Most in Portsmouth get power back

Ben Farrea was hard at work Saturday morning, shoveling in front of his family's home on Hunter Road. Ben Farrea was hard at work Saturday morning, shoveling in front of his family's home on Hunter Road.

Ben Farrea was hard at work Saturday morning, shoveling in front of his family's home on Hunter Road.

Ben Farrea was hard at work Saturday morning, shoveling in front of his family’s home on Hunter Road.

PORTSMOUTH — Electric power has been restored to most National Grid customers in Portsmouth, the town’s Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) reported Sunday morning.

According to an update posted at http://portsmouthemergency.com, 392 customers were still without power as of about 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

“If your power is still out, please call 1-800-465-1212 to report the outage,” says the notice on the website. “Call even if you have previously reported the outage.”

Power is still out on all of Prudence Island, however.

“Many lines are down on Prudence. These lines must be repaired or made safe before power can be restored to Prudence. Crews are working to address these issues and National Grid is making plans now to bring additional resources to the island,” PEMA reported.

Social media to the rescue

On Arrowhead Lane in Portsmouth: One of many downed power lines in town. National Grid had trouble repairing power lines because of the high winds, but by Saturday night most in town had their electricity back.

On Arrowhead Lane in Portsmouth: One of many downed power lines in town. National Grid had trouble repairing power lines because of the high winds, but by Saturday night most in town had their electricity back.

With most of Portsmouth without power on Saturday, residents took to their cellphones and wireless laptops for news on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. There they received updates on who had power restored, what businesses were open and how friends and family were making out.

PEMA’s Facebook page turned out to be a valuable tool in updating residents on the storm’s aftermath. Facebook users who had “liked” the page received ongoing news on what stores and restaurants were open (like the Cumberland Farms near St. Barnabas Church and China Gourmet further north on East Main Road).

More importantly, the site kept a running tab on who had their power restored by asking homeowners directly. Dozens of residents chimed in.

Facebook also turned out to be a place for venting, as some residents were frustrated that their streets had not yet be plowed. “How about some one in town plowing musselbed shoal rd….we couldn’t get to someplace with heat if we wanted to,” wrote one man. “Have not seen a (snowplow) here since 7 last night tell me again why we pay taxes.”

Several users complained Saturday that the roads in Common Fence Point were not passable, making it difficult for National Grid workers to do their job. “This is ridiculous,” wrote one resident. “It is 35 F in the house i can see my breath. The town is doing a horrible job. Most of Portsmouth has power except CFP.”

Seth Oliveira made the best of the storm by building an igloo with his family in Common Fence Point. Most residents in the neighborhood didn’t get their power back until around 9 p.m. Saturday.

Seth Oliveira made the best of the storm by building an igloo with his family in Common Fence Point. Most residents in the neighborhood didn’t get their power back until around 9 p.m. Saturday.

Common Fence Point residents got their power back around 9 p.m. Saturday.

A few Facebook users said it was disappointing that Portsmouth did not set up a warming center, like those in Middletown and Tiverton. According to PEMA, a shelter was not opened because the demand for one wasn’t great enough.

Still, many residents expressed gratitude to the town and National Grid for their work. “Thank you to all emergency personnel who were at their jobs while their own families were at home during the storm,” wrote one user on the PEMA Facebook page, a sentiment shared by many.

Power outages, blocked roads and downed lines weren’t the only emergencies the town had to deal with. Early Saturday morning there was a major house fire on Cove Street, but all occupants were safely evacuated.

Apparently, a generator in a shed had started the fire.

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