Rooney: National Grid understaffed for storm response; Halloween will not be canceled

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.

John Rooney

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John Kendall
11 years ago

NStar appeared to “have it all together” today. LOTS of out-of-state crews being led by NStar from Southborough to Ashland and points east. In comparison, I have only seen a couple of National Grid trucks around. It’s quite obvious that they still don’t get it. And a reminder – don’t be mad at the line crews….they are working their butts off. Be mad at the problem…senior management at National Grid.

11 years ago

The Town of Southborough should seriously consider delaying Halloween till the weekend. The streets are covered in piles of wet leaves with many, many, large broken branches. As of this evening there are dangling wires and broken trees that have yet to be removed from many properties. The streets without power also have no street lights. Why not take a few more days for homeowners to assess the damage on their property and repair or remove debris and damaged trees? The children don’t care if they trick or treat on a Wednesday night or a Saturday night. Safety is more important.

11 years ago

School is on for tomorrow according to email from Charles Gobron- how do we know how the buses will be running? Our road is still blocked with huge tree down on Deerfoot- the buses will not be able to get through that way.

Annette Flaherty
11 years ago

I’ve heard that Southborough has a conservation policy that restricts National Grid’s ability to prune trees in town?

If that is the case, shouldn’t we revisit this policy given the issues our residents have experienced over the last three storms with extended power outages? We experienced two 3-day outages during last year’s storms and most people I know in town have been affected by at least one of the storms. Hoping that everyone still without power will have it restored ASAP. Trees growing into or over power lines are a bit ridiculous. Thanks.

11 years ago

What’s the normal trick-or-treating time in Southborough? It it set? Thanks!

Neil Rossen
11 years ago

The politician’s involvement is simply for self-promotion. Both sides of the aisle. Really proforma stuff. Why the praise?

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