Power returns to Preston plaza after several hours in the dark

Preston — A commercial plaza that went without electricity for almost a week after last year's Tropical Storm Irene was again without power from Tuesday night until 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Ken Zachem, owner of Lu-Mac's Package Store on Route 2, said after last year's prolonged outage he requested that the commercial plaza be connected to a commercial power line. That request was never completed, he said, and all the stores near his were without electricity after Tuesday night's damaging wind and rain storm knocked the power out around 9:40 p.m.

"We're the biggest commercial plaza in town, and we've been out of power for 15, 20 hours," Zachem said. "Preston has no population or tax base to make these big companies move."

Outages statewide were down to about 3,600 around 8:30 p.m., according to the Connecticut Light & Power website. CL&P spokesman Mitch Gross said Wednesday that number was down from a high of about 32,000 Tuesday night. Gross had no estimates on when power would be restored for individual towns, but said 2,000 people are working on the restoration effort, including crewmembers from CL&P's sister companies around New England.

"We're pushing as hard as we can to get everybody back," Gross said. "We understand some customers are getting impatient, but we can assure them we are doing everything we can and pushing to get everyone back on."

Zachem said he is open and doing business — he has no perishable items. But he said there is ice cream at the store next door and two restaurants in the plaza were relying on portable generators until power was restored.

Zachem said he's emailed and called Preston First Selectman Robert Congdon, state Sen. Andrew Maynard and state Rep. Tom Reynolds to encourage action and to prevent this same situation from repeating itself.

"Preston don't have the votes or the population to get things fixed in a timely manner," Zachem said.

s.goldstein@theday.com

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