A Power Outage in Worcester

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    Tuesday, July 9, 2013

    “WORCESTER — After going without power for almost 24 hours Monday into Tuesday afternoon, Grafton Hill residents barely had time to appreciate the restored electricity before it went out again Tuesday night.

    Jackie Barry, a National Grid spokeswoman, said the second outage, affecting about 300 customers, occurred about 6 p.m., and everyone’s power was restored by 7:30 p.m.

    She said the outage was caused by an overloaded circuit on the line. Crews fixed it by installing larger fuses, she said.

    “We apologize to our customers that there was another outage and we worked as quickly as we could to get the power back on and try to limit the inconvenience.”

    The second outage compounded the frustration of Grafton Hill residents who had already been without electricity for almost 24 hours.

    Some residents on the block without power said they relied on public assistance and would not be able to replace the food they lost during the lengthy first outage. They were also upset about the utility’s rolling and inadequate estimate of how long the power would be out.

    Brian Sinkus of Barclay Street said many in the area were told by National Grid that they would have had the power restored by the end of Monday.

    “If they told us it was going to be days, I would have moved my food,” Mr. Sinkus said.

    David Graves, another spokesman for National Grid, said Tuesday morning the company ran into unforeseen complications and was unable to restore power by a noon deadline.

    “My refrigerator stinks,” said Patricia Pulsifer, who lives on the second floor of a three-decker on Barclay Street. She called National Grid around 2 on Monday afternoon to let them know about the outage.

    “At 2 they told me it would be fixed by 4:15. I called at 5 and they said 7. At 8:30 they told me midnight. At 4 this morning, they told me 7. At 8:30 I called and they said noon.”

    For reasons unclear, a pole carrying a large transformer in the Mendon Street area came down early Monday afternoon, causing 235 National Grid customers to lose power, according to Mr. Graves. Utility crews were able to isolate the immediate problem, and power was restored to 125 customers by about 6 p.m.

    However, when crews went to energize the line, they discovered a fault in an underground cable.

    “They found one of the neighbors had built a stone wall over the underground conduit,” Mr. Graves said.

    Electricity was ultimately restored about 1 p.m. Tuesday, only to have it go out against about five hours later.

    Ms. Pulsifer said she received her public assistance funds on Monday and had just done a big shopping.

    “All my food has spoiled,” she said. “I’d like to know who is going to reimburse me.”

    The frustration for many, according to Mr. Sinkus, is that National Grid repeatedly told customers that the repairs would be made on Monday.

    “If they could have told us,” Mr. Sinkus said. “People could have saved their food somehow. It’s tough for many, a lot of us don’t even have transportation.”

    Darcelle Clark and her sister, Jessica Lamboy, live with their five children under the age of 7 in an apartment on Barclay Street. Ms. Lamboy said they are on welfare and all three of her children have health issues.

    “It’s horrible,” Ms. Clark said. “We stayed outside late (Monday) night, and had to buy candles. The fridge is already leaking.”

    Ms. Clark said one of her sister’s children has asthma and they can’t plug in the machine for treatment.

    “It’s scary,” Ms. Clark said.”

    You can imagine the comments this article generated. Although the specific reason was given(a neighborhood resident constructing a wall) I’m very surprised that more power outages haven’t happened given the stifling heat and humidity we’ve been experiencing.

    Power outages can always be expected for various reasons. They happen.

    Given the current grid infrastructure I really wonder why people don’t consider this as eventually happening to them and properly prepare for it.
    Yes, we can live without power for an extended period of time; it wouldn’t be pleasant, and the longest power outage we’ve had was nearly two years ago here in central MA in late October. We were prepared.

    What will people do if the power goes out for much, much longer? I shudder to think about it.

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