BOSTON (CBS/AP) — About 12,000 Massachusetts electric customers are still without power after Tropical Storm Irene, but most are expected to be back on line before the holiday weekend.

National Grid reported Friday evening, approximately 9,000 of its customers were without power, primarily in southeastern Massachusetts. That’s down from 427,000 at the peak of the storm.

National Grid expects 98 percent of its customers to have power by the end of the day and says crews will continue to work around the clock until power is restored to all of its customers.

That would leave fewer than 5,000 homes without power.

NStar says less than 1,500 of the homes and businesses it services are powerless Friday.

The utility expects all customers to have power Friday night.

Read: State Rep. Wants Utilities To Give Rebates

The utilities have been subject to intense criticism from politicians and homeowners who say response times were slow and outreach efforts to customers poor.

WBZ-TV’s Kathy Curran reports from Stoughton

About 100 senior citizens are still waiting for some relief in Stoughton. Maintenance crews made the rounds offering water and prepared meals but the elderly in the La Civita Court housing project are struggling with no hot water and no power for days.

Resident Dave Milley said, “I say to National Grid get off your duff and get out here, some people are on oxygen, many in their 90’s, it’s frustrating.”

Town Manager Frank Crimmins says if he was in the business of giving a grade to National Grid it would be very low. That’s because two things were lacking from National Grid’s response, crews and communication.

While visiting the housing project Friday afternoon a perfect example of the disconnect rolled by. Town officials have been asking National Grid to make the seniors a priority since the storm hit six days ago but a National Grid crew rolls in to check and see if there were any problems with the power late Friday.

Crimmins adds, “We cannot get someone who takes out priority and makes it their priority.”

The head of the state’s department of public utilities says they’ll be reviewing staffing levels, communications and response by all of the utility companies involved.

Commissioner David Cash said, “There was a lot of frustration from municipal officials who didn’t have the right information at the right time and that’s never helpful when moving forward with an emergency response.”

Because back in Stoughton many like 72-year-old Nancy White are still wondering, “What have they been doing, really what have they been doing.”

Read: National Grid President Went To Hawaii Before Irene Hit

The companies have said Irene was an unusual weather event and their crews have been working around the clock.

WBZ-TV’s Kathy Curran contributed to this story.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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