LACONIA — Thousands of customers in the Lakes Region were without power Friday after harsh winds battered the region overnight and into the day.
High winds, with gusts of gale-force strength, brought down tree limbs and even trees across power lines, causing electrical utility repair crews to scramble as they worked to stay abreast as reports of downed power lines came in almost continually.
“It’s a moving target,” New Hampshire Electric Cooperative spokesman Seth Wheeler said of the situation.
At daybreak the utility counted 4,000 outages in its system. But that number had more than tripled to 13,000 by mid-morning. When crews were able to restore power to its Meredith substation around noon, the number of outages systemwide was reduced to 9,000, but by 1 p.m. the number had climbed back up to 11,000, Wheeler explained.
Eversource said at midday about 2,200 customers in Laconia were without power. Scattered outages were also reported in Gilford, Belmont, Sanbornton and the Newfound Area.
The Belknap County Sheriff’s Department, which handles police dispatching for several towns, said there were reports of at least 20 to 25 trees that had fallen on utility wires. But at midday no roads were blocked, Chief Sheriff’s Deputy David Perkins said.
Falling trees also damaged homes and property in some areas.
At mid-morning a tree was torn out by its roots and tumbled on top of a mobile home in the Lake Breeze Mobile Home Park in Gilford, near the Laconia city line. No one was in the residence when the tree crashed into the front part of the structure, which belongs to Jacqueline Habeeb, of Peabody, Massachusetts, according to her brother, Steve Defilippis, who lives in the park.
Another tree fell on the roof of a house at 106 and 108 Clinton St. Again, no one was inside at the time. Firefighters closed off the entrance to the home’s driveway with yellow barricade tape.
In Gilford strong winds uprooted a pine tree which crushed part of a mobile home that was unoccupied at the time. At the Lake Winnisquam Point Marina in Laconia, a pontoon boat was heavily damaged when a nearby tree came down.
Eversource said 580 line, tree and service workers were deployed to restore power. Crews from neighboring states and the Canadian province of Quebec were also brought in to help with repairs.
The Co-op was also using resources from Quebec to augment its cadre of 30 line crews.
Both utilities said the out-of-state crews had been called in before the storm hit.
Wheeler expected that Co-op crews would be working throughout the night and into today to get power restored in some areas. He said it was also possible that some customers might not get their power restored until Sunday.
He said early Friday afternoon it was difficult to make any assessment how long it would be before everyone had their power back until the winds died down.
Wind gusts reached as high as 52 mph just before 11 a.m., according to data recorded at the Laconia Municipal Airport in Gilford.