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Second winter hit wreaks havoc with power lines

RUTLAND - Old Man Winter's mean and nasty side has been on display throughout many parts of Vermont this week. As local utility crews were dealing with reducing tens of thousands of outages down to a several thousand late Feb. 25, a second hit from a two-punch storm knocked out service to thousands more customers. As of 8 a.m., Feb. 26, about 23,600 CVPS customers were without power.

Widespread outages were scattered across the state, with Addison Bennington, Orange, Rutland, Windham and Windsor counties hardest hit.

"We took a long, hard hit from the first punch of this storm, and this wind certainly adds insult to injury, but we anticipated the damage and secured outside crews to assist us in hitting back," CVPS spokeswoman Christine Rivers said. "Thus far, this storm has caused the highest number of customer outages in our history, outstripping the 2007 Nor'icane. Unlike 2007, this hit a much broader cross-section of our service territory."

The Nor'icane, a wind event similar to the event of Feb. 25, caused 68,000 customer outages, and recovery efforts totaled more than $5 million. So far, 84,800 customer outages have occurred in this week's two-part storm. Crews have restored more than 61,000 customer outages since the storm began.

Many customers are without power for a second time with this two-part storm, as Windham and Windsor counties were hard hit again, and Rutland County saw some of the highest winds, with a gust of 62 mph reported at the Rutland Airport.

"We brought in dozens of outside crews to help, but we face a tremendous challenge in restoring service," Rivers said. "Some of the damage is extensive, and will require intensive efforts to repair, but our crews are committed to doing whatever it takes to restore customers' service. We have a lot of downed trees, tree limbs, and downed lines. We hope to make a lot of progress today, but complete recovery will likely last through the weekend. Restoration efforts may be slowed by over two feet of snow and rough travel conditions."

As part of the restoration effort, CVPS:

CVPS brought in 83 outside two-person line crews and support staff from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and Ontario (Canada), along with 15 tree crews, and other Vermont contract crews. CVPS is delivering midday meals to workers in the field to maximize their work time.

Numerous CVPS retirees have been called up to work to assist in the recovery effort.

The utility is also coordinating efforts with Vermont Emergency Management and other utilities.

CVPS is moving dozens of employees from areas like HR and information systems into storm support roles.

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