Granby Residents Lose More Than Power To Ike

GRANBY, NY – During the early morning hours Monday, Joe Kempston listened as strong winds whipped around outside of his home on Joey K Lane in Granby. As he began to hear “cracking and popping,” he opted to get out of bed and look around to make sure home was okay.

“I was barefoot,” Kempston said. “I walked into the hallway and into the living room. Just when I did, the lights in the ceiling fans started to blow.”

Glass and sparks fell from the ceiling to the hardwood floors in one room; then another.

Once power was restored to his home, Kempston found the two ceiling fans were only one piece of a significant amount of damage. He said three television sets, a computer, a microwave and a new freezer were all burned out from a surge of power that came through his home during the storm.

“The computer was on a surge protector,” he said. “It burned out before the power hit the computer.” Kempston said the white surge protector was black from the damage.

A refrigerator continued to operate, as did one television that was connected to a surge protector, which is no longer working.

Joe Kempston stands next to the electrical meter at his home on Joey K Lane. The meter burned out during the Monday's wind storm.
Joe Kempston stands next to the electrical meter at his home on Joey K Lane. The meter burned out during the wind storm that hit Central New York Monday.

Kempston said he had no limbs down on his property and no obvious tree damage. The electric meter on the side of his home was burned out during the storm, as well.

“You can see where it burned out along the top of the glass inside,” he said.

Overall, Kempston estimates he sustained $5,000 in damages during the windstorm that swept through Central New York Monday morning. He said he contacted National Grid soon after to notify the company of the damage.

“They told me it was a storm; an act of God,” Kempston said. “They told me to call my insurance company until they find the source and said they would send me a claim form.”

Though Monday’s storm represented the third time that Kempston has lost electrical appliances during a storm, he said he has never submitted a claim to National Grid before. While he was covered through his own insurance company, he didn’t want a claim to affect his premiums in the following year. Rather, he opted to take the damages “on the chin.”

Kempston said he has little confidence that he will recoup the loss from the power company this time.

“They always tell me it is an act of God,” he said. “I am sick of hearing that. This was a back surge.”

Every night since the storm, Kempston said he is ill-at-ease about the potential damage to the wiring inside his walls.

“I am always up sniffing for smoke,” he said. “I have no idea if the wires in my walls are melted.”

Kempston is not alone. He said a National Grid worker who visited his neighbor’s home reported that 52 meters need to be replaced at residences along his road and nearby Jones Drive.

Dan Knight, who has a summer residence on Joey K Lane, said he only lost a microwave and his electrical meter during the storm.

“I was fortunate,” he said. “I didn’t lose any televisions or other electrical things.

“The thing that surprised me was the surge protectors,” Knight said. “It didn’t seem to matter if people had those or not. They still had things burn out.”

Knight said he is concerned that electrical safeguards didn’t work the way they should have.

“If there is a power surge, it is not supposed to cause this kind of damage,” Knight said. “It is supposed to stop.”

An electric meter next door to Shannon Smith's home on Jones Drive shows damage from being burned out.
An electric meter on Jones Drive in Granby shows damage from being burned out.

Shannon Smith, a resident of Jones Drive, said she lost a television set, an adapter to a telephone and a surge protector during the storm. Smith said she has not decided if she will submit a claim for the damage.

“I want to,” she said. “The television wasn’t new but it is the point. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

Smith said her electrical meter was also black from damage. National Grid replaced that meter Tuesday, she said. A meter that runs to her brother’s summer home next to her property is still black.

When National Grid replaced her meter, Smith said she wasn’t given a reason for what caused the problem in her area.

“At first, I thought it was an isolated thing,” she said. “Then I saw my brother’s meter and heard about the neighbors.”

Smith said she saw a “flash” during the storm Monday. Her father, who used to work for a power company, told her it was probably lightning.

When she drove through the village of Phoenix on her way to work Monday, Smith said she realized that lightning was likely not the culprit.

“There are electrical wires that look like they have frayed electrical tape on them,” Smith said. “The casing melted from the wires and fell all over the ground.”

Thursday evening, National Grid spokesperson Patrick Stella did not have information available to discuss the situation on Jones Drive and Joey K Lane. He did say, however, that workers looked over the wires in Phoenix after the storm.

“There was never any safety hazard,” Stella said. “They looked at the wires and plan to go back and investigate exactly what happened after all of the restoration efforts are complete.”

Approximately 20 National Grid customers were still without power this morning, according to the outage tracker on the company’s Web site.

Stella noted that Monday’s storm brought sweeping damages. On its Web site, National Grid explains its system of prioritizing efforts after a storm.

“We had sustained winds of up to 50 miles per hour for several hours,” Stella said. “There was a lot of tree damage, which was the biggest problem. We had trees on lines and pole damage that was not limited to an isolated area.”

Across Upstate New York, Stella said the peak of outages reached 155,000 customers from Buffalo to Albany. Central New York was the hardest hit area with 100,000 customers without power.

“We restored 80,000 people by Tuesday,” Stella said. “The rest was cleaned up by Wednesday. We had a great response from our linemen and support staff who worked very quickly to get power back on.”

In total, 650 crews (1,800 people) were in Central New York to work on the storm outages. Stella noted that because the remnants of Hurricane Ike brought sweeping damages, National Grid was not able to rely on mutual aid crews from other companies, which had to manage their own restoration efforts.

“We called in our own crews from Long Island and New England, where the damages weren’t as severe, to help with restoration efforts.”

Kempston said while he understands National Grid had a lot to manage this week, he is more concerned with the root cause of problems in his neighborhood.

“This is the third time this has happened to me in eight years,” he said. “It seems every time the wind gets over 10 miles an hour, I will have to replace my appliances.”

Editor’s Note: National Grid spokesperson Patrick Stella was only able discuss the broad aspects of the Monday’s storm and the subsequent power outages. When we spoke with him Thursday evening for this story, he did not have any specifics at hand for the situation in Granby. He said is checking into the situation and will update us as information becomes available, at which point, we will add it here.