By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—Thousands of National Grid customers in Brockton and across the South Shore are still without electrical power and one family’s West Elm Street home was destroyed by fire during a blizzard that dropped more than two feet of heavy, wet snow throughout the region.
Mayor Linda Balzotti said National Grid was completely unprepared for the storm and as a result, 8,800 residents in Brockton and surrounding towns were still without power by mid-afternoon Monday and many had at that time gone without electricity for about 12 hours.
“They did an abysmal job,” Balzotti said. “They were completely unprepared and didn’t have nearly enough crews on to handle this storm,” she said.
National Grid spokeswoman Deborah Drew said crews have been working hard to restore power to the more than 26,000 National Grid customers who lost power.
“They will be working through the night,” Drew said.
Drew said National Grid officials gave area public officials—most notably South Shore fire officials--a verbal apology for what has been considered a less than stellar response in dealing with the power outages.
(National Grid Power Outage map as of 4:51 p.m. Monday, Dec. 27. To view the map, which is updated every 15 minutes, click here to visit National Grid's website)
“We have been in touch with all of the fire chiefs on the South Shore to discuss the status of the restoration, apologize for the problems we had, and work with them to free up their crews and get everyone's power back as soon as possible,” Drew said.
Plymouth County and the South Shore are areas that were hit the hardest by the blizzard. National Grid customers were affected in nearly every South Shore town from Abington to Brockton to Whitman and to West Bridgewater.
Statistics on National Grid’s website show Plymouth County as having 11,148 households without electricity—the most highly affected county in National Grid’s service area.
Brockton had more than 2,000 homes without electricity. Bridgewater had 1,764, and West Bridgewater 2,843.
Drew said National Grid did have some issues during this storm because of the huge number of wires that came down. She said about 500 wires fell down overnight on the South Shore alone.
A major problem, Drew said, was that a transmission line in Dighton went down and affected a large region.
She said restoring power Monday morning into the afternoon had become difficult because in many areas snow was still coming down and technicians were having difficulty accessing equipment.
“They are facing many challenges—the snow is still coming down and the wind is still blowing,” Drew said.
Drew said many residents may not have their electricity back until late Monday or Tuesday morning.
She said people without power should consider making alternate plans for the evening if residents are without power or heat because there is no way of telling when some of the towns experiencing power outages will have electricity restored.
Drew said while National Grid’s focus remains on restoring customers as quickly as possible, the company has committed to work with the Plymouth County fire chiefs after the storm to ensure National Grid improves it’s performance from now on.
Drew noted this storm is one of the worst in at least 5 years and the company has crews from three states working on downed wires and trying to restore power.
The Blizzard of 2010—as many are calling it—began Sunday morning.
Several inches had fallen by the afternoon and the overnight into Monday morning was marked by driving winds with gusts up to 60 mph and heavy, wet snow that bent over branches, downed wires and toppled trees.
Coastal communities were hit hard during the night, especially Scituate where National Guard members helped some residents evacuate when high tides flooded homes at about 3 a.m. Scituate firefighters also waded into water up to their waists when two homes caught fire following electrical problems.
Brockton Deputy Fire Chief Michael Williams said a tree to the left side of a house at 257 West Elm Street, fell under the weight of the snow and as it crashed down into the house the tree took down with it an electrical wire that sparked a blaze that destroyed the house this morning around 7:15 a.m.
“It’s a total loss,” Williams said.
He said the adult son of the owners was staying at the house while his parents were on vacation.
Williams said the young man is fine and no one was hurt, but the house—a two-and-half-story Victorian more than a 100-years-old--is expected to be razed Tuesday.
Monday afternoon two workers put boards on the windows and the doors. The roof was almost completely gone and the interior of the house completely gutted.
Williams said firefighters were also busy responding to calls for downed wires. He said firefighters received more than 100 calls from midnight Monday to about 2 p.m. and 95 percent of them were for downed electrical, cable or telephone wires.
While many people suffered power outages and other calamities during the storm, others like Nilton Gomes, a 31-year-old Brunswick Street resident (pictured above ) who was taking his time shoveling out three cars from in front of his house—seemed to like the blizzard.
“It’s not that bad,” Gomes said.