As storm closes in, towns urge caution Here's some hints and phone numbers you should have

Emergency management officials around the area are warning everyone that this weekend winter storm, which will start Saturday evening, could deliver 1 to 2 feet of snow, and bitter weather of as low as 20 below.

This will be an especially difficult weekend since it’s also the national holiday  in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.  and lots of winter sports enthusiasts will be visiting the area.

The most common piece of advice is “if you don’t need to travel, don’t.” State, town and private snowplows will be working hard to clear roads and driveways, but at times it will be very hard to keep up, so prepare and plan to stay at home Saturday night through Sunday if possible. If you can, check in on neighbors, especially those who might need help coping with difficult conditions.

The snow in this storm was expected to be lighter so it’s less likely to cause power outages, but that forecast has been changing and Green Mountain Power is now concerned with outages caused sleet, freezing rain and ice especially in Bennington and Windham counties.

High winds are expected and with them extremely low wind chills as the storm moves out Sunday night and Monday. Any possible power outages will be a serious situation. You can report a power outage to Green Mountain Power at (888) 835-4672. If it’s an emergency,  call 9-1-1. You can also view the GMP Outage map here.

State Police are asking that if you are able to check on neighbors, family and friends who are elderly or may need assistance. They also suggest to dress warmly and be mindful of hypothermia and frostbite symptoms – especially if you are going to be outside for an extended period, like on a trek or skiing/boarding. Make sure infants are kept warm.

Here’s weather forecasts and live updates for Bennington and Windham counties and for the rest of Vermont.

For local information

If you are in need of help, here’s what authorities in your communities are suggesting:

ANDOVER: Andover Town Clerk Jeanette Haight suggested that if you are having a serious road problem to call Road Commissioner Chris Plumb at 875-3896. She also said residents can leave a message at Town Garage: 875-3247 or  call 2-1-1  if for extra services.

CAVENDISH: Assistant to the Town Manager Bruce McEnaney is suggesting that for emergencies — medical, fire related or carbon monoxide — call 9-1-1. Otherwise, call the State Police Westminster Barracks at (802) 722-4600. VSP will in turn contact Cavendish. For downed wires, stay away from them but call Green Mountain Power. (See number above)

CHESTER: Executive Assistant Julie Hance suggested that in the case of a non-emergency call Chester Police Department 875-2035 or call Chester Dispatch through the Vermont State Police at 875-2233. In case of emergency call 9-1-1.

GRAFTON: Town Clerk Kim Record said that if Grafton residents are facing a road emergency to call the Town Garage at 843-2456. For other types of emergencies, call 9-1-1.

LONDONDERRY: Londonderry Emergency Management will be monitoring conditions, and if anyone needs non-emergency assistance, call Londonderry Emergency Management at 802-548-8246.

WESTON: Administrative Assistant Cheryl Barker says that Weston road crews are expected to be out at 4 a.m. on Sunday to begin working on 35 miles of Weston roads. Following plowing, if residents are still having road problems, Road Foreman Almon Crandall urges town residents to call the State Police at Westminster Barracks (802) 722-4600, who will then contact the Weston Roads crew. For medical emergencies, call 9-1-1.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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