her. These updates have been really helpful. Hope to hear about the power getting back on soon. Thanks!

24 Shimoga Prakash August 29, 2011 at 9:43 AM

We have lived for 8 years in Southborough and have witenessed brutal snowstorms. We never lost power before. it would be nice to know when we can get the power back now and this would assist us in making alternate arrangements for the next few days.

25 Chris August 29, 2011 at 9:53 AM

National Grid is still showing “Still Assessing”, for Southborough, on its map…

26 Ren Provo August 29, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Thanks Susan and team for the updates. Stranded in SFO yesterday with unknown conditions at home was a rough close to a fabulous weekend. Neighbors confirmed the area near Summit and Fairview is a mess but there are fewer flooded basements than expected. Keep up the updates. They will make the drive from Chicago back more bearable

27 Neighbour August 29, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Some of the hardest-hit areas of the region are in Southern Central Massachusetts and along Interstate 495.

Southborough has 95 percent of its 4,008 National Grid customers impacted by power outages, while Northborough has 91 percent of 6,477 customers without power. Douglas has 88 percent of its 3,773 without power and 69 percent of National Grid customers in Marlborough are without power. Less than 4 percent of the 76,000 customers in Worcester are without power.

National Grid spokespeople, via Twitter, have said the utility hopes to resolve a majority of the power outages by the end of the day.

28 Erin August 29, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Thank you Susan for all of the updates! Does anyone know where to buy ice near Southborough?

29 Jonas August 29, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Erin, Stop and Shop on Temple St in Framingham had some this morning. May want to call before you go as it was selling like hotcakes.

30 susan August 29, 2011 at 3:14 PM

I’ve also heard Stop & $Shop on Lyman St. in Westborough has a good supply.

31 Kim August 29, 2011 at 5:02 PM

You might give Price Chopper in Shrewsbury (rte 9) a call. On Saturday when all the other stores were running out of water, bread and batteries, they were super stocked.

32 Pat Q. August 29, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Was just at super stop and shop in westboro (near BJ’s). And they had about 30-40 bags of ice and won’t be putting any more out until tomorrow. I have also heard that Colella’s in Hopkinton had ice ( but that was reported this morning….they may be out). Instead of pulling everything out of the fridge….just shoving the entire bag of ice in the fridge ( with a towel underneath) and hoping for the best!

33 djd66 August 29, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Given the bad food sitting in my fridge + everyone else here in town, I think it would be a good idea for the DPW to open up the transfer station today + tomorrow. I have a bunch of stuff on ice + a fridge full of food that is starting to smell. It would be good to get rid of it now rather than having to wait.

34 Brett August 29, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Anyone have any good news on the power side? Has anyone who lost power gotten it back yet?

35 Flagg Rd August 29, 2011 at 4:14 PM

We just got our power back on Flagg Rd a few minutes ago. There’s hope!

36 Kathryn Korostoff August 29, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Hickory Rd JUST got power!!!!

37 kim August 29, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Thank you Susan for all the updates!! We really appreciate it.

38 Pat Q. August 29, 2011 at 4:38 PM

yes……thank you SO much Susan. This has been my only reliable way to get info since the storm hit. MVP of hurricane Irene 2011 for sure! :)

39 Sue August 29, 2011 at 9:39 PM

Love this and I totally agree. You definitely get my vote for MVP! I spent what little battery life I had on my cell phone checking your blog and Facebook updates because they were- hands down- the best source of information. You provide a fantastic service to everyone in town. Thank you so, so much for what you do.

40 Southside Gadsden Flyer August 30, 2011 at 12:48 PM

Ditto! This site and your Twitter feed kept me informed!

41 Phil LaBelle August 29, 2011 at 4:48 PM

I found ice this afternoon at Roche Bros. in Westborough.

42 Dick Chase August 29, 2011 at 5:00 PM

We got power on Main St. about 45 minutes ago.

43 Rachel August 29, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Thanks so much for keeping us updated! It really means a lot!

