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Hundreds in New Hampshire Remain Without Power After Pre-Christmas Storm

While the broken branches and snapped utility poles across New England have largely been cleaned up and the multi-day power outages have become a distant memory, one region of New Hampshire is still in the thick of the pre-Christmas storm recovery.

The islands of Lake Winnipeaukee were among the hardest hit by the intense winds. There are over 250 individual islands across the lake and dozens of them have residences on them. The second biggest island in the lake, Bear Island, has over 200 residences along the scenic shoreline. Many of these homes are vacation homes, but there are year round residents as well. This island sustained significant tree and utility damage during the storm. Over a dozen poles snapped in the near hurricane force wind gusts on December 23.

Utility crews have been on the island all this week, working to replace poles and string up wires. Restoration has been tedious and very slow due to the logistical problems of this kind of damage on an isolated island. No roads connect Bear Island to the mainland. This has forced New Hampshire Electric Co-op to bring supplies and repair tools to the island via barges. With damage so extensive, a large amount of equipment had to be transported to the island.

A communications manager for the company said that a barge had to be loaded with 20 utility poles, a derrick and a track vehicle. Another big issue for the company other than the fact that barges are needed to reach the island is that the roads on the island are very rough, as there is not much of a reason to drive around the island via car. So once the crews actually get to the island, transporting poles around the island becomes another challenge.

Much of the damage on Bear Island is at the southern end, which is yet another challenge for Bear Island, as well as the smaller islands around. The southern end of the island is the area that feeds power to the other islands. About 570 customers were without power at the start of this week, as of Friday, it is down to just over 300. Earlier this week, power was restored to the north section of Bear Island, with the whole island being back online later in the week. Once that happens, power will be able to flow to several smaller islands.

Crews now can begin turning their attention to two other larger islands in Rattlesnake and Sleeper islands. Once those islands are up and running once again, the remaining islands of Dow, Little Bear, Chase and Whortleberry can begin the restoration process. The crews are in a race against time now, as January takes hold. The lake will be freezing solid, and when that happens, that will slow the process that much more.

Weather permitting, full restoration of the Lake Winnipesaukee islands is expected by next week. The full time residents of the island are prepared for this kind of situation, they have to be. Residents have shown support for crews during this exceptionally challenging effort. New Hampshire Electric Co-op is truly in a unique restoration effort, and they seem up to the task.




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