In a statement released just a short time ago, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen John Rooney said National Grid is still assessing damage for many of those who remain without power tonight. While Rooney commended National Grid for improvements made after storms a year ago, he said the utility appears to be suffering from “an utter lack of manpower” in its response to Hurricane Sandy.
At last check, 547 National Grid customers were still without power in Southborough, down from more than 900 earlier in the day.
In his statement this evening, Rooney also confirmed Halloween trick-or-treating will go on as scheduled on Wednesday evening, but he asks parents to be extra vigilant for hazards.
Here’s his statement in full.
Good evening, I have two items to update everyone about.
First, I spoke directly at length with National Grid’s Operations Manager about town-specific issues. NG has all the information concerning power outage locations and a list of priority locations (elderly housing, schools, etc.). I can report that NG has nearly completed its emergency list of items (live ground wires, road closures, hospital locations, etc.), but I am sorry to report that NG is still in its “damage assessment” stage, a 24 hour post-storm period assigned to evaluate the extent of damage. They expect to complete that stage later this evening or tomorrow, and only then will we be given Estimated Times of Restoration (ETR). It is my hope that everyone without power will have an ETR sometime tomorrow.
Based upon what we know right now, although NG made positive strides from last year’s storm by placing liaison’s directly in the communities, the level of staffing by NG does not appear to be where it should be. NG has assigned 7 line crews and 13 tree cutting crews to the “Boroughs”, viz., Southborough, Northborough, Westborough and Marlborough. Although I am not one hundred percent certain, I believe a “line crew” consists of one truck with two men. While I profess no training in running a utility, this appears to me to be an utter lack of manpower.
Representative Dykema has been involved throughout the day and continues her involvement at the highest levels of state government. The town greatly thanks her for her active involvement and dedication to our residents. At the local level, your town officials have been in constant contact with NG and continue to do so. I can assure you that we will not end our aggressive interaction with NG until the last outage is fully restored.
Next, the town is NOT cancelling Halloween. There will be an advisory posted on the town website tomorrow that alerts residents to this fact and also advises parents and children to be extra vigilant in their efforts to secure as much sugar as possible. With adequate parental and adult supervision, the hope is that Halloween, a “holiday” most kids put near the top of their list, will proceed uninterrupted for the sake of our kids.
I will continue to provide updates when there is something to update. Stay safe.