(Host) Officials at Central Vermont Public Service estimate that it will cost the company a record two and a half million dollars to repair downed electrical lines and restore power to all of its customers, following this week’s storm.
Rutland County took the worst hit and residents there have been told that it may take until Saturday for everyone to regain power. While the cost of restoring power will set records, the cost to repair homes, businesses, streets and other public infrastructure will also be high.
VPR’s Nina Keck has more.
(Keck) You can’t appreciate the extent of the damage until you see the size of some of the trees that have fallen in Rutland City. Some rest across front lawns or on porches while others still lean precariously in power lines. Branches and other bits of debris are everywhere. Long time Rutland resident James Murray stands in his driveway while a city generator powers his sump pump. He says in 35 years, he’s never seen a storm like it.
(Sound of generator)
(Murray) “It was terrible. It was scary, the wind. Very, very scary. Nervous like hell, I didn’t know whether the roof was going to come off. Fellow two houses down – his back end of his roof – his shingles all flew off.”
(Keck) Murray says that while he didn’t have any wind damage, his basement flooded with all the rain. Without power, his sump pump was useless.
(Murray) “I’m on a fixed income, I’m not working anymore – I paid $40 an hour for one fellow and another man came along and he said he’d do it for me and he had to leave quickly and I’m not sure what he’ll charge me but I can’t afford this anymore.”
(Keck) A Rutland area fire fighter and member of the city’s public works department came to Murray’s rescue. The city workers have been driving around Rutland with a portable generator helping to pump out people’s basements. But with only one generator and a long list of people who need help, it’s slow going. In addition to home owners, local businesses have also been hard hit by the storm. Stephanie Kellogg works for the Holden Financial Group – a Rutland area insurance agency.
(Kellogg) “We were here on Monday until about 10:30 when a tree went through the window. And the power was flickering off and on and unfortunately our phones don’t work without power.”
(Keck) Kellogg says their cable internet access is also out and she says it’s been frustrating trying to help their clients. Another local insurance agent, equally frustrated with the lack of phone service decided to be more proactive and announced his cell phone number on a local radio station. While a lack of power and phones has been a challenge for many Rutland area businesses, Matt Philo, manager of the Noble Ace Hardware store says they stayed open. He says they had to use pen and paper and add things up the old fashioned way when the power was off, but their perseverance paid off. Philo says sales are up nearly 100%.
(Philo) “Monday people were great – very forgiving because it was tough – we had to walk everyone around so we could get our inventory correct and get skews and prices. People have been great.”
(Keck) Tom Donahue, Director of the Rutland Region chamber of Commerce says he’s been impressed to see how residents and businesses have overcome various obstacles. But he says this storm will be an incredibly expensive one for the region to deal with and small businesses especially will be hard hit.
(Donahue) “There’s a lot of businesses that struggle along day to day to make a living here and those small businesses are impacted. When you lose a day or two, or even a week’s worth of revenue, that’s significant to the bottom line. It’s going to have long term affects.”
(Keck) He says all those losses will have to be made up somehow.
For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.