By Colin A. Young
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
About 36,000 Massachusetts homes remained in the dark Wednesday morning, more than 48 hours after wind-driven rains swept through, knocking out power to swaths of the state.
By midday, the outage number was down only slightly to 31,503, mostly National Grid customers.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency reported 35,983 outages as of 8 a.m. Wednesday, mostly in the Merrimack Valley and Essex County. While the agency said most customers could expect to have their electricity restored by mid-day, they cautioned that some outages requiring specialty equipment may not be fixed until Thursday night. The midday numbers showed the lights are still not on for many customers.
Most of the outages are in Andover, where 4,291 homes or about 30 percent of the town remained without power as of 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
On MEMA's tracking website, the agency said 3,565 customers were without power in Lowell, 3,064 in Methuen, 2,724 in Haverhill, and 2,365 in North Andover.
Andover, Boxford and Tyngsborough remain the most severely impacted, according to MEMA, with 25 percent or more of customers in those towns still without power as of mid-day Wednesday. South of Boston, Eversource reported 304 outages in Norfolk, 276 in Plymouth, and 119 in Wareham.
On Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters that the goal was to have full electric service restored by midnight Tuesday. Having power fully restored by midnight would be "terrific," Baker said Tuesday morning, and added that he's heard from people without power that it "is an incredible problem for them."
Baker and his wife left Wednesday for California, where they will vacation until returning to Massachusetts on Monday. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito is acting governor while Baker is out of state.
According to MEMA, tree damage has been the primary cause of the power outages and 208 forestry crews are working with utility crews. MEMA said 398 utility crews are working on overhead lines, downed wires, substations, and damage assessment, and 94 additional contractor crews have been brought in to help.