Tree falls, breaks 5 utility poles in Mont Vernon, cuts power to half the town

MONT VERNON – Five utility poles were broken early Monday morning when a tall pine tree fell on one of them, causing a cascade effect and leaving almost half of Mont Vernon without power for about 10 hours as the temperature fell below zero.

The poles were broken shortly after 1 a.m. along Old Amherst Road, where the power lines are a major electricity connection from the town of Amherst into Mont Vernon.

Electricity was out throughout most of the eastern half of the town, including parts of Main Street, or about 800 customers. Crews from Eversource, the new name of PSNH, were on the scene by 7:30 a.m. and power was restored to virtually everyone by 11 a.m.

“The cause was a very large pine tree that came down, ultimately snapping five poles,” wrote Eversource spokeswoman Lauren Collins in an email response to a question.

This was the only major power outage reported in Greater Nashua from Sunday’s storm.

The northernmost pole break was next to Spring Hill Road.

At 8 a.m., Charles Denton, 28 Spring Hill Road, came down to check on the progress, and for a good reason. “My generator won’t start,” he said.

Denton said the power lines along Old Amherst Road are often knocked down in winter.

“I don’t know why they don’t take more of the trees out,” he said.

At 60 Old Amherst Road, Garth and Louanne Witty were wrestling with the problem of homes that use private wells: When the power is out, they have no water supply. All properties in Mont Vernon are in that situation.

The Wittys raise goats, and have 40 of them.

“We have animals that don’t have water. I’m melting snow on the wood stove,” said Louanne Witty. “That takes forever.”

Still, she said, this is part of life in New Hampshire.

“If you don’t want to do it, you can move somewhere else,” she added.

At 15 Mason Road, Janna Dewitt was awake when the power went out, and after 13 years in town she’s aware of what it’s like when you lose power.

“It didn’t flicker, so we knew it was out out,” she said.

The couple has a generator.

Because of the below-zero temperatures, the Mont Vernon Fire Department opened a warming station at its Main Street fire station, and the Mont Vernon Congregational Church opened its doors.

The church put a notice on Facebook: “We have power, coffeepots and coffee, and outlets to charge phones. We’ve unlocked the door and anyone who needs to warm up, recharge, etc, is very welcome and encouraged to come over.”

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531, or @GraniteGeek.