There has been enough written on this subject in the papers over the past week, I know, but I need to vent.
First of all, there are a number of roads that come and out of town that are priority roads. Roads for major traffic, commuting, emergency vehicles such as ambulances from other towns going to Harrington Hospital. Route 20, Route 131, Route 49, and Route 148 are all state roads, and are priority roads. Their integrity must be assured at all times.
Now, will someone tell me what the heck happened on Route 148? No one even began to work on the downed lines until Wednesday, four days after the storm. The tree debris was still in the road, a plastic jersey barrier put our on Tuesday, and not one National Grid truck was there to deal with the massive damage on that road from the I-90 bridge to Warren Road.
Not one. For four days.
The day that the president of National Grid stopped by to see how things were going was when I followed a convoy of National Grid, and out of state trucks from the Host Hotel, where we were staying, to our home on Brookfield Road. It was eight o'clock in the morning as two or three pickup trucks, and several bucket trucks slowly made their way up route 148, past our darkened, and frozen house to the scene of the damage a mile away. This was on Thursday, five days after the snow.
Five days after the snow.
We can blame outdated priority lists that National Grid was relying on, and we can blame poor communication as well, but those excuses can only go so far. It was up to those in our town with the geographical knowledge, the up to date priority knowledge, and the most accurate damage assessment to communicate the immediate needs to National Grid.
We can not expect those unfamiliar with our town, and all the damage out there, to perform the repairs in a timely, and efficient manner without inside information.
We can blame National Grid for not being more aggresive in seeking the information, but our town has to shoulder some of the blame as well. The police, local, and state, the selectmen, and others in town were well aware of the damage in town, and the priority each area held. That information, apparently, was not communicated well to the National Grid, and if it was, it was not acted on.
How can a state numbered highway like Route 148 be overlooked for five days, but Wallace Road, and New Boston Road can have multiple crews on them?
I am not bitter. We froze like everyone else. We sat by the fireplace, ate cold sandwiches, and sat in the dark day after day. We finally went to the Host Hotel on Wednesday, and hoped that the power would be on again on Thursday. The work crews on the side of the road told me it would be. When I left for work at 5:30 PM Thursday afternoon, it wasn't, and the family went to the hotel for one more night.
They had had enough. Everyone has.
Obviously we need a different approach to theses disasters. We need an up to date Priority List, and that list needs to be in the hands of the utility companies ASAP. We need a permanent team on the ground here in town that speaks the language of those in National Grid, and can help direct those technicians to the areas that need repair first. National Grid will in turn repair what they can in the order that the grid allows them to do so.
Communication failed. It failed very badly. What was being reported was not being given to the right people, at the right time, in the right format, and as a result we all had to endure too many dark nights in the cold.
Don't allow this to happen again. Develop a plan, appoint a Disater Assesment Team, and develop a communication plan that will expediate the resoration of power in the future.
Now, it is 5:30 AM on Friday morning, and I am at work 60 miles east of Sturbridge, and I have no idea if my house has power yet. I am hoping it does. I'm tired, and will be home in a few hours, and this sleeping with gloves on has gotten really old.