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On Tuesday, PSNH line workers Dan Cowette, top left, and Ron Houle hang wires which were ripped down when a pine tree fell in Monday's storm on Proctor Road in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Trick-or-treating, school on in Manchester

MANCHESTER - Life in the city has largely returned to normal in the wake of Hurricane Sandy - and there may be no greater sign of this when the streets fill with zombies and vampires this evening.

The city will be having trick-or-treating tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. after school officials determined it was safe for kids to return to class today, after two canceled days due to the storm and its aftermath.

Police Chief David Mara said he gave the go-ahead for trick-or-treating based on the determination that roads and sidewalks were clear of debris and safe for kids to walk to school.

"If it's safe for kids to go school ..., it's safe to go trick-or-treating," Mara said. "We worked with the highway, fire and school departments to make sure of that."

Trick-or-treating on Halloween is a relatively recent phenomenon in Manchester, upending the long-standing tradition of holding the event the Sunday afternoon before the holiday.

Despite the progress made in clearing debris and restoring power, pockets of the city are still without electricity.

There were about 2,000 Public Service of New Hampshire customers without power Tuesday night, down from a peak of 6,500 the night before. The utility company projects that all service will be restored by the end of the week.

One major building downtown, the 19-story office tower at 900 Elm St., lost power and its occupants had to be evacuated by the fire department Tuesday morning.

"The building has been shut down all day, and it's still in shut-down status," Michael McCluskey, the executive director of the law firm McLane, Graf, Raulerson and Middleton, said Tuesday evening.

The building has its own transformers, and PSNH workers won't be able to restore power to the building until electricians complete repairs to the transformers, McCluskey said.

A spokesman for PSNH said the problem was "an internal issue, involving customer-owned transformers, not PSNH equipment."

It's not clear if the outage at the building is connected to the storm.

Mayor Ted Gatsas said on the whole he was pleased with the city's response to the storm.

"We were well-prepared, and I applaud the city departments for being as ready as they were and in taking care of the situation as well as they did," he said.

The city was able to close its Emergency Operations Center at 2 p.m. Tuesday, a day after the center was opened.

In response to a freak October snowstorm at this time last year, schools were closed for most of the week due to safety concerns over downed wires and trees, and trick-or-treating was delayed.

There was one casualty of Hurricane Sandy: The Board of Mayor and Aldermen scheduled for Monday won't be held until next Thursday, after the election.

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Ted Siefer may be reached at tsiefer@unionleader.com...

        

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