Essex County power outages could continue

Power outages may continue through the weekend as cold weather sets in.

The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures to dip to below-zero lows through Christmas, then highs in the 20s through Sunday. In some areas, that means the ice that came with Sunday’s ice storm is likely here to stay for a few days, continuing the threat of trees breaking onto utility lines. Other places have already been warm enough to melt ice from trees.

On Monday morning, there were about 250 electric customers without power in Keene, Wilmington, Jay and Chesterfield, but Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish told the Enterprise it was restored to all customers as of 7:17 that evening.

He said he expects more power outages through the weekend.

The rest of the concerns from Sunday’s storm have subsided. The emergency operations center Essex County set up for it was closed by 10 a.m. Monday morning, and all the flooding along the AuSable River had subsided by then as well. Three ice jams in Keene and Jay, along the East Branch of the river, all moved out by Sunday evening.

The 13 families that were evacuated were back in their homes by Monday, Jaquish said. He said he had been concerned that neighborhoods in AuSable Forks would start to flood, but that worry abated as well. The Red Cross was ready to shelter people who didn’t have a place to stay, but it wasn’t needed.

“They were really geared up well,” Jaquish said.

He noted that all the local organizations and responders who would normally deal with extreme weather events have gotten good at organizing for action when storms are predicted. Spring flooding and Tropical Storm Irene hit the area hard several years ago, and emergency responders prepared heavily for several other storms since then that didn’t end up having as much of an impact.

“We’ve done it several times, and it’s getting the bugs out of it,” Jaquish said. “Not to say we won’t make mistakes, but we’re a lot better at it than we were in ’98 when the ice storm hit,” the most severe ice storm in recent memory.

Jaquish said that as people keep pumping carbon dioxide into the air, people in his line of work are going to have to get used to more and more extreme weather events.