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Tens of thousands without power in Mass. after severe thunderstorm

Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Tens of thousands of people in Massachusetts remained without power Saturday afternoon after thunderstorms took down power lines across the state.

An online outage map maintained by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency showed 32,400 customers were without power as of 3:30 p.m. EDT.

The largest number of people without power live in Andover, north of Boston. Outages affected customers of the company's Eversource and National Grid.

"WOW, what an evening!" the Andover Police Department said in a statement after the storm.

Local officials said the town is supporting efforts to restore power after two of the city's primary power supplies experienced "significant damage."

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"The damage to the primary power supplies will result in significant delays in restoring power. It is expected that power outages will continue into tomorrow," they said in a Facebook post.

Emergency crews spent Saturday clearing downed trees from roads and officials warned there would be delays in removing the debris, which is expected to take several days.

"The town is encouraging residents to use extreme caution when traveling on roads or sidewalks," the officials said. "Live wires can be difficult to identify and are often obstructed by limbs or other storm debris."

Middlesex County west of Boston was also hit hard by the storm, with thousands of customers suffering outages.

The "fast-moving" storm brought wind gusts of over 55 mph in some areas, power utility National Grid said in a statement.

"National Grid has secured additional crews and personnel across Massachusetts to repair the damage caused by this storm," said Tim Moore, vice president for electric operations for New England.

"We are currently working to assess the damage, address public safety and will be working to restore power as quickly as we safely can."

On Saturday, meanwhile, thunderstorms pummeled North Carolina, with frequent lightning and heavy rains dropping as much as 1 1/2 inches of water in some places, according to the National Weather Service in Raleigh, N.C.

A flash flood warning was issued in Wake County, N.C., until 4:30 p.m. and "hazardous weather" alerts were in effect for most of central North Carolina, urging residents to beware of damaging wind gusts.

The strong storms forced a delay in the college football game between North Carolina State and Notre Dame, which was stopped in the second quarter when lightning appeared near Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.