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With more than 200,000 Massachusetts customers still without power after the weekend snowstorm, Gov. Deval Patrick says he is beginning to lose patience with electric utilities.
Patrick told reporters Wednesday that while he understands crews are working around the clock to restore power, the utilities need to "step it up" to get the job finished. He said residents waiting to get their power back are understandably losing patience, "and so am I, frankly."
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Patrick said state officials continue to hear complaints about a lack of timely information from utilities.
As of 4 p.m., the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency reported that 202,833 customers in the state remained without power, including 123,396 National Grid customers and 75,700 customers of Western Massachusetts Electric Co.
"We are down to the hand-to-hand combat phase," said National Grid President Marcy Reed. "It can take hours of work to restore power to a relatively small number of customers. Nonetheless, we expect to have power back to the vast majority of customers by [Thursday]."
Many western Massachusetts roads remain impassable, hampering power restoration efforts.
"We have crews out there from the various state agencies, National Guard, as well as bringing in crews from as far away as Canada and Kentucky," said MEMA spokesman Peter Judge. "And that certainly allows the utilities to do a better job of getting where they have to get to."
MEMA says 1,761 people spent Tuesday night at 74 shelters around the state.
Meanwhile, MEMA warned residents without power — and especially those without heat — to be safe.
"Don't do crazy things. Don't bring in your outside grill. Don't light a hibachi. Don't heat your home with your gas stove. Those are the situations where ultimately we end up with fatalities," Judge said.
On Tuesday, two people died in Palmer because they were using a propane heater inside their trailer home. Four out of the now-five storm-related deaths appear to stem from attempts to heat homes that lost power.
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
This program aired on November 2, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.
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