The executives from the state’s two utility companies said Friday that progress is being made, but that progress still means little to residents and businesses still in the dark.
As of Friday morning, Connecticut Light & Power reported there were 148,000 customers in the dark, while United Illuminating reported 22,201 customers without power as of 7 a.m.
In a morning conference call, Jeffrey Butler, president and CEO of CL&P, said there are still towns in the southwestern portion of the state such as Ridgefield, Redding, Weston, and Wilton without power. And the company is still struggling to get power restored to the eastern portion of the state.
United Illuminating still has a thousands of customers without power in Fairfield, Bridgeport, Hamden, and Stratford.
Butler said the company focused on getting power restored to the town centers in towns that were still 100 percent in the dark, so residents could at least get to the gas station or the grocery store. He expects power to be restored to most of its customers by Monday night and all of its customers by Wednesday.
There are still some towns completely in the dark.
The town of Sterling is one of them because crews are still working on the lines that go into the town, Butler said. Sterling is at the end of that part of the electrical grid.
Cumulatively over the course of the storm CL&P identified 10,000 trouble spots, and had 2,100 road closures due to down wires, Butler said.
Essex First Selectman Phil Miller, who is also a state representative, said Thursday that things were beginning to improve in his part of the state. He said about 50 percent of Essex and Deep River saw their power restored. He said Chester and Haddam were at about 90 percent restored.
He said they’ve been serving three hot meals to people at various locations and have dozens of people spending the night at their shelter. He said people have also been showering at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River. He said they’ve also used the reverse 911 system to get information to residents and have a good network of neighbors who have been checking on the elderly.
“By day four and five everyone is exhausted,” Miller said. “It was a significant wind event and most of the time since the storm has been spent cleaning up hazards and fallen trees.”
Most of those hazards have been picked up and the work to restore power has begun.
Rep. Pamela Sawyer, R-Bolton, said Thursday that the towns of Andover, Hebron, and Marlborough are at the end of the electrical grid and will likely be some of the last to be restored.
She said her biggest concern is residents inability to use their indoor plumbing because the sewer systems these towns were forced to install don’t work without electricity. She said residents forced to install “grinders” in their home to move the sewage uphill have been unable to use their bathrooms.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday evening that there were still five state roads closed due mostly to hazards such as down trees or wires.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has identified 132 homes that were destroyed or severely damaged in the storm, Malloy said.
But it will still be awhile before a total price tag is put on the storm. Malloy urged residents to call 211 and report their damage to the state, which will help it secure federal funding.
About 70 businesses have sought help from the state, but some of those may be able to piggyback on the Small Business Administration’s disaster declaration in New York state. Malloy said since Fairfield and Litchfield Counties border New York they will be eligible for help under that disaster declaration.
Businesses sustaining damage will also be eligible for state assistance, including bridge financing and loans covering uninsured losses, through Department of Economic and Community Development.
To brighten up the situation, Malloy has order the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to waive all daily state park fees for the Labor Day holiday weekend.
The free admission to state parks and beaches applies only through Labor Day and does not apply to state park campgrounds, where normal camping fees will be charged. At some parks that are open, some services may not be available and some areas will be marked as off limits due to storm damage
“We know there are still many residents of our state waiting for the power to come back on and still working to recover from the storm,” DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said. “But we hope that as many people as possible will take advantage of the governor’s offer and get outside to enjoy a relaxing day at one of our parks over the holiday.”
For a list of state parks and beaches that are open visit: http://www.ct.gov/Irene