By Doug La Rocque
Petersburgh, like Grafton, received 18 to 20 inches of heavy wet snow last Friday, March 2. The falling trees and branches brought down by the heavy snow knocked power out to large portions of both towns. The difference was, most of Grafton, served by National Grid, had power restored later that day or early Saturday. In Petersburgh, were New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) is the primary provider, many of the rural areas did not see service restored until late Monday, March 5, and some lingering spots not until Tuesday.
Why the delay? Petersburgh Supervisor Alan Webster says it was mostly due to a communications failure. He tells The Eastwick Press NYSEG’s computer reporting system was down, forcing them to relay on hundreds of phone calls, many of which were apparently never properly recorded. This meant that in some cases, the utility was not aware of the service outages. It took a lot of work on the part of Supervisor Webster and other town officials to finally get things coordinated. And when NYSEG repair crews did start showing up, they found more damage then they anticipated, often in hard to access areas.
More Communication is Needed
Now that this crisis is over, Mr. Webster says he has made it very clear to NYSEG, his desire for much improved lines of communication, both with the towns residents (their customers) and with the town itself. He feels this is the key to preventing a repeat occurrence, and his keeping his fingers crossed about the next pending Noreaster.
Looking Out For Each Other
Through out the power outages, the constant according to Supervisor Webster, was neighbors looking out for each other. He says all through the effected areas, people where checking on those around them, especially the elderly, inviting people without alternative sources of heat into their homes to warm up and have a hot meal. The town hall was also opened as a warming station as needed.