On the heels of Monday’s winter storm, cleanup and power restoration efforts continued throughout the North Central region on Tuesday.
According to data from Unitil, there were 391 customers in Ashby without power, 117 in Fitchburg, 47 in Lunenburg and 337 in Townsend as of 9:10 p.m. The utility company estimated power would be restored for those customers between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday.
In a press release Tuesday night, Unitil said a majority of its customers would have power restored by midday Wednesday, but some isolated pockets would extend into Thursday. An additional storm expected to hit Wednesday night could also delay those efforts further.
“This estimated restoration time is based on our known issues identified during damage assessment and the expected amount of time it will take to restore power based on the conditions that we currently see in the field,” Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O’Meara said. “What is unknown is the impact of another storm forecasted to reach the region [Wednesday] afternoon. This storm has the potential to not only slow work, but cause new system issues that would extend the effort.”
For the region’s other power provider, National Grid, outages also persisted Tuesday. Data at 9:10 p.m. showed 12 customers in Leominster, 272 in Pepperell and 658 in Westminster remained without power. The company estimated service would be restored by noon on Wednesday.
As many Fitchburg residents found themselves without power on Monday night, the city opened the Senior Center on Wallace Avenue as an emergency shelter. Mayor Stephen DiNatale said one person utilized the space, which had sleeping cots available. He said it was important residents knew they had a place they could go to stay warm.
“We can open that up with within an hour and a half,” DiNatale said, adding that the city would keep the option on the table moving forward.
The center was deactivated “until further notice” later on Tuesday.
Given the difficult circumstances, DiNatale said Fitchburg stood ready to be a good neighbor. He said he had spoken with officials in Ashby about providing shelter throughout Monday, as the town dealt with widespread power outages. However, he said the town was able to get its own site up and running.
“I told folks on our end, we’ll do anything to help them out,” he said.
DiNatale added the city still had 50 pieces of equipment available between its own assets and private contractors. While people were understandably tired, he felt they continued to do a great job.
Crews will have little time to catch their breath as the National Weather Service forecasts another storm for Wednesday which could bring an additional 3-7 inches of snow accumulation.
“I just want to make sure we can come out on the other side, without any severe loss of loss of property or more importantly, people,” DiNatale said.
DiNatale said he understood people were frustrated with the time it was taking for power to return. However, he noted Unitil had done a good job of managing vegetation along the power lines throughout the year.
“As people are upset that they’re without power, and I don’t blame them, it would be even worse if they hadn’t had the aggressive vegetation removal plan that they’ve incorporated for a number of years now,” DiNatale said.