Hundreds of state roads are still closed, 200 cellphone towers are damaged, and a handful of state office buildings remain closed as the state deals with the a “historic” power outage which left at its peak more than 880,000 customers in the dark.
Connecticut Light & Power President and CEO Jeff Butler said Monday that there are still 18 transmission lines without power, but by the end of the day he expects to have 575 line and tree crews working to assess and repair the damage caused by the October snowstorm.
During Tropical Storm Irene the company was criticized for not being able to get more crews to the state fast enough to help with repair and restoration efforts, which left customers in the dark in some cases for more than a week. This time cold temperatures has made the situation even more urgent. There were about 765,000 customers in the dark during Tropical Storm Irene.
“Restoration is ongoing but the key priority right now is the road clearing. We’ve gotta get those roads cleared,“ Butler said. “I know in a some parts of the state people cannot leave their property and then the transmission in many parts of the northwest we’ve gotta get those transmission systems back in place and the tension wires energized.“
He said the focus is to complete assessments today, but they are trying to get specific information to their municipal liaisons. He said one of the lessons learned from Tropical Storm Irene was better communication with municipalities and customers. He said the company has one crew in every town working with the town to assess the damage.
It’s unlikely the company will have any estimated restoration times available for residents left in the cold and the dark, but Butler said they should have a better idea by the end of today where those restoration efforts stand.
“The Department of Transportation estimates the damage was five times more with this event than Irene when it comes to trees,” Butler said. “Vegetation is significant issue we have to deal with as we move forward if we’re going to improve reliability overall for the state of Connecticut.”
Currently about 156,000 CL&P customers have been restored. More than 741,000 still had no power Monday morning.
United Illuminating, which covers 17 towns in the New Haven area, expects to have all of its customers restored by the end of the day.
UI President Jim Torgerson said 45,000 customers have had their power restored and they expect to restore the remaining 8,500 by the end of the day. At that point they will release 70 crews to CL&P to help them with their restoration efforts.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who will take an aerial tour of the damage Monday morning, said “Unlike Irene we have transmission problems so the reason that you’re seeing so many towns without power in totality is that the transmission lines that serve those towns are damaged.”
“This is going to be a long term event,” Malloy said. “This has been an unbelievable storm causing unbelievable damage.”
There are currently about 50 shelters opened