Thousands Lose Power in Vermont as Snow Keeps Falling

The outages were reported in every county in the state

A nor'easter brought heavy, wet snow to Vermont Tuesday and into Wednesday, canceling school in many communities and leaving tens of thousands of Vermonters without power. Utilities called in extra line crews to restore power to those customers, but they expected outage numbers to get worse before they got better, because of more snow that was falling late Wednesday.

Kerry Skiffington of Bristol, Vermont was one of those customers who lost power Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, she had the back-straining work of clearing heavy, wet snow from her driveway. "I'm smart enough to have a short driveway," she said, laughing.

Skiffington's driveway and covered car were the least of her problems. "The power's a much bigger deal," she said. "Now it's like-- What are we going to do all day?"

The snow was just so sticky and weighty, it bent and snapped trees, knocking out power lines and poles in communities pretty much statewide. New England Cable News observed tree trimmers cutting back branches that had fallen into or above Rt. 17 heading toward Lincoln.

Green Mountain Power spokeswoman Dotty Schnure said the utility called in extra line crews from Canada and from around New England to help the restoration work. GMP was expecting more headaches, with another blast of wet snow on top of the bulk from the first round already stressing trees.

"We'll keep working to get people back on, but there will be new outages," Schnure said. "And we expect to be continuing to work restoring power into Saturday."

As plow crews attacked the sloppy mess on the roads, Main Street braced for a business impact. Midday Wednesday in downtown Bristol, businesses on one side of the street had electricity, while the storefronts directly across the street did not.

"We probably are the best situated to be able to handle a situation like this," said Bonita Bedard, who co-owns Vermont HoneyLights, a store which did not have power in the morning and into the afternoon Wednesday.

Vermont HoneyLights makes and sells molded beeswax candles, so was well-equipped to open using just candlelight. But Bedard said the critical holiday shopping season is not when store owners want to see interruptions to customers' shopping patterns.

"Somebody said, 'Well, how are you going to take money?' and I said, 'Oh I can always take money,'" Bedard told NECN, explaining she was accepting cash or checks, or telling customers she knew well to return another day to pay off an IOU. "It's a little chilly because we don't have any heat, but other than that, it's working out well."

If there was a silver lining to be found to the wet snow, it may just be that it made for really good snowman-making. NECN observed several snowmen around Bristol that had smiles on their faces, even if their creators experienced a rough and cold day.

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