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Number of Homes without Power Dwindles

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Utility officials say they hope to have power restored by Monday night to the remaining customers without service from Friday's ice storm.

As of 4:00pm Monday, Niagara Mohawk had restored power to all but 3,000 customers. New York State Electric and Gas spokesman Dan Tillman says just a few dozen NYSEG customers were still waiting.

"We're at the slowest point of the restoration effort," Tillman explained. "We're essentially down to restoring one house at a time. It is slow going. Right now, the weather is not cooperating, so that kind of slows things down. But we hope to have everything taken care of today."

Verizon reported Monday that about 9,000 customers lost phone service at the height of Friday's storm. A spokesman says service was still out for 3,000.

Local utility workers have been joined by hundreds of others from as far away Long Island and Massachusetts. For workers from Massachusetts Electric, it was especially frustrating. They were busy in the Buffalo area working while their football team, the New England Patriots, were playing in the Super Bowl. Mike Hrycin says he and other members of his crew were able to catch some of the game.

"We watched a little bit of the second half," Hrycin said. "But we worked through most of it getting the lights back on to the people here."

Hrycin and other utility workers had to battle cold temperatures and some snow today as they labored to restore power. Lake effect snow bands off Lakes Erie and Ontario dumped several inches of new snow. The National Weather Service has posted a winter storm watch for Tuesday.