Glocester wells off with electricity as National Grid wraps repairs

NATIONAL GRID RHODE ISLAND says it expects to have power restored in many communities by 2 p.m. Friday, and in Providence County by 7 p.m. / BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/STEVE HOCKSTEIN
NATIONAL GRID RHODE ISLAND says it expects to have power restored in many communities by 2 p.m. Friday, and in Providence County by 7 p.m. / BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/STEVE HOCKSTEIN

GLOCESTER – By 5:30 p.m. Thursday, National Grid reported about 7,549 people in Rhode Island were without electrical service after a nor’easter dumped heavy snow and knocked down trees in rural parts of the state, including Glocester, Wednesday evening. For the 1,493 of those without power in the town, where everyone uses wells, it meant they were also without running water.

The nor’easter was the second such storm to strike Rhode Island this month, following the March 2 bomb cyclone, which at its peak left more than 150,000 Rhode Island customers without power.

The utility estimates many of the remaining customers in the state without power due to Wednesday’s storm will have electricity restored to their homes by 2 p.m. Friday, and 7 p.m. Friday for those in Providence County, including Glocester. The cleanup continues as Accuweather forecasts the possibility of another storm that may head up the East Coast early next week.

“We are continuing to track the forecast for next week,” said National Grid spokesman Ted Kresse.

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Kresse said 140 line crews had been deployed around the state on Thursday afternoon, some of them already stationed in certain towns after dealing with last week’s storm. In Massachusetts, there were 600 line crews and more than 230 tree crews deployed, according to National Grid.

Fortunately, said Edward C. Burlingame, Town Council vice president, National Grid, forewarned following criticism of its response to the Oct. 29, 2017, storm, has responded appropriately to keep his fellow townspeople a priority during the March 2 and most recent storms.

“I think they did a much better job,” Burlingame said. He said he was impressed by the utility’s preparedness and proactive approach, which included robo-calls to warn townspeople about the likelihood of power outages and about the danger of downed wires. The linesmen deployed to Glocester have remained in the area, Burlingame said, which he considers a comforting sign.

Also, he said, National Grid has been much more responsive to the plight of people in Glocester without power and water. Burlingame credits much of the utility’s more effective response to the work of Gerald Mosca, director of Glocester Emergency Management.

While the storm left Providence with just a few inches of snow that quickly melted, it left rural towns reeling. As of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, only Glocester was still enforcing a parking ban, while six towns around the state ended such bans at noon.

Glocester’s regional schools canceled classes, said Mosca.

“The heavy snow took down trees that didn’t come down in the last storm,” Mosca said. Those took down power lines, creating outages.

“We had a real, real serious issue with trees down,” said Burlingame, adding numerous large trees fell across several roads.

Kresse said National Grid spends millions on tree trimming annually to mitigate such damage by keeping branches away from power lines.

Mosca said he is grateful to the R.I. Emergency Management Agency, which supplied the town with an order of cots just in case it is forced to open an emergency shelter Thursday evening. For now, the fire department is open to those without power in need of a shower, he said.

Kate Talerico is a PBN contributing writer.