Crews work long hours to restore power in Northeast

CONCORD, N.H. —Frustration turned to resignation Saturday for hundreds of thousands of people in the Northeast struggling to survive another day waiting for utility crews to restore electricity after powerful storms socked the region with heavy snow, rain and hurricane-force winds.

The region was left to deal with the fallout of gusting winds that created near-blizzard conditions last week in what was the third strong storm this month for some areas. Parts of New York got more than 2 feet of snow while some areas of coastal New England were drenched with flooding rains.

The highest wind reported from the storm was 91 mph off the coast of Portsmouth, N.H. —well above hurricane force of 74 mph. Gusts also hit 60 mph or more from the mountains of West Virginia to New York's Long Island and Massachusetts.

More than 1 million customers across the Northeast lost power because of the storm, and as of Saturday afternoon more than half of them were still without electricity. New Hampshire's electrical grid was the hardest hit, with more than a quarter-million customers still without power. New York had more than 160,000 outages and Maine about 67,000.

Some residents were warned they'll be without electricity for up to a week, as uprooted trees and fallen utility poles hindered utility crews.

Bow, N.H., Assistant Fire Chief Dick Pistey compared the situation two years ago during a powerful ice storm when ice quickly coated trees, bringing down tree limbs and power lines, leaving millions without power — some for two weeks.

"It's deja vu all over again," Pistey said.

Nick Vermette, 49, a safety specialist for Central Maine Power, the state's largest utility, was supervising crews restoring power in Portland on Saturday. He said the 17-hour days are exhausting.

"By the time you drive home take a shower, try to get to sleep, get up and come back, you're averaging four to five hours sleep," he said.