The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 18, 2014

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State of emergency declared for Vermont

Photo courtesy of Green Mountain Power
A bucket brigade rolls into the Highgate, Vt. border crossing, greeted by the early morning sunrise. The utility line crews from Canada have been called to join forces with GMP as Sandy approaches.


Governor Peter Shumlin declared a State of Emergency for Vermont in advance of the storm, Sunday, Oct. 28. The designation will allow the state to use National Guard and other federal resources if needed.

Rutland is predicted to be among the places hit hardest in Vermont, the governor said. In preparation, Rutland City school administrators canceled classes, Monday.

While Sandy is expected to lose it's hurricane classification by the time it reaches Vermont, Shumlin said the state was preparing for the worst. He advised that this storm would be different from Irene as high winds are expected to cause the most damage, not water. Shumlin instead compared Sandy to a 2007 storm, which caused thousands of trees to fall and cut off power to thousands- except Sandy will be wider-reaching.

The National Weather Service (NWS) says 60-80 mile per hour wind gusts are expected along the Green Mountains. Only 2-4 inches of rain are expected to fall, although localized flooding is possible especially where the rain is heaviest. NWS says the southern half of Vermont is expected to be the most susceptible to flooding.

If necessary, the public should call 2-1-1 for shelter information, evacuation information and other disaster resources. The Vermont Emergency Operations Center was fully staffed on Monday morning and plans to remain open as long as necessary.
Shumlin and state officials report that they have prepared for the onset of the storm by coving all their bases, including:

•    Conference calls with legislators and city Mayors.
•    Vermont State Police have put all personnel on road duty and will put more and more Troopers on the road as the storm ramps up.
•    540 maintenance workers from the Agency of Transportation are in the field with chainsaws ready to clear roads.
•    Chainsaw crews from the Agency of Natural Resources are on standby to help with clearing of debris.
•    Swiftwater and technical rescue crews will be staged as necessary.
•    State police mobile command posts are on standby for quick deployment when needed.
•    State utilities have brought in extra line crews from out of state to help with restoration efforts.
•    The National Guard is prepared to assist with tree clearing, swiftwater rescues, or any other missions deemed necessary.
•    The Red Cross is prepared to open shelters should homes lose power for extended periods - a listing of shelters will be shared with the media once they open.

Green Mountain Power storm managers, line crews and support staff were also making final preparations prior to Hurricane Sandy, which has already left a trail of devastation.

"Crews are sharpening their chain saws, stowing overnight gear in their trucks and preparing for the worst, even as we hope for the best," GMP spokesman Jeremy Baker said. "Dozens of crews have arrived from as far away as Tennessee, and dozens more will arrive today from as far away as Florida, Quebec and Ontario."

The latest weather forecasts suggest there will almost certainly be extensive damage as high winds whip across higher terrain, through mountain passes where they will pick up speed, and onto valley floors.

"This storm should be taken very seriously by all Vermonters," Baker said. "We have made extensive preparations, and we're ready to respond once the damage begins to unfold, but the damage could be substantial. We will restore power as quickly as we can safely do so."

Green Mountain Power secured more than 250 outside line workers and tree trimmers to assist in restoring power to customers and communities. They will work with more than 140 GMP line workers, 130 contract tree trimmers normally working for GMP, and hundreds of support staff.

Every employee at GMP, totaling nearly 700, is on alert and prepared to help customers and communities while we collectively deal with Hurricane Sandy.

GMP offers the following advice:
Treat any downed line as if it is live. Report the line to your local utility and fire department, stay at least 50 feet away from the line, and keep children and pets away as well.

Never operate a generator inside any structure or near a structure. Use a transfer switch to ensure electricity is not accidentally fed onto a line where line crews must work.

Keep freezers and refrigerators closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage.

If power goes out, turn off all electrical appliances except one light so you'll know when service returns. Then, turn equipment back on slowly.

Never use grills inside garages, sheds or other buildings, as the fumes can be poisonous.

The forecast can be found at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/btv/

Look for live updates as the storm progresses at www.mountaintimes.info

In case of an emergency dial: 911

For shelter information, evacuation information, and other disaster resources dial: 2-1-1

Road Closures dial: 5-1-1 or www.511vt.com

Downed power line: contact your local utility