44 Ellen August 29, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Thanks so much for all of the updates! This really was the only place to get the best, most up-to-date information. Excellent job!!

45 lynne mckay August 29, 2011 at 6:57 PM

Power is back on Ledge Hill Road. Thanks for keeping us updated. You were our main news source.

46 Rachel August 29, 2011 at 7:03 PM

Marlboro Road just got electricity! Thanks, again, for all the updates! God bless you!

47 Tina August 29, 2011 at 7:17 PM

Oakhill rd with power!!

48 Karen Gadbois August 29, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Power on Andrews Way!

49 still out here August 29, 2011 at 8:28 PM

Power stll out on south side. We’re near Finn School. No signs of power yet anywhere near here. Hopefully coming soon!

50 Southside Gadsden Flyer August 30, 2011 at 12:49 PM

Hi still out here, I’m in the same neighborhood, While I’m happy for all these power on reports, I’m SOOO jealous and hopeful that today the lights will be back on for us too…hang in there!

51 Helen August 29, 2011 at 8:48 PM

Power is back on Latisquama!

Thank you to the linemen/women from all the crews of Nat’l Grid and the companies from out of state (and Canada too I think)!

(It was tough trying to play another game by candlelight with 2 boys for the second night in a row)

52 melinda August 29, 2011 at 8:50 PM

Pine Hill Rd. Is on! Thanks for this blog. It was a great resource!

53 Minimom August 29, 2011 at 9:48 PM


54 Chris August 29, 2011 at 9:06 PM

Latisquama/Birchwood/Peggy is on. Only part of Ledge Hill is on at the moment, the ‘older’ part from 85 almost to Whistler. From Whistler to Sears is dark, and all of Sears is as well. Also Main St. from Parkerville west is dark…

55 John Rooney August 29, 2011 at 9:08 PM

While many of us yesterday remained in the comfort of our homes protecting our property and viewed the storm from our windows, what we could not see was the activity at the Fire Station. The Emergency Operation Center in town was fully staffed at 8:00 a.m. Town department heads, town employees and a number of amazing volunteers, worked in surgical precision under the direction of Fire Chief Mauro coordinating and responding to emergency calls and conditions. They worked long after the storm passed, and their work continues this hour. Take comfort in knowing that our Town’s EOC performed in ways normally reserved for large metropolitan areas. It is just one more example of how large the shoes will be to fill when Chief Mauro says good-bye.

As small sections of town regain power, those sitting in darkness suffer a momentary jolt of optimism. Then, with each passing hour, that optimism flickers, dims and goes out, as the power did in my house yesterday morning. Less than 300 yards from my darkness, my friend’s house stands out like a beacon, never having lost power at all. So close, yet so far. Me in Southborough, my friend in Ashland. I struggle to understand why one electric utility’s equipment suffers such disparate impact from another’s equipment when subjected to nearly identical forces.

Unlike many in town, I am lucky. I was able to purchase a generator in anticipation of the storm. My food has not spoiled, my sump worked during the storm, my computer and television work, and hot coffee in the morning tastes the same. While I cannot shower or flush my toilets (no idea how to direct wire my well to the generator), I certainly have it better than most of my neighbors.

In spite of all our advanced technology, we have not yet found a way to completely protect ourselves from Mother Nature. Electric utilities, with their vast networks of poles and wires, are particularly vulnerable to storms, and I applaud them when they mobilize vast resources to quickly rebuild electric systems that are destroyed by a storm such as Irene.

National Grid tells us that the damage to 20 transmission lines is worse than that caused by the ice storms of December 2008 and comparable with damage from Hurricane Bob in 1991 and Hurricane Gloria in 1985. With a sterile recording I’m told we could be without power well into the weekend. Yet, if memory serves me correctly, Irene’s destruction was anticipated at least a week before her arrival. I have yet to see a National Grid truck in my neighborhood, which cynically causes me to wonder whether we are dealing with an undermanned recovery effort that will inevitably frustrate and anger many. How aggressive was National Grid in lining up repair crews, ready to swing into action if outages occurred, to augment its own linemen? The automaton that dials my phone number and then “speaks” compels the conclusion that there is a need for significant improvements to the company’s communication infrastructure, as I am given no substantive information other than to call 911 in an emergency.

