Hurricane Sandy takes down power lines in Littleton
By Holly Camero / email@example.com
GateHouse News Service
Posted Nov 02, 2012
Hurricane Sandy uprooted six telephone poles on Great Road.
Littleton — Hurricane Sandy dumped wind and rain on Littleton Monday, bringing down trees and power lines and uprooting six telephone poles on Route 119. But the Littleton Electric Light Department, which supplies electricity to the town, responded quickly and in a remarkably short time power was restored to most customers.
The downed power lines cut off power to much of the town.
“Those six poles were holding up three of the five circuits that power the town,” said Savas Danos, Littleton Electric Light Department general manager, something he said has never happened in his 30 years with the department. “If that was a pole line on a side road, only people on that street would have been affected.”
Danos said crews attached guy wires from the poles to utility trucks, to prevent the poles that were still standing from toppling over. Then power was shut off, so line crews could begin to rebuild the lines.
“They rerouted power through the two remaining circuits,” he said, placing everyone on those circuits.
He said IBM and Hewlett-Packard, two of the town’s biggest energy users, were asked to go on generator power so as not to overwhelm the circuits.
“In four hours [crews] re-energized the lines to bring about 60 percent of the people back on line,” Danos noted.
“Between 6 and 7 p.m. all but two trouble spots had been taken care of and a significant number of customers were back on power,” he said.
Then crews concentrated on two other sections of town that had lost power because of “two massive trees that were across the road and across wires – one on Mill Road and another on Taylor Street,” he said.
Once the Highway Department had cleared the trees, crews began to rebuild the lines.
“Just before midnight we were able to complete energizing all three circuits on Great Road,” he said, bringing power to about 80 percent of customers.
Crews worked through the storm and into the night to restore power, stopping at around 2 a.m. to get some sleep.
“We do break for sleep,” Danos said, noting that a few hours of rest “gives us a better response time.”
As of press time, the Light Department was working to restore power to side streets.
“All arms are back in service; we are now working on the fingers and toes and maybe a few hands as of noon today [Tuesday, Oct. 30],” Danos said.
Interim Fire Chief Steele McCurdy said the town “fared fairly well with the exception of power lines on Route 119.”
There was no major flooding, although there were trees down all over town, he said.
“It was windy and rainy,” McCurdy said. “There were quite a few small branches we needed to dodge and the occasional tree in the road that we had to stop and move out of the road. The conditions were what you would expect during a storm of this type.”
McCurdy said that while the shelter at the police station was open, no one had used it.
“We had people checking on the availability of shelters though,” he said.
Both McCurdy and Danos were quick to credit other town departments for helping to restore service to Littleton residents.
“It can’t be accomplished without support and resources from all town departments,” Danos said. It is a concerted effort.”
“The emergency was handled very well by all departments in town,” McCurdy said. “It was a very successful outcome for the storm. It shows the levels of cooperation between all agencies.”
Danos said the quick turnaround time was not “just about restoration.”
“We are constantly upgrading and beefing up the system,” he said. “We put significant resources and money into upgrading the system.”
“We try as best we can to beef it up.”
In addition, Danos said he tries to make sure that for at least 24 hours after a storm, there are people answering the phone, so that customers hear a “comforting voice during this trying time.”
Staying in touch
While crews battled the elements to restore electricity, many residents stayed connected through the Littleton Independent’s Facebook page. People relayed power outages and watched for updates from wickedlocal.com/Littleton.
By 3 p.m. readers had reported power outages on Dogwood, Fort Pond Hill, Surrey, Oak, and Powers roads, as well as on Foster Street, Drover Lane and Shore Drive. The Littleton Electric Light Department even got into the act, posting a link to its website.
When power started to return, people were quick with praise, posting comments such as: “Littleton Electric Light Department is the best” and “Thank you all for putting yourselves at risk in this weather. Power back on. You rock!”