Thanksgiving dawned in New England with an early winter storm dumping about a record foot of snow on Wednesday night, leaving thousands of homes in the dark for Turkey Day. Cooks woke to snow covered ground and no heat in the house or the oven causing families to scramble for plan B for Thanksgiving dinner. Power crews are working hard to get the power back on, but for many, not in time to salvage the food preparation and feasting efforts. Chilly indoor temperatures sent families look for a place to stay warm.
The first snowstorm of the season arrived in New England in the dark of night on Thanksgiving Eve, knocking out the power about 31,000 homes in New Hampshire. The storm consisted of heavy wet flakes and sleet which gradually tapered off to rain. However, Unitil, the local power company has whittled it down to about 11,000 homes by Thursday night and hopes to restore all power by Friday. In Central and Southern New Hampshire, 170,000 power outages were reported and the Public Service of New Hampshire indicates that number has dropped, leaving around 138,000 homes dark, without heat and lights.
Across the region, in New York, New Jersey and Maine, thousands more homes have experienced similar power outages. Around 70,000 New York homes could be without power the entire weekend. About 7,400 homes and businesses are still waiting for the lights to come back on. In northwestern New Jersey, nearly 7,350 homes and businesses were without electricity, according to Jersey Central Power & Light reports. Crews came from Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois and Canada to help get the power grid flowing again.
The sudden, heavy snowfall overburdened tree branches, sending them crashing into power lines. The icy roads also factored into several unplanned meetings between cars and utility poles. At least five New Hampshire state police cruisers were hit while parked as the officers helped at the accident scenes. Thanksgiving air travelers ran into snafus as well, as three of the major airports grounded hundreds of flights due to the icy conditions. Although many major airlines allowed passengers to rebook without the usual penalty fees, changing flights was a losing proposition for many since the holiday meant full flights on most carriers.
Even with the power restorations, the outages still leave around 150,000 New England homes devoid of power as Thanksgiving 2014 comes to a close. This has caused many to leave the cold and venture out into the storm, in search of the emergency shelters where at least they can get out of the dark and stay warm until the power companies are able finishing restoring power so they can go home.
Memories of this Thanksgiving will stay with New England families for a long time to came as people retell the stories of how the storm nixed all original plans in a quest to stay warm. The newlyweds who spent their first Thanksgiving at Whole Foods, packing up coolers with refrigerated foods and leaving them outside to chill, finding ways to keep elderly relatives warm — all are part of the impromptu adventure of the unexpected snowstorm that darkened everyone’s Thanksgiving plans.
by Tamara Christine Van Hooser
Image courtesy of Phil Glockner – Flickr License