I understand that it is easy to complain about something especially when one’s knowledge about electric utility operations is so limited. However, in an age when even a brief power outage causes economic losses and inconvenience, these restoration efforts never seem fast enough. Let us all hope that the prediction that outages could last into the weekend is as accurate predicting the timing of the next storm.

56 MIKE JR August 30, 2011 at 9:08 AM

Thanks John, for your great insight !!! now go back to watching TV

57 Al Hamilton August 30, 2011 at 1:07 PM


I got my power back about 6:00 last night. Being without power for a day is an adventure, 2 days a bother and a week a real bummer. I think that events like this should give us pause to understand just how thin the veneer of civilization is. Our standard of living is built on large quantities of reliable, relatively inexpensive energy whether at the pump, pipe or line. I think it is remarkable that we have this 99% of the time. Much of the world does not.

Not to stick up for the electric utilities but I think they have done a pretty good job so far (it is easy for me to say this since I got my power back before the contents of my freezer thawed). Yes the storm was anticipated but it was anticipated from the Florida to the Maritimes in short a vast area that contains over 100 million people. Each of the utilities in this vast area had to draw on resources from unaffected areas. I have seen utility trucks from as far away as Iron Mountain, Mi. on Pine Hill Road (well over 1000 miles away).

I think that we should also acknowledge our public workers in town. It is important for skeptics of expanded govt, like myself, to admit that there are times when we need govt and we are lucky to have dedicated people working for us in town.

58 CommonGood August 30, 2011 at 10:52 PM

I find myself disagreeing with Mr. Hamilton more often than I agree with him, but in this case I wholeheartedly agree – and I don’t share Mr. Rooney’s skepticism about the utilities’ performance during and after Irene.

Mr. Hamilton, kudos for a well-stated post about the situation the utilities were dealing with and how they handled it. For my part, I thought the electric utility companies have done (and are continuing to do) a very good job, and I’m also not one to normally compliment them. It makes sense that crews generally won’t be out during such a storm, so as to reserve resources for life-threatening situations, so as to not risk the safety of the crews, and so as to not repair things only to have them possibly re-damaged. They appeared to mobilize quickly once the storm subsided, and were likely not able to draw in as many extra resources from surrounding states since Irene was such a widespread storm that every bordering state had severe outages of their own to deal with.

I was without power for about 40 hours -the longest I have ever been without power in my life, which I feel is not too much to complain about in the big scheme of things – and yet I still feel they did a good job in dealing with the extent of damage with which they had to contend. I also echo the thanks to the town emergency services employees who worked long and well during and after the storm.

These types of events should cause us all to reflect on how dependent we are on energy, what is important in the big picture, and how fortunate we all are regarding things we too often take for granted.

59 Martha August 29, 2011 at 9:09 PM

This blog has been invaluable during this storm. Both of my kids are following you on Twitter as well. Hoping for power on south side of town soon.

60 Sherri August 29, 2011 at 9:30 PM

Power is still out on parkerville south of rt9

61 still out here August 29, 2011 at 9:53 PM

Sherri – sounds like nothing has been restored south of Rt.9 (or really even south of Rt. 30). East of Oak Hill (by the Mobil station) seems to be OK. It’s just our little corner that is still waiting.

62 JC August 29, 2011 at 9:35 PM

We just got our power back on Strawberry Hill around 4:15. I feel pretty lucky this time around. In 1985 I lived in Hopkinton when Hurricane Gloria struck and it was a very bad experience. It blew the shingles off one side of my roof, ruining the roof and causing damage in the attic and ceilings. The cellar flooded and 8 trees fell in the yard, including a huge Maple. It missed my car by inches. It was about a week before the electricity was restored. It was another few weeks before I had the whole mess cleaned up. I think we just experienced a 1 in 25 year storm, and I think it was worse than Gloria because of the significant rain (Gloria only had an inch or two…. I’m not sure how much we had but I’d guess 5 or 6 inches).

