Dangerous weather conditions Friday had state leaders in Vermont urging people to be home by late afternoon, and to stay home, with a flash freeze expected to make travel treacherous.
Power companies worked through the day to restore lost service, after ferocious winds — some gusts up to 70 miles an hour — lashed Vermont, toppling trees.
Electricity providers warned tens of thousands of ratepayers knocked offline it could be a multi-day power restoration process.
“I want to make sure that folks know that if they are out of power today, it is likely they will be out of power for more than one day,” warned Rebecca Towne of Vermont Electric Coop.
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Since those outages were overlapping with a sharp drop in temperatures, public safety officials reminded Vermonters left in the dark to ensure any generators are well-vented and to not use fire where it doesn’t belong — as in, don’t use it to heat up water pipes.
“So this year, for the holidays, give the gift of safety,” urged Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Jennifer Morrison. “Safety for yourself and for your family.”
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With ponding on the roads quickly turning to slush and ice with that plunge in temps, the governor pleaded with Vermonters to delay any non-essential travel Friday late afternoon or evening.
“Think of what the repercussions are of someone going out on the road at night, when they don’t need to, then, unfortunately, having an incident — an accident of some sort,” said Gov. Phil Scott. “And then tying up the road, so our essential services people, the line crews and so forth, can’t get through to get the power back on the way we so desperately need.”
Shelter and warming centers have been set up in a range of communities, including Norwich, Shelburne, Fayston, Bennington, Richmond, Swanton, Barre, Williston, Vergennes, Newport and Lyndonville for people who may be without power.
For information on those, call 211 or check out the website of Vermont Emergency Management.