One-third of Vermonters were without power Monday after an unusually widespread wind and rain storm overnight, state officials said.
There are no storm-related injuries or fatalities, Gov. Phil Scott said, and no hospitals or nursing homes were affected. However, numerous roads remained closed, 70,000 homes and businesses remained without power, and it could take until the weekend to fully restore service, officials warned.
Forecasts of strong winds Monday night could cause more outages and deliver a knockout blow to an already wobbly electrical grid. Officials described the gusty, soggy conditions as a potential "multiday" event.
"This isn't over," Scott said during a press conference at the Department of Public Safety in Waterbury. "This is just the first day."
The Red Cross is prepared to open emergency shelters if needed, and officials urged residents to call 211 if they need a place to stay.
Restoring power will be difficult because the storm did not hit one particular region especially hard. Instead, the strong winds sent trees tumbling and severed power lines in virtually all corners of Vermont.
A large tree crushed a car and took down power lines in Burlington's Lakeside neighborhood.
Inside the Vermont emergency operations center, a color-coded state map tracked outages in different areas. The entire map was colored red on Monday afternoon, Scott said, the first time officials recalled that happening.
"Generally in Vermont, we get some communities harder hit than others, but this was really unusual, it really hit an entire region," Green Mountain Power president and CEO Mary Powell said. "That makes it a challenge."
Green Mountain Power has 500 crew members working to return power to 40,000 homes and businesses, Powell said. The state's largest utility had 70,000 locations without power at the height of the storm, she added.
Work has been slowed by a dearth of help from crews outside of the state. The storm hit all of New England and nearby utilities have no crews to spare. In neighboring New Hampshire, more than 250,000 people were without power Monday.
"We're doing this on our own," Vermont Electric Cooperative president and CEO Christine Hallquist said.
Courtesy: Laura Abbene
A dog walking in storm-damaged Indian Brook Park in Essex
Among those without power is Scott, who said he will rely on a generator to keep his Berlin home running. The governor said the state is likely to qualify for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, though no request has been made.
The Green Mountain Audubon Center in Huntington shut down indefinitely on Monday after a tree slammed into its office and debris rendered trails on its property impassable.
Mount Mansfield registered wind speeds of 115 miles per hour at the height of the storm, while gusts in excess of 60 miles per hour hit Burlington International Airport.