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Displaced families, discarded food and damage: dealing with impacts of Isaias

With concerns ranging from throwing out hundreds of dollars' worth of food from the fridge and freezer, to thousands of dollars' worth of property damage, to accessing life-saving medical equipment, the power outages have made the lives of many Connecticut residents more difficult in what has already been a difficult year.

Tropical Storm Isaias brought the most power outages Connecticut has seen since 2011, when outages from both Hurricane Irene and then the October snowstorm were higher.

Gales Ferry resident Danielle Andrelli said she was "very spoiled with where we had lived up until here," considering she was never without power for more than an hour when she lived on Clark Lane in Waterford.

But after Isaias, she was without power from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday night — and this was particularly problematic because she uses a breathing machine two times a day for asthma and her mother uses a bi-pap machine for severe sleep apnea.

The family went to stay with Andrelli's in-laws in Waterford. Andrelli said she would love to see a registry so that electricity restoration is prioritized for people who rely on life-saving medical devices.

On top of medical concerns, she said the pandemic has made it a particularly tough time for people to discard food, since grocery prices are so high. Andrelli also noted that she saw someone on Facebook asking for use of a freezer to store her breast milk, and a neighbor stepped up to help.

Ledyard resident Faith Ziegler Allaire said her mother is on oxygen and had to go to a hotel, but she was grateful the Motel 6 in Groton gave a discounted rate.

"I'm in grad school online, and I had a post due last night," she wrote on Facebook on Friday. "I was able to MacGuyver it from my laptop using an adapter, USB and bypassing some mobile blocking features. I feel like a technological mastermind!"

Another example of her adaptability? Having grilled Tostito rolls and veggies for dinner.

"Thank the stars for Groton Utilities!" Groton resident Haley Veroneau wrote in a response to The Day. "At least my elderly mother from Gales Ferry can stay with me and refrigerate her insulin."

Veroneau didn't lose power at all, but she said Friday morning her mother has been without power since Tuesday.

One southeastern Connecticut town that was particularly hard-hit was Old Lyme, where more than 99% of Eversource customers were without power Wednesday and more than 24% still didn't have power Friday afternoon.

Kim Thompson got power back Thursday evening but said the total estimate for repairing tree damage — a partially fallen tree missed the house but has made the yard unusable — is $10,000. She said insurance won't cover damage since the tree hasn't yet hit the fence or swing set, and when the tree comes down, only $500 will be covered.

A Pfizer researcher, Thompson said she was able to attend some Webex meetings using her phone but wasn't able to get much productive work done with her internet down.

Also hit hard was Preston, where more than 86% of Eversource customers were without power Wednesday, a figure that dropped to more than 24% by Friday evening.

Preston resident and Housing Authority Treasurer Leigh Pappas hasn't had time to sit in the dark and relax during the more than three days her family's home on Roosevelt Avenue Extension has been without power. She and other Housing Authority officials scrambled to assist the more than 40 tenants at the town's Lincoln Park senior housing complex, which lost power Tuesday through late Thursday night.

Fran Minor, municipal agent for the elderly, collected frozen food from Lincoln Park residents' freezers and stored it at the Senior Center. Pappas helped the Housing Authority install an additional air conditioner for the community room, powered by a generator, and opened it as a cooling center and place to power medical equipment.

Part of Roosevelt Avenue Extension, including the Pappas home, remained without power Friday afternoon. But Pappas said she, her husband, and children ages 15, 17 and 20 have had few hardships.

They have a generator powering the well pump and refrigerator but not the air conditioner. They've been taking showers in the family's motor home, which is charged with solar panels.

"So, I feel very, very lucky," Pappas said.

The running water is essential, Pappas said, to fill the water troughs for the family's menagerie of animals, including alpacas, donkeys, ponies, chickens, a pig, bunnies, a dog and two cats.

Day Staff Writer Claire Bessette contributed to this report.


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