WMECo preparing for Hurricane Sandy, winter season - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

WMECo preparing for Hurricane Sandy, winter season

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Nearly one year after the October Nor'easter left residents of western Massachusetts without power for up to a week, the Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo) said they are better prepared for this upcoming winter season.

WMECo President Peter Clarke told CBS3 Springfield they have invested $4 million on pro-active tree trimming, $1.5 million on removing hazardous trees, and about $1 million of repairing wiring to make power lines more storm-ready.

While utility companies learned a lot from the aftermath of that storm, Clarke said customers also need to be more resilient in preparing for any potential storms this winter season. WMECo has asked for cooperation from homeowners, allowing them to trim trees near power lines if they deem it necessary.

"Most important I think for customers is to be prepared." said Clarke. "Follow the weather forecasts. We heard from some customers that they lost food last year. If everyone saw the storm coming, coolers and ice is a pretty basic thing that people can do."

While a major snowstorm is not in the forecast for the end of this October, Hurricane Sandy is setting its sight on the Northeast early next week. WMECo hopes that for this and future storms, they can work together with residents to be safe and informed, getting everybody back to normal after any potential storm.

"We can't monitor every inch of our system, so we really rely on people saying, 'Hey, a pull is broken here, and wires are down here.'" said Clarke.

Gov. Deval Patrick has required utility companies to submit their preparation plans for Hurricane Sandy to the state by Friday.

Priscilla Ress, communication director for WMECo, told CBS3 Springfield that WMECo will not get caught flat-footed by a storm this time. Mobilization of crews is expected to increase by the end of this week, and they are urging customers to get prepared now.

Flashlights, batteries, non-perishable food, water, and enough medical/hygiene supplies are just some of the items the American Red Cross recommends to always have on hand well before any potential storm.

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