National Grid crews are out restoring power to those that are still in the dark after Hurricane Sandy and said that nearly all customers should have power by midnight tonight.
In a teleconference this afternoon, National Grid president Marcy Reed said that crews have been out restoring power to customers across the northeast for over 48 hours since beginning on Tuesday morning at 6 a.m., when the power company decided it was safe to begin working.
Reed said that, as of 3 p.m. Thursday, power has been restored to 97 percent of National Grid customers. Roughly 5,600 customers are still without power.
"The lion's share of our customers [without power] will receive power by midnight tonight," said Reed.
Reed said crews will most likely have a number of remote areas and problem sections that they will have to deal with tomorrow morning. However, she said that all customers should have power back by tomorrow afternoon at the latest.
At the peak, National Grid reported that a total of 237,000 customers were without power due to Hurricane Sandy.
In Tewksbury, just 286 customers out of 12,472 total remain without power. That's down from a high of more than 2,500 at the height of the storm. The biggest pocket of outages seems to be in the Salem Street area of South Tewksbury, where 83 customers are still in the dark.
"It is very clear to me that there are a number of people we need to thank. Our customers [in particular]," said Reed. "They have been patient, they have been understanding and they have been sharing feedback with us."
In a conference earlier in the week, National Grid officials commented on how their response to Hurricane Sandy differed from Irene and Snowtober last year.
By the end of Tuesday, half of the customers had power restored in the first full day after the storm pulled out of Massachusetts. During Hurricane Irene and the “Snowtober” snowstorm just before Halloween last year, that mark was not reached until at least day 2 or day 3 in most communities.
“We were quicker out of the box” in Hurricane Sandy, Reed said.
The creation of the “community liaison” position, which puts a National Grid employee in the emergency operations center of each community, is one of the big changes that have been made since National Grid’s response to the two storms last year came under sharp criticism.
While the company has heard “very good feedback” on that position, Reed acknowledged that there is still work to do to make the position more effective.
“In some towns we still have some bugs to work out” with the way to community liaisons positions operates, she said.
Reed said she would continue to visit towns hard hit by outages and listen to local leaders feedback about the company’s response.
Patch Local Editor Robert Gates also contributed to this report.