63 David August 29, 2011 at 9:39 PM

How come no-one has organized a community “bbq everything in your fridge before it goes bad” gathering?

64 3rd generation August 29, 2011 at 10:30 PM

middle road- south side- LIGHTS!

65 David August 29, 2011 at 10:32 PM

Hurrah! Parkerville South of rt9 by Finn JUST turned on.

66 Steve Coldwell August 29, 2011 at 10:47 PM

Huzzah! Parkerville north of Rte. 9 (across from Neary) is up and running!

67 O'Connors August 29, 2011 at 11:06 PM

Great job on the local updates!

We were dealing with a back up sump that ran out of battery life and two kids who had not yet known life without computer games or Nickolodean, in other words, we were desperate for some Southboro news. And emerges as the absolute life line for relevant updates! Kudos Susan, you gave us hope in our dark time :)

68 Martha August 30, 2011 at 2:32 AM

Power on Darlene Drive!

69 Trixie August 30, 2011 at 6:08 AM

Just want to let folks know that that as of last night Southville Rd into Ashland is impassable a few houses past Rose Garden. Large tree and many power lines in road. No signage other than some homemade barriers put up by frustrated homeowners. Many, many cars head down that way and have to make a U turn. Apparently there is some kind of stand off between the state, the town of Ashland, NStar, NGrid etc.

70 Pat Q August 30, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Thanks for that notice Trixie. Many drivers from yesterday afternoon
and on were diverted through our neighborhood and most, if not all, were going at
a good clip due to their frustration, I’m sure. They are not properly re-routed
by any detour signs and end up speeding through the neighborhood trying to get out. Not a safe situation given that all the kids have been outside playing since they can’t play video games!

Regardless of any stand off, there should be signs for safety reasons.

71 SouthboroDave August 30, 2011 at 6:12 AM

Power was restored to St. Matthews church and Highland Ave around 4.30am!

72 Steve Ulfelder August 30, 2011 at 6:46 AM

Susan, I just have to thank you for your blogging and tweeting. Our entire family obsessively followed your Twitter feed throughout the storm, hollering updates back and forth. Finally regained power at 2:15am!

73 AD Miller August 30, 2011 at 8:36 AM

Power has yet to return to the majority of Oregon Rd.; still a tree leaning on the wires and a pole even though we and other neighbors have called National Grid many times. Yesterday they at least drove down our road for the first time since the storm ended.

74 Route 85 August 30, 2011 at 9:27 AM

We got power back at around 2:30 this morning! Yayyyyy!

75 Ravi V August 30, 2011 at 9:46 AM

Any idea if homes in Summit Road have power?

76 Mark Ford August 30, 2011 at 10:05 AM


Our section of Woodland (near Rte 9) back up at 9:15. Showers for everyone!

We should have a town-wide potluck as we use up all our thawed food…lol…

77 Linda August 30, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Susan, we just wanted to thank you for the information you provided to the residents of Southborough on Hurricane Irene through your blog, Facebook page and twitter account. It was the only source of information that we had that we could count on during the power outage and we were grateful for it. National Grid should be sharply criticized for their horrendous lack of communication. Why provide a website if you’re not going to provide updates? What my husband and I don’t understand is why the power went out (9:48 A.M.) for us on Sunday before the brunt of the storm was even here? We have been here 23 years and have never lost our power for more than a few hours. Then to loose it for two days with no idea as to when it might return except for a computerized telephone call from National Grid saying it could be days or even a week???? The local news stations and weather reports should also be sharply criticized as well as they were just as useless in communicating any information for Worcester County and western Mass. All they focused on was Boston, Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and tidal surges. The rest of the state didn’t seem to matter to them. We were so frustrated with seeing nothing but coastal shots or hearing the weather people talk about tidal surges that we ended turning the TV news and weather off. Case in point – while the Governor was giving his news conference and talking about the horrendous conditions in the western part of the state the news station was running a slideshow insert of pictures of coastal damage????? So, from the bottom of our hearts we want to thank you for your coverage. It provided a source of comfort during a really stressful period and we thank you for that.

