Alison Shaw

The main commercial centers of the Vineyard had power restored by late yesterday as Islanders began the slow process of hurricane recovery, and Commonwealth Electric Company officials said they expect 80 per cent of the power to be restored to the six towns by the weekend.

Company spokesman Mary Clark estimated that 2,600 of the company’s 13,000 Vineyard customers were still in the dark by late yesterday. But that translated into virtually all of Chilmark and Gay Head, large tracts of West Tisbury and Oak Bluffs, major portions of Edgartown and all of Chappaquiddick without power. At nightfall three days after the hurricane struck, the Camp Ground, East Chop, stretches along County Road and Barnes Road, North Tisbury and pieces of West Chop also remained without power.

“Honestly, the last 20 per cent is going to take a long time to do,” Mary Clark said.

The crews were numerous. Line and tree crews called in from utilities across the country worked on Island wires. State workers were dispatched to the Vineyard to help, along with members of the Nation Guard.

By late yesterday the centers of all three down-Island towns had power restored, along with the center of West Tisbury and more than half of the town. Lambert’s Cove got power back at 6 p.m.

Line crews began to creep up South Road Thursday, repairing fallen poles near the Allen Farm. The lights came back on in outlying areas in Edgartown.

“It’s like a tree, first the trunk and then the limbs and twigs and then the leaves,” Miss Clark said. “Getting the leaves is difficult,” she added.

Electrical crews from Oklahoma Maryland, New York and Vermont appeared on the Island, along with state workers, to supplement the five Island crews.

Statistics released yesterday revealed that Hurricane Bob tore down four times as many lines as Hurricane Gloria in 1985. Gloria took down 637 power lines on the Cape and Islands. Bob ripped out 2,400. But the projected time for repair is more hopeful. Full power was restored eight days after Gloria and is expected one week after Bob.

Lack of water was the greatest problem by the massive power outage. Areas with private wells, which includes all of the Vineyard save the three down-Island town centers, had no ability to pump water without electricity. Residents lined up at local fire stations, freshwater ponds and the artesian well in Gay Head to collect fresh water for cooking, bathing and flushing toilets. At many Island farms old-fashioned hand pumps connected to shallow wells were oiled and cranked into use.

The National Guard brought a 45-0-gallon camouflaged water tank to the Chilmark Community Center.