Many towns still in the dark; Groton, Norwich utilities restore power
Connecticut Light & Power is reporting that 318,443 customers still have no electricity.
CL&P's website indicates that 93 percent to 99 percent of its customers in Stonington, Lyme, East Lyme, Salem and Old Lyme are without power, while more than 50 percent of residents in Ledyard, Preston and Waterford are also in the dark.
Frank Poirot, spokesman at CL&P, said system-wide restoration times will be available Thursday.
He said the utility is transitioning from damage-assessment mode to full restoration. Poirot, however, said hardest hit towns like East Lyme, which is completely in the dark, are still in damage-assessment mode.
First Selectman Paul Formica said he would refrain from commenting on CL&P's response to the town until after a 10 a.m. conference call it has with the utility company.
Many in the town are not happy with CL&P's response, said Dick Morris, emergency management director. He deferred comment to Formica.
Poirot said any comparisons to their response to Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Sandy is a bit premature.
"There is a deliberate and safe process to follow in order to restore power," said Poirot. "No two storms are alike so you can't compare them. We improve with every restoration."
Poirot said CL&P is working with local public works crews to clear the streets. He said many trees are tangled with wires and they have to make sure that they are not live.
Poirot also said that many roadways are blocked by trees, which local town workers have to remove, so their trucks can get through.
He said at the storm's peak more than 500,000 customers were without power and the company has since restored more than 300,000.
Poirot said there are more than 1,000 line workers in the state and expects more line workers as they are released from neighboring utility companies.
He said a satellite work area will be established sometime today at the Waterford Speedbowl.
"The thinking behind that is to have our crews close to the damage so they don't waste time driving around," said Poirot.
In Ledyard, the number of residents without power is up about 30 percent from yesterday, according to the CL&P outage map.
Mayoral Assistant Mark Bancroft said just one CL&P crew is in town, but only to cut trees out of any power lines they are tangled in. No restoration crews have been seen in town as of about 2 p.m., he said. While a CL&P representative is in town, Bancroft said she has not been able to provide any answers about power restoration.
"CL&P will not make a commitment to anything," he said. "We don't even know if we're going to get crews.
About 90 percent of customers in Ledyard are without power as of about 2 p.m.
Groton Utilities hopes to have the lights back on for all of its 12,600 customers by this evening, according to Herb Cummings, Groton Utilities manager of electric.
The municipally-owned power company has already made significant progress reaching that goal. From a peak of about 6,000 homes without power, line crews have reduced that number to about 250 customers as of noon Wednesday.
"We think that almost everybody will be restored by 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. tonight," Cummings said. "We're doing everything we can."
There are some homes with damage that may need work done by an electrician, Cummings said.
Hard hit areas included Groton Long Point, which was completely out in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. At 1 p.m. Wednesday, there were still 180 of the 556 total Groton Long Point customers without power. Cummings said several utility poles on Groton Long Point were left leaning by the storm surge. Parts of Shennecossett Road also sustained damage with trees and wires down.
Cummings said Groton Utilities had called in help from utility crews in Vermont.
For more information visit www.grotonutilities.com or the City of Groton's new Facebook page.
The number of residents without power was up about 30 percent Wednesday evening, according to the CL&P outage map.
Mayoral Assistant Mark Bancroft said just one CL&P crew was in town Wednesday, but only to cut trees out of any power lines. Bancroft said the town had no idea why power outages rose to 89 percent of the town Wednesday evening; that percentage had been 62 percent earlier in the day. A downed tree limb may have caused some additional outages, but the limb alone didn’t account for the drastic jump, Bancroft said.
The town's CL&P representative had said restoration crews would be arriving Wednesday evening. In addition, CL&P would send more line crews to clear trees and power lines Thursday, the representative said.
Ledyard Public Works crews will be wrapping up work for the day at 7 p.m. and will be back on the road at 7 a.m. Thursday.
Melissa Hollingsworth and her family have become experts in hurricane preparedness over the last 14 months.
Tropical Storm Irene left them without power for seven days in their home here off Raymond Hill Road. This morning they were going into their third day without power because of widespread outages throughout town caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Hollingsworth and three of her children visited the Leonard J. Tyl Middle School this morning to take showers at the school. They were aware the school was open by checking the Internet at the Otis Library in Norwich.
They've been busy at home moving perishable food to their deep freezer and taking other precautions to make it through the aftermath of the storm.
"We're doing fine. You learn how to live differently," Hollingsworth said a few minutes after using a hand dryer in a Tyl bathroom to dry her hair. "We did this for seven days last year and we know how the routine will go."
Connecticut Light & Power reported at noon today that 65 percent of the town was without power. Approximately 5,200 of the utility company's customers in town were still waiting for their service to be restored.
Power is still out on sections of Route 32 and crews are working to restore power to the town's wastewater treatment plant. It is currently running on a generator.
Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel Jr. said there have been a few issues with CL&P and its contractors. For instance, crews in town yesterday waited about four hours for direction orders and didn't start working on clearing many roads until 1 p.m., McDaniel said.
That caused crews to lose about four or five hours of valuable work time, although things have since improved.
"They responded far better today so far," the mayor said. "They're doing a bang-up job today of getting roads open and we do have restoration crews in town."
The middle school will remain open until 7 tonight for people who wish to take showers or fill up water jugs at the school's pump station. The Montville Firehouse is the main base for public works, police and other crews in town. People are encouraged to visit that firehouse or the town's three others – Chesterfield, Oakdale or Mohegan – for water or to charge their cell phones.
At about 11:15 this morning, Raymond Occhialini, the town's fire marshal and emergency response director, received a pallet of bottled water from the National Guard. The bottled water will be available at the town's social services office near the Town Hall.
McDaniel has instructed townspeople to use discretion when deciding whether to allow their children to participate tonight in Halloween trick or treating. He said that roads without street lights may be unsafe.
Norwich Public Utilities
Fifty-five Norwich Public Utilities customers remain without power late this afternoon, with a particularly troublesome spot on Vergason Avenue affecting about 40 customers.
NPU General Manager John Bilda said several crews are working on Vergason Avenue, where the system caught fire as crews were working on the outage.
Power outages remain the same today as when the storm hit, with 94 percent of the town still without power.
Town and CL&P crews on Wednesday cleared a large number of roads that had been blocked since the storm by downed trees and wires. Two locations on River Road in Pawcatuck, and one each on Palmer Street and upper Al Harvey Road are still blocked by trees. Fifteen locations still have branches on power lines.
First Selectman Ed Haberek said he anticipates the town will have a better picture of when power can be restored on Thursday. The town received more crews from CL&P Wednesday after Haberek criticized the utility on Tuesday.
"I think their overall planning after the past storm (Tropical Storm Irene) didn't calculate the crews they would need," Haberek said. "We're going into our third day and we're far behind the last storm. CL&P needs to understand that it takes a crew one to three hours to fix a problem, so with two or three crews you don't get anywhere."
With cold temperatures predicted for coming nights, emergency officials are considering reopening the shelter at the high school.
On Thursday morning, volunteers plan to move 250 frozen Thanksgiving turkeys from the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center which has been without power since the storm hit to Mystic Middle School.
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