Ice storm damage worries Vt. sugar makers - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Ice storm damage worries Vt. sugar makers

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Each tree limb trimmed brings utility crews closer to fully restoring power lost in Saturday's ice storm. Friday morning, Shawn Murray watched on, eagerly awaiting the return of electricity to his Enosburgh home.

"It's been hectic," he said. "No power-- for the first time in four days got it back Christmas Eve, lost it again yesterday."

But power won't solve all his problems. A limb threatens the roof of his trailer, literally hanging over his head and keeping him up at night.

"Cracking, worried about my kids getting hurt in the trailer," Murray said. "It's scary not knowing if it's going to fall through my trailer, wake up in the morning with a tree laying on me or something."

For many sugarers in the area it's their business, not home, that's in jeopardy. Power crews successfully restored most downed electrical lines, but can't help with down sap lines. Those tapping higher elevations say they haven't found much damage.

"It's not too bad up here," sugar maker Greg Sweet said. "We just got to deal with the snow."

But those below say the storm could be ruinous.

"We're expecting a real severe impact on what we can produce," Amanda St. Pierre said. "It's early, but you know, with this additional snow, the damage is not stopping."

Amanda St. Pierre and her family run Pleasant Valley Farm in Enosburgh Falls. They have 60,000 taps and expect to find significant damage when it's safe enough to inspect all their lines. Infrastructure can be repaired, but only time will heal splintered trees.

"The damage does not go away in a year," St. Pierre said. "You're talking 5, 10, 15 years down the road before you can get the health of your woods back. So, Vermont could be in a precarious place as being one of the lead maple growers of the country and the world."

A potentially sour end for Vermont's sweetest industry.

Utility spokespeople say they expect only a handful of people to be without power Friday night and they say those outages are from recent snow, not the initial ice storm.

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