NEWPORT CITY - For the past several days, emergency officials intently watch as hybrid storm Sandy makes its way up the East Coast, leaving footprints of mass destruction and devastation.
Sandy spared the Green Mountain State as Vermonters sighed in relief. Wind speeds in the Northeast Kingdom included 38-miles per hour at Caledonia County Airport at 11:55 p.m. Monday. Walden had 37-miles per hour wind at 2:56 Monday afternoon. The Newport State Airport reported 35-miles per hour wind at 3:55 pm Monday.
Winds on Mt. Mansfield reached 72-miles per hour. On Mt. Washington, winds- reached 136 miles per hour at 5:37 p.m. Monday.
Vermont Electric Co-Op members started losing power at 4 p.m. Monday. Tuesday morning, crews were working hard to restore the 400 members who were still without power.
A press release issued by Green Mountain Power Monday reported that 22,500 customers were without power. About half of those people had their power restored by 8 p.m. Monday.
During a press conference late Tuesday morning, Gov. Pete Shumlin gave kudos to the individuals, both paid and volunteers, who worked hard to prepare for Sandy’s arrival. State officials are pleased Vermont escaped without much damage or loss of life. Shumlin is grateful for the first responders, the Vermont Agency of Transportation and utility crews who came to the state from as far away as Ontario. Shumlin said 36,000 power customers lost their power during the storm. By late Tuesday morning, all but 8,000 were back online.
“We’re grateful that we are where we are without more significant damage,” said Shumlin. “We’re obviously extremely sympathetic and empathetic, having survived Irene, to our neighbors to the south. We’re going to be offering all the help that they deserve and need as they go through some very difficult days ahead.”
Shumlin talked to President Obama and the governors and mayors outside the state to determine how Vermont can help other states. The state will lend two of the state’s National Guard helicopters to New Jersey. Vermont wants to help the surrounding states get back on their feet as those states helped Vermont in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene.
Lt. Gov. Phil Scott echoed Shumlin’s remarks. “We want to recognize Sandy’s wrath in other states and the struggles they face from this point on,” said Scott. “We want to be there to help them like they helped us.”
Scott and other state officials realize that some Vermonters were still facing issues like not having electric power. Shumlin said nobody should put himself or herself in danger.
Scott, like Shumlin, recognized the good work of first responders, utility crews, highway crews, local officials and the media, some of whom pulled all-nighters during the storm. He also thanked the state’s Emergency Operations Center, members of the administration and Shumlin for preparing Vermonters for future events.
“We can’t let our guys down,” said Scott. “We have to be prepared and I think this was a great exercise.”
Scott stressed the state did sustain some wind damage in the state. Richard Gilbert, acting general manager for the Agency of Transportation District Office in Derby reported wind damage in the area around Bloomfield, Island Pond and Canaan. Most of the damage was dead trees landing in the roadway. There was no flooding or washouts.
“We were pretty lucky around here,” said Gilbert.
School officials canceled classes for Tuesday and possibility Wednesday, but according to the North Country Schools Supervisory Union website, classes will resume today. Classes will also resume today in the Orleans-Central Supervisory Union.