Storms slam our region - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Storms slam our region

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Residents ran for cover Wednesday as wind, hail, lighting and rain whipped across the state.

The outbreak, with multiple cells, struck Burlington just after 7 p.m. Downed trees and power lines created hazardous situations, closing 10 roads in the Queen City and slowing emergency response times. Floodwater submerged cars, forcing some into boats.

As that storm cell pelted Chittenden County, those near Joe's Pond in Central Vermont began cleanup efforts. Cars sat idling on Route 2 waiting for crews to clear down lines and trees.

"I've never seen anything like it in my whole life," Karen Keene said.

Ripples gently lapping against the shore-- standing in stark contrast to the scene when the day's first storm ripped through. Witnesses described wind-powered whitecaps measuring three to four feet overturned boats.

Those hoping to catch firework displays out on Colchester's Malletts Bay barely made it back to shore in time.

"It was crazy and the wind and there was-- I don't know if it was a transformer behind us exploded, so there was lightning and thunder and rains and wind and it was just horrible," said Jennifer Bergeron, a boater.

From Rutland to Essex and our station in South Burlington, not even God's House in Grand Isle escaped the wrath of Wednesday's storms. Grand Isle Fire Chief Bill Baron suspects lightning set the Grand Isle United Methodist Church ablaze.

"Only lasted about 30 minutes, but it came with fury," Baron said.

The storm is gone, but the cleanup will last for days.

Thousands of Vermonters lost power during the storms. At the height of the outages, Green Mountain Power had 11,000 customers without power and Burlington Electric Dept. had 1,300 out.

To report outages to Green Mountain Power: call 1-888-TEL-GMPC (1-888-835-4672) or you can also report outages online at www.greenmountainpower.com

To report outages or damages to the Burlington Electric Dept.: 802-658-0300

Safety tips for coping with power outages from GMP:

*STAY AWAY FROM DOWNED POWER LINES. Don't touch or even go near downed wires! These wires can be energized and can cause serious injuries or death. If the line is blocking the road or in contact with a vehicle with people inside, call your local police or fire emergency number first. Then call GMP. Instruct others to keep at least 50 feet away, and keep pets and livestock away as well.

*Assume all objects touching the power line are also energized. Never attempt to remove trees or limbs from any utility lines! Notify GMP of the situation.

*If using a generator, read and follow the owner's manual before starting the generator. Never operate a generator inside any structure or near a structure. Use a transfer switch to ensure electricity is not accidentally fed onto a line where line crews must work.

*Keep freezers and refrigerators closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage.

*If power goes out, turn off all electrical appliances except one light so you'll know when service returns. Then, turn equipment back on slowly.

Related Story:

Mayor Weinberger on Burlington storm damage

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