Power outage hits North Adams downtown

NORTH ADAMS — When the power went out in downtown North Adams on Monday, the Berkshire Food Project had about 20 turkeys in its freezer.

"The scariest part of it is that much of the food we get is either donated or purchased through the food bank at reduced cost," said Kim McMann, executive director of the organization based in the First Congregational Church. "We can't always replace what we have."

Luckily, neighbors were able to share some freezer space and volunteers filled their cars with food. Then local electrician Allan McLain brought generators and was able to get the nonprofit's freezers running.

"He just totally saved the day for us," said McMann, estimating that the efforts of the organization's staff, volunteers and McLain saved hundreds of dollars worth of food on Monday.

Power was out in part of the downtown area all day Monday due to an issue with underground wiring, authorities said.

National Grid was on the scene working to repair the outage and estimated that power would return at 8:15 p.m., according to the utility company's website, which indicated the outage affected 66 customers on Monday afternoon. But as of press time, power had still not returned to the neighborhood and the latest estimate was that it would return at 11:15 p.m.

The areas impacted by the outage included the south side of Main Street to the Ashland Street area around the Oasis Plaza.

The outage left several businesses closed, including Papa Gino's, the Dollar Tree and Label Shopper.

The outage did not impact St. Elizabeth's Parish Center, the city's sole polling location for Tuesday's city and special state elections.

The Berkshire Food Project planned on serving lunch today whether power is restored or not, sending out meals in to-go containers if necessary.

"The worst part was we weren't able to serve lunch {Monday], and that's really difficult," McMann said.

Bob Maxwell, vice president of marketing at Greylock Federal Credit Union, said the bank was luckier than most other businesses because it has nearby locations on Ashland Street and in Williamstown and Adams it could direct customers to.

"It's one of those things you can't control," Maxwell said of the outage.

Mayor Richard Alcombright said he had spoken with a National Grid representative several times throughout the day.

"It's a cable of sorts under the ground and they basically are going from manhole to manhole to troubleshoot," he said Monday afternoon.

The repair itself won't take hours, Alcombright said, but it's unclear exactly how long it will take to identify the problem area.

"What they're out there doing now, I understand, is fishing," he said.

The city's electricians were able to use generators to power traffic signals, the mayor said. The Public Safety Building is also powered by a generator to ensure the continued 911 dispatch service.

"Folks can feel confident that 911 is still very much up and running," Alcombright said.

National Grid representatives did not return a call requesting comment on Monday.

Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-496-6376.


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