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Rare October snowstorm knocks out power, downs trees in Needham

Posted by Daniel Adams  October 31, 2011 12:47 PM

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The heavy, wet snow of a rare October storm has brought down limbs and power lines in Needham, blocking roads and leaving hundreds without power.

As of Monday at 4 p.m., NSTAR reported that 905 households in Needham were without power, down from thousands over the weekend. According to a document posted online, the utility estimated that service to households still without power would be restored by Wednesday night.

Richard Merson, Needham’s director of Public Works, said crews working for his department had cleared away all of the major fallen trees and and limbs that were blocking roads, except for those tangled in live power lines. Several roads remain barricaded because trees that are entangled in the wires, Mesron said.

Because of the risk of electrocution, NSTAR must first render the lines safe before DPW crews can remove those trees. NSTAR has urged residents to stay away from any downed power lines.

Merson said that while most major roadways were clear, his department was still in “mop-up” mode, with different crews clearing smaller branches from streets around town. That work should be done by the end of the week, he said.

Merson said he couldn’t remember another storm like it.

“This early? This crazy? Not really. We’ve dealt with hurricanes before... but nothing this late of that nature, this level of intensity. It’s the first time in my career, and I’ve been in public works for 40 years.”

Two elementary schools lost power over the weekend, but service was restored early this morning and Needham held classes as scheduled today, according to superintendent Dan Gutekanst.

With Halloween and its trick-or-treaters due to hit the streets tonight, some area towns have asked parents to keep their kids indoors, since lights may be dark and wires are still down around the region. As of early this afternoon, Needham has not sought to cancel Halloween.

Residents without power can call 1-800-592-2000 to report the outage to NSTAR. A list of towns including the number of households without power and the estimated time service will be restored is available at nstar.com.

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