Storm leaves thousands without power in Southern New England

Storm leaves thousands without power in Southern New England
A severe storm packing hurricane force wind gusts and soaking rain swept through the Northeast early Monday, knocking out power for more than a million and forcing hundreds of schools to close in New England.

Falling trees knocked down power lines across the region, and some utility companies warned customers that power could be out for a few days.

There were numerous reports of trees down on homes, roads and cars. Amtrak was forced to suspend service from Boston to Connecticut and the MBTA reported delays on several of its lines due to downed trees.

Winds are expected to remain strong Monday afternoon, which could slow the effort to restore power.

New England appeared to get the brunt of the storm, which brought sustained winds of up to 50 mph in some spots. A gust of 130 mph was reported at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire, while winds hit 93 mph in Mashpee on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Mike Longacre had a rotted tree crash right into his Mansfield, Massachusetts home overnight. It left a gaping hole in his attic and punctures in his living room ceiling.

"It was earth shattering, so you knew it was something huge," Longacre said.

In Brookline, Massachusetts, Helene Dunlap said her power went out after she heard a loud "kaboom" around 1:30 a.m. She went outside hours later to find a large tree had fallen on a neighboring home.

National Grid has provided an update on efforts to restore electricity after Sunday's windstorm, dashing hope for speedy repairs.
© Aimee O'Connor
National Grid has provided an update on efforts to restore electricity after Sunday's windstorm, dashing hope for speedy repairs.
"It really shook the whole place up," she said. "It was such a dark, stormy night that looking out the window we really couldn't determine what was going on."

Phil Cole was working the graveyard shift when a tree feel through his bedroom in Methuen, Massachusetts. If he had been home sleeping, the tree probably would have fallen right on him.

"If you open the door to my bedroom, there's no bedroom," Cole said. "There's no floor, no anything. Just a closet."

"The whole house swayed like an earthquake," building owner Lisa Gomez said. "He opened up the back kitchen door that goes to the hallway and there was the woods. There was no back to it."

More than 271,000 Massachusetts customers still had no power as of 3 p.m., making it the largest power outage in the state since Hurricane Irene in 2011.

More than 209,000 power outages were reported in New Hampshire
. The last time the state had that many power outages was during the pre-Thanksgiving Day storm in 2014.

At least 391,000 lost power in Maine, approaching the number from the infamous 1998 ice storm. Central Maine Power said their immediate priority was to make downed lines safe, and due to the high number of downed lines, they did not expect to make much progress on power restoration Monday. They added they expect the recovery effort to take several days. Gov. Paul LePage declared a state of emergency on Monday and urged residents to be cautious on the roads.

More than 142,000 Rhode Island customers were in the dark, while more than 120,000 in Connecticut had lost electricity. NBC Connecticut reported that some of the harder hit communities included Fairfield, Stonington and Ledyard.

Another 42,000 were without electricity in Vermont.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said the National Weather Service is forecasting continued strong winds throughout the day and possibly into Tuesday, with the winds shifting to the west or southwest behind the departing storm.

Wind gusts may be as high as 40 to 50 mph across the state, possibly causing additional scattered downed trees, branches and power lines.

Flood warnings for minor flooding have been issued for several Massachusetts rivers. Moderate flooding has been forecast for the North Nashua River in Fitchburg and the Blackstone River in Northbridge. Residents of Bartlett, New Hampshire shared images of severe flooding caused by the overflowing of the Saco River along the Maine border. Some people had to be evacuated from their homes by rescue boat.

The storm began making its way up the East Coast on Sunday, which also was the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. That 2012 storm devastated the nation's most populous areas, was blamed for at least 182 deaths in the U.S. and Caribbean and more than $71 billion in damage in the U.S. alone.

The same storm system also caused problems earlier Sunday in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. On the shoreline in Bayonne, New Jersey, a large barge was found washed up after apparently breaking free from its moorings during the storm.

In New York, the rush hour got off to a rocky start as service on Metro-North's Danbury Branch in Connecticut was suspended due to a mudslide and signal power problems. Part of the Long Island Rail Road's Ronkonkoma Branch was halted because of power lines on the tracks. Video posted on Twitter showed unhappy commuters crowding a station.