Two days after a powerful nor’easter blanketed New England in a thick layer of snow, thousands of people in Massachusetts are still waiting for their electricity to come back on.
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, there were 16,170 customers without power statewide, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Communities in Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard were hit the hardest. Eversource reported that outages were still affecting 4,602 of their customers in Barnstable, 1,691 in Falmouth, 1,418 in Plymouth, 1,377 in Sandwich, and 688 in Wellfleet.
“It’s a big improvement from yesterday,” said MEMA spokesman Christopher Besse, noting that Wednesday afternoon there were 165,000 customers without power.
Eversource officials said they expect to have most customers on the South Shore restored by 11 p.m. Thursday, and most homes and businesses on Cape Cod should be back on line by 11 p.m. Friday.
In Falmouth and Sandwich, school was canceled Thursday as a result of power outages.
“Power has not been restored to all of our school buildings thereby limiting lights, heat, phone system, and internet access,” Falmouth school officials wrote on the district’s website.
Sandwich Schools Superintendent Pamela Gould said classes would not be held because of the outages and the fact that Sandwich High School was being used as an emergency shelter.
“The combination of these two things, as well as still having downed wires in town, are forcing us to cancel school,” she wrote on the district’s website.
Falmouth Deputy fire Chief Timothy Smith said approximately 25 percent of the town was still without electricity Thursday morning.
“Obviously the extensive damage to the power lines from trees coming down is remarkable,” Smith said.
Smith said the trees had already endured being battered by the previous storms. “The already weakened trees were given their final push,” he said.
One tree that came down damaged four vehicles on Davisville Road in East Falmouth, he said.
Smith said his department has been answering lots of alarms for homes and businesses, as well as medical calls and calls related to high levels of carbon monoxide from generators.
Falmouth firefighters had to put out two house fires, both of which appear to be storm-related. One started near a fireplace (which was being used because the house did not have power or heat) and resulted in minor smoke and water damage to the home. The other fire started in the basement of an unoccupied house on Andys Lane and may have been caused by the power coming back on. The cause of that fire is still undetermined, and fire officials are investigating, Smith said.
Dennis Deputy fire Chief Robert Brown said power has returned to more homes and businesses in town, and schools are back in session.
“We had a lot of telephone poles come down,” Brown said. “There’s significant infrastructure damage, as far as utilities go.”
Most schools in Barnstable were also open Thursday, with the exception of Centerville Elementary School, which was closed because of a lack of power.
Kevin Morley, a spokesman for the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee, said three schools — Sandwich High School, Barnstable Intermediate School in Hyannis, and Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich — were still being used as emergency regional shelters Thursday morning.
Morley said the three shelters housed 127 people and 13 pets (including one parrot) Wednesday night.
Some residents who were lucky enough to have power found themselves without cable or Internet service.
The storm also affected AT&T’s network, as some residents reported losing cellphone service. By Thursday afternoon, those issues had been resolved, according to Kate MacKinnon, a spokeswoman for AT&T.
“Our technicians worked around the clock and service is now fully restored for customers on Cape Cod following Winter Storm Skylar,” she said.
Comcast officials said they sent crews and equipment to the Cape and Islands in advance of the storm so they would be on hand to make repairs where needed. The company is advising customers who are having trouble with their Xfinity service or WiFi to reset and restart their modems, routers, and cable boxes by unplugging the power cord for 30 seconds. If that doesn’t work, they can call 1-800-Xfinity for assistance.
Meanwhile, in Boston, snow cleanup efforts continued Wednesday night. Public works crews focused their efforts on clearing out bus stops throughout the city before students returned to school Thursday. The city’s public works department tweeted that more than 700 truckloads of snow were removed.
Over 700 truckloads of #snow were removed by PWD crews working throughout the night in @CityOfBoston. Pics below from Ashmont in #Dorchester, Chelsea Street in #Charlestown, River Street in #HydePark, and Hanover Street in the #NorthEnd. pic.twitter.com/1umk7x2hr2— Boston Public Works (@BostonPWD) March 15, 2018