- Posted December 14, 2008 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Frozen without Electricity in Massachusetts
We have been since Thursday night at midnight with no electricity and not a sign of a Unitil Power Company truck anywhere in the city. But Fedex has delivered holiday packages to my house twice. Maybe Fedex should be running the power company or at the very least sharing their business plan because obviously it's working.
We're going on day 3 of a power outage as the result of Thursday night's ice storm that was only supposed to slightly bother our Friday morning commute. Thankfully my mother called and woke me at 10pm Thursday night to say that the ice storm was supposed to be bad and that we should prepare ourselves. Well, by that point all the grocery stores were closed and all I could do was push my heat up to 90 to get the house hot enough to last the couple hours it would take them to get the power back on if it went out. WRONG! Let's just say it has been nothing but a hellish nightmare since then. We've to date spent $4,000 for generator, electrician and furnace service and just now barely have heat coming on. We were supposed to fly out to my in-laws today for Christmas vacation with them. My husband and children are going and I'm staying to man the fort. Our family will have to be happy with just us for Christmas because we have now officially tapped out our savings and are onto the credit cards. What about the poor and the elderly who don't have such resources? We have several elderly in our neighborhood and several have said they've laid in bed all these days frozen stiff. I'm not a doctor but that can't be good and probably carries serious consequences to an elderly person.
The power company Unitil came under fire Saturday morning from Rep. Stephen DiNatale, D-Fitchburg, over a lack of communication from the energy company at the outset of the storm.
"I don't believe Unitil has responded the way they should have," DiNatale said. "The response, up until today, has been lackluster to say the least."
Ward 4 City Councilor Kevin Starr said Unitil did not send enough work crews to the city when the storm hit, delaying the needed repair work to restore power.
"They have set the progress back hours and hours and hours," Starr said
I'd say more like days and weeks. I also read on CNN that National Guard has been dispensed to the area and haven't seen one of them either. Our more affluent neighbors in Leominster are coming back up and running since they are on National Grid lines.
As of Sunday morning Unitil states it has 10 work crews currently in Fitchburg.. Another drive around the city produced no sitings of any Unitil workers but I did see 5+ Verizon trucks out working. I guess it's important to have my phone but I'd much rather have my heat on.
Most are insured for water pipes freezing and busting but the thought of spending 3 months in a hotel room with 2 children, while they gut my house out, does not appeal to me in the least and has driven me to spend $4,000 in 3 days to get what little heat I do have.
There are no generators from Maine to New Jersey. Ours was hand delivered by relatives from 8 hours away. One kind fellow was willing to sell me one at a 500% mark up. I actually thought about it for about 30 seconds. Desperate times mean desperation in both the good and bad. Good people will pay anything to keep their family alive and their house protected. Bad people will use every means they have to overcharge you or come in the middle of the night and steal your generator or your frozen pipes out of your walls.
After New Orleans I have no grand ideas of the Federal or State Government coming to save me in a crisis, but I would have expected at least a better forewarning from the weather companies and news outlets.
In response to the many negative comments:
-my main concern is elderly and poor who don't have the means to pay for a generator or technicians to hook it up in the manner that we did. Who's there to help them? We didn't just sit on our ands, we helped ourselves.
-I appreciate the work of the electric crews, however my point is: Unitil is telling the media they have 10 crews working in Fitchburg, since I have yet to see even 1 anywhere I feel they should be called on it.
-yes I have offered my home (now heated) to many friends and neighbors
-day 5 still no electricity
-Unitil now admitting they were and are not equipped to handle this type of an emergency, they are too small of a company and don't have the resourse....admitting that on day 1 woud have brought more help from Federal and other bigger company resources
-Unitil now saying power may not be back on until sometime between Christmas and New Years
-several people staying at our house including one with a breathing machine
-generator costs $20-25 a day to run....cheaper than a hotel room....$4k may end up paying for itself by New Years
-finally saw a Unitil surveyor.......flagged him down.....said he can;t tell us if days, weeks or a month.....no idea.....he's not a work crew but at least he's someone from Unitil.....poor fellow has no electricity either
-one neighbor found a generator too and are up and running....yay!
-good news Home Depot pulled all its resources all over the country and delivered 700 generators yesterday alone to their Leominster branch....more on the way......God Bless them!
-thank God unlike others further into the country....we have town water and sewer....
-our church and kids' school's water pipes burst and flooded....not sure when kids can go back to school.....they don't know how long to repair.