Strong winds continue as crews work to restore power to thousands

North Smithfield storm damage; courtesy Annette Tessier

PINPOINT STORMBEAT (WPRI) — The strong winds from a large coastal storm continued to be an issue Saturday as Southern New England works to clean up the damage caused by the nor’easter.

A Wind Advisory remained in effect for southeastern Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts for much of the day, but was lifted as of 6 p.m.


The region is littered with debris, power lines, tree limbs and in some cases, full trees that were knocked down as a result of the high-speed winds and heavy rain Friday.

About 56,000 National Grid customers in Rhode Island and nearly 142,000 in Massachusetts are still without power, while thousands of Eversource and Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant customers were also in the dark.

In Seekonk, Massachusetts, an emergency warming center opened Saturday evening at the Kevin Hurley Middle School at 650 Newman Avenue.

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National Grid Rhode Island held an update at 4:30 p.m. on restoration efforts throughout the state.  President and COO Tim Horan said the restoration efforts are underway, but will last through the weekend and Monday.  Bucket trucks went to work on power lines as winds finally died down about midday.

“We hit a peak of 150,000 customers, we’ve restored power to over 70,000 customers,” according to Horan.

National Grid has mobilized hundreds of crews across Rhode Island to assess and repair the damage caused by the storm.

“We have over three hundred crews, line crews working, tree crews, additional eighty crews working out here, throughout the state,” added Horan.

Strong winds and high water continue to linger, contributing to ongoing dangerous conditions and slowing the restoration process in some areas. National Grid is prioritizing public safety, focusing first on freeing up police and fire apparatus, addressing wires down, assisting critical customers and responding to emergencies before entering what is anticipated to be a multi-day restoration.

R.I. National Guard Maj. Jeff Lessard said the 861st Engineering Company will be sending teams out to assist with the power restoration efforts.

Gov. Gina Raimondo spoke late Saturday morning, as she was doing a walking tour of the storm damage in Bristol. She said crews hope to have power restored to 50,000 customers by the end of Saturday, though some may be without power until Tuesday. She also added that Narragansett and the East Bay were hit the hardest and that all hospitals are back online.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker has declared a state of emergency to help protect the citizens and property from the impacts of the storm and expedite the use of Commonwealth resources throughout the recovery process.

A Flood Warning is in effect for the Pawtuxet and Pawcatuck Rivers, meaning minor to moderate flooding is possible.

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Flights at T.F. Green Airport are on schedule with only one delay for Sunday morning. Flight Tracker »

Amtrak is running on a modified schedule Saturday in the northeast corridor.

The U.S. Coast Guard warned boaters to stay ashore if possible for the duration of the storm. Narragansett Fire Chief Scott Partington also urged residents to stay clear of the rocky coast.

“They put themselves in harm’s way and by doing that, they have the potential to put us in harm’s way,” he said. “If the storm gets really bad, we’re not able to get out there to help them at times.”

In Newport, a man died after he was struck by a falling tree limb on Ruggles Avenue.

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