78 Pat Q August 30, 2011 at 10:48 AM

“Ditto” everything you said LInda.

My mother lives in a coastal town and her power was restored by 9pm, Sunday night! The coastal towns were given lots of the attention even though the path of Irene was more central/western Mass.

When we did have electricity, I turned the t.v. off after we watched a ridiculous reporter fully decked out in all-weather hurricane gear standing at some intersection with his legs at a stance expecting to be blown off his feet at any moment………..while some pedestrians (dressed in the more appropriate t-shirts, shorts and sandals) were dancing behind the reporter clearly mocking him. It was quite comical and a great example of how “tragedy hungry” some of these networks are. We had a good laugh and turned the t.v. off.

79 Barbara August 30, 2011 at 1:03 PM


I have to also “ditto” what Linda and Pat Q said. This was so informative and a great resource to have during the storm. Many many thanks to you for all the information and updates you got out to us during the storm and while waiting for our power to return. Thank you again.

80 Mark Ford August 30, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Reminds me of Michele Kosinski canoeing through a flood zone, only to have two guys in boots walk in front of her…

81 I'm just sayin'.... August 30, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Priceless!!! News media blooper of the greatest kind!!! And they wonder why their credibility is questioned :-)

82 Pat Q August 30, 2011 at 5:24 PM

now THAT was funny…..thanks Mark!

83 Yiwei August 30, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Our power was just on about 9:15AM this morning (Tuesday) after 48 hours with no power. Susan-Your blog and twitter has become my only information source for hope. Big thanks to you!!!

84 CRD August 30, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Susan, thanks for all the updates, We really appreciate it and I can tell you a lot of people were following your blog and twitters.

A big thanks for all of us here in Southborough.

85 I'm just sayin'.... August 30, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Yes, indeed, thank you so very much, Susan! It was wonderful having accurate information available. Our power came on sometime in the wee hours…I am not exactly sure as apparently I must have been in a deep sleep when it happened…or at least, I think so, as I never heard any of the beeps associated with the power being restored! (Whatever happened to having a clock in our house that showed what time the electricity went off and then started again when it comes back on-it was so easy to figure it out then!) So, when I went down the check on the food in the freezer, I really wasn’t sure if some of it had gotten warm and then started to get cold again and refreeze :-( So, when in doubt, throw it out! Luckily, we did not have much in there and nothing earth shattering had to go into the trash.

All in all, I think we fared very well…only lost two apple trees, and of course, lots of leaves, dead wood, etc., but basement dry and nothing fell on our house or our daughter’s car (she came from Newton to stay with us..HA! She never lost power there, so would have been better off staying put…oh well, it was great having her here with us!!)

I think we should all be very thankful as we could have had so much more damage…I think of what happens to Haiti and other islands, New Orleans and other U.S. cities and realize that being without electricity for 2 days really wasn’t so bad after all….thank you God!!!

86 Ravi V August 30, 2011 at 1:15 PM


Thanks for all this information. Any updates on the Summit Road/ Fairview avenue situation?


87 Jim M August 30, 2011 at 1:20 PM

I just got word that Sarsenstone Way is back up a little while ago. That’s pretty close. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t the same fix.

88 Ravi V August 30, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Thanks Jim.

89 Ravi V August 30, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Power is on at Summit Road…

90 Southside Gadsden Flyer August 30, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Gilmore back on, after National Grid warned of Sept 2 restoration date. Very relieved!

91 jzp August 31, 2011 at 8:28 AM

High ridge had power, but went dark 06.40 and service restoration claims to be 4 September.

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