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Some signs of improvement, but many are still in the dark

By Jennifer McDermott

Publication: theday.com

Published November 02. 2012 6:00AM   Updated November 03. 2012 12:41AM
Tim Cook/The Day
Matt Stark unloads storm debris from the back of his pickup into an ever growing pile of drift wood, brush, and rubbish along West End Drive in the Hawks Nest Beach section of Old Lyme Friday, Nov. 2, 2012. Stark's parents own a cottage on West End Drive and he was helping to clean up storm debris from the property. Among the items that Stark found was a buoy registered from New York State.

Friday night, 142,038 CL&P customers still had no power. Outages statewide peaked at more than 500,000 earlier in the week.

Nearly two-thirds of Ledyard residents and half of Old Lyme and Stonington residents were without power Friday night. In East Lyme, only 20 percent of CL&P customers were still in the dark. Two days earlier, the entire town had no power.

Hurricane Sandy brought strong wind gusts that knocked down trees and power lines. Some of the hardest hit towns were in our region, but there are signs of improvement.

CL&P is reporting that 50 percent of its customers in East Lyme are in the dark — two days earlier the entire town had no power.

Stonington is also seeing improvement. CL&P is reporting today that 56 percent of customers are in the dark, compared to 81 percent on Thursday.

First Selectman Ed Haberek said he is much happier this morning as CL&P has now assigned 19 crews to restore power in town.

"We're in a full court process to get the lights back on," said Haberek who has been critical of CL&P's response to restore power and clear downed lines over the past few days.

"I'm very pleased with the amount of crews we have today for restoration," he said. "CL&P is looking at us as being a critical area."

At one point this morning more than 20 utility trucks were parked behind the Human Services Department which is acting as staging area. Crews are then sent out to fix problems.

All blocked roads in town have now been cleared but wires are still down on trees.

Downtown Pawcatuck had power restored last night. Much of Mystic has been restored including the Stone Ridge retirement community and Pendleton rehabilitation facility.

Crews are currently working to restore power along the Route 1 corridor and along Greenhaven Road. This could bring power to Stonington Arms and Edythe K. Richmond elderly housing projects, both of which Haberek visited this morning.

Rich Rogozinski, the town's CL & P liaison, said this morning one priority is to restore power to the Stonington borough firehouse.

It could still be a while before power is restored to the borough and Masons Island.

Haberek said his morning he would again be willing to look at the feasibility of extending electrical service provided by Groton Utilities into Stonington to replace CL&P.

He said there would be large infrastructure costs and it would have to make economic sense for both the utility and the town.

Customers of Groton Utilities quickly had their power restored after the storm. Many Stonington residents receive phone, cable television and Internet service from Thames Valley Communications, a subsidiary of Groton Utilities.

North Stonington now leads area towns with 72 percent of CL&P's customers without electricity.

Outages in Ledyard, Lyme, Old Lyme, Preston, Salem and Stonington all ranged between 48 percent and 67 percent. In Waterford, New London and Groton outages hovered between 11 to 30 percent.

Groton Emergency Management Director Joseph Sastre said those without power, including downtown Mystic, should plan to be without power for the weekend, though things could change. CL&P said 2,529 customers are still in the dark.

Sastre said CL&P has joined with out-of-state crews to work on the five main circuits.

"You fix the big pipelines first, work in the neighborhoods coming off those lines and then the lines feeding individual streets," Sastre said. "We have crews in town actively working. It takes time."

Sastre said he has seen crews from as far away as Missouri and Florida. ATT is also working on their utility poles.

For those people with damage to a service wire running from the street to their home, Sastre said they need to report the problem to CL&P.

Groton Utilities, meanwhile, reported on Thursday that they had restored power to all but a half dozen of its 12,600 customers.

Sastre said he expects the Federal Emergency Management Agency will set up a Disaster Recovery Center at the Groton Senior Center in the days to come. A center was set up in the wake of last year's Tropical Storm Irene for people to make claims for individual assistance beyond what their insurance will take care of.

If people anticipate they would need to make a claim for federal assistance, they need to register with the federal government online or call to create a file number. To register call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The number is 1-800-462-7585 for people with speech or hearing disabilities. Lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Online registration is available at www.disasterassistance.gov.

Updates are available at www.groton-ct.gov or the Facebook page of the Groton Department of Emergency Management.

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