By CAROL ROBIDOUX
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Fire Chief George Klauber's five o'clock shadow arrived an hour ahead of schedule. At 4 p.m. yesterday, a weary but wired Klauber was still at the town's Emergency Operations Center, still coordinating the townwide effort toward normalcy, following Friday night's powerful wind storm that knocked out power to 79 percent of the town.
“No matter how many resources you make available to people, most don't rely on sheltering. Unlike the ice storm, the weather this time around isn't severe enough. A lot of people invested in generators since then. And frankly, residents and officials have learned a lot from that experience,” Klauber said.
By afternoon, power had been restored to many of those originally left without electricity, thanks to stepped up efforts by Public Service of New Hampshire, said Ray Brown, spokesman for the town's emergency team.
“A rough estimate at this point? Maybe 4,000 households still without power,” said Brown at about 6 p.m., noting the successful efforts to restore power to the Derry Public Library and the Grinnell Elementary School.
Klauber said he had received a call from Gov. Lynch earlier in the day, asking if the town was managing and whether there were a sufficient number of emergency personnel.
As of last night there were still about 15 roads that were impassable, and a few “trouble” neighborhoods, including those near Big Island Pond and along North Shore Road. Mild temperatures have helped the town recover from the storm, Klauber said. Having a significant section of the downtown up and running throughout the emergency provided places for people to go for meals or to relax, which helped.
More than 200 cases of water were left just outside the municipal offices with a sign asking residents to take only one case per household. Klauber said the honor system worked well, and freed up volunteers to handle other tasks.
“I think the best thing for residents has been getting a live person when they call our emergency hotline. They are surprised by that,” Klauber said.
“Today we had a woman call who was at the hospital with her husband, and she'd been back and forth to her home a few times by taxi. She wondered if there were some way she could get a ride home to pick up some items, so we were able to send a cruiser to the hospital to take her back and forth. It's not the kind of thing we can do routinely, but in this case, we were able to provide this service to her. It's the small things, sometimes, that help people get through a stressful time,” Klauber said.