BC-Ice Storm, 1st Ld-Writethru,0492
Ice storm cuts off power to hundreds of thousands
Eds: Updates with N.H. state of emergency, adds detail.
By The Associated Press
An ice storm knocked out power to more than a half-million homes
and businesses in New England and upstate New York, and authorities
say it could take days for all of them to get service back.
The governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire declared states
of emergency Friday morning, and schools were closed and travel
disrupted across the region.
"I urge all New Hampshire citizens to take sensible precautions
and heed all warnings from public officials," New Hampshire Gov.
John Lynch said.
Fire departments in New Hampshire were responding to reports of
transformer explosions, wires and utility poles down and trees
falling on homes.
Gov. Deval Patrick's emergency declaration in Massachusetts
would enable the governor to take further steps, such as mobilizing
the National Guard, if needed as the day wore on, officials said.
State officials do not even know the full extent of the problem
because some towns have municipal utilities, said Peter Judge, a
spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
At least 20 Massachusetts towns declared local states of
emergency even before the governor.
"Stay home if you live in Holden, don't come to Holden if you
work here," Holden, Mass., fire Chief Jack Chandler said. The
entire town was without power and some senior citizens on oxygen
were transported to a hospital or a shelter opened at the town's
Public Service Company of New Hampshire reported an
unprecedented 230,000 customers - nearly half of the homes and
businesses it serves - were without power as of 8 a.m. Friday. The
New Hampshire Electric Cooperative said more than 41,000 of its
homes and businesses also have no power.
Utility officials in New Hampshire said the outages had far
surpassed the infamous ice storm of 1998, when some residents spent
more than a week in the dark.
Around Albany, N.Y., National Grid reported more than 140,000
customers without power. Outages from other utilities brought the
total in the state to more than 225,000.
In Maine, two utilities reported a total of more than 35,000
outages, while in Vermont, Mark Bosma, a spokesman for Vermont
Emergency Management, says more than 22,000 homes and businesses
without power as of 6:30 a.m.
Associated Press writers David Tirrell-Wysocki and Holly Ramer
in Concord, N.H., Mark Pratt in Boston, and Mike Hill in Albany,
N.Y., contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)