(Updated 12:57 p.m.) Connecticut residents woke up Sunday morning to fallen tree limbs and impassable roads. More than 800,000 customers were without power as of noon Sunday.
The October snowstorm caused the largest power outage in the state’s history and officials from Connecticut Light & Power, which had 805,000 customers out of power Sunday, warned that many will be without power for a week or more.
Roughly 60 percent of CL&P’s customers are in the dark and the close to 300 line and tree crews will spend most of today assessing the damage and responding to emergencies. A CL&P spokeswoman said they’re reaching out to town officials to discuss which areas should receive power back first.
CL&P has about 8,000 trouble spots and thousands of downed lines.
United Illuminating, which serves 17 towns in the New Haven area, has about 16,000 customers without power anticipates having its customers restored by Monday evening. After that it will offer its available crews to CL&P.
“Obviously this is a historic storm,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Sunday morning during his first press briefing.
He said he has declared a state of emergency and has asked President Barack Obama to declare Connecticut a disaster area so it can receive federal aid. He doesn’t anticipate the federal disaster relief will include personal aid to homeowners who may have lost food during the storm.
The power outages also means several AT&T customers will begin to lose service because 164 towers are damaged or have lost power. Generators are being brought in, but during Hurricane Irene the company did not have enough generators to power all the towers that lost power during that storm. The lines going to many of the towers were disconnected making it a more difficult situation than during Hurricane Irene.
“This is going to be a very difficult situation, more difficult than we experienced in Irene,” Malloy said. “Cell coverage is expected to degrade throughout the day.”
Malloy also said they’ve heard from a cable company who has about 90 percent of its customers out.
During a 10 a.m. conference call with local town officials Malloy said the biggest concern was communication with the utilities, who made it very clear that “safety is the issue of the day.”
He said the biggest concern at this point is getting streets open and CL&P has to play a role in that because tree limbs on power lines can’t be touched by local municipal crews. He said they’re seeing a growing number of power outages because of limbs snapping back up and taking down lines. He said just this morning 80,000 customers lost power.
“This is a growing problem, not a shrinking problem,” Malloy said.
There were about 150 roads closed in New Britain and up to 200 roads closed in other Greater Hartford communities. Most of Park Road and Matianuck Avenue in Windsor was blocked by downed trees and wires.
And as of noon there were six hospitals operating on generator power, including Mid-State Medical Center, Middlesex Hospital, Johnson Memorial Hospital, Manchester, Rockville, and Charlotte Hungerford.
Anyone in need of shelter is asked to call 2-1-1, but Malloy urged patience since the center is receiving a record number of phone calls. CL&P is asking customers without power to report it by calling 800.286.2000. They don’t anticipate have restoration estimates available yet, but urged customers to call so they know where the outages are along the grid. Click here for the outage report.
State employees will be expected to report to work tomorrow as normal, but Malloy said he will have more information about that at his 6 p.m. briefing.
“In general, we anticipate most state buildings being open,” Malloy said.
Malloy also reopened the Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkway as of 11 a.m. Sunday, but urged residents to stay home if they can.
About 1,500 passengers were stranded at Bradley International Airport Saturday night. They were provided with cots and water by the state. Malloy said he was at the airport until about 1 a.m. He said they’re doing their best to get passengers to their destinations.