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VEC: Ice storm rivals '98 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

VEC: Ice storm rivals '98

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Photo by Vermont Electric Cooperative Photo by Vermont Electric Cooperative
JOHNSON, Vt. -

Robert Garrow slips and slides around as he tries to shovel a path out of his driveway in East Berkshire. He says this extreme weather is unlike anything he has ever seen.

"I've been around 68 years, but I never remember ever seeing an ice storm this bad," he said.

A combination of steady rainfall and freezing temperatures left much of the Northern part of the state covered in a sheet of ice. Although it may appear as a winter wonderland, the coating left -- at it's peak -- more than 20 thousands Vermonters in the dark.

"It's interesting, at 6 a.m. we only had a couple hundred people out. By 8 a.m., we had thousands and thousand out.  Between 7 and 8 things just came crashing down -- literally," said David Hallquist, the CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative.

To fight the massive power outages Hallquist says Vermont Electric has increased staffing from 50 lineman to more than 300.  The Cooperative also brought in over 100 tree trimming crews to tackle the heavy limbs that are taking out power lines across the state. "When you have a half an inch of ice, you don't have many outages -- the system performs well and the trees kind of just hang there. But as soon as you get a little bit over a half an inch, things come literally tumbling down. It gets to that unstable point and that's exactly what happened here,"  Hallquist said.

He says the sheer weight of the ice is downing trees and branches on power lines and roads, making storm clean-up a difficult task.

"It's on everything. You know, just look at the branches. You can probably turn around and look at that stuff behind you -- them trees have never layed over. This tree has never broke off a branch, and if you stand here and look up at the woods up there and every so often you'll hear a big crack," Garrow said.

Garrow says much of his street lost power Sunday. And being on a main power line, he says, that rarely happens. Officials say people who live on smaller circuits should prepare for two days of outages. "There's not much we can do about it.  Mother Nature has it's own way," Garrow said.

Garrow says he hopes neighbors will help each other until the power comes back on -- he says it's the Vermont way to get through a storm that rocked the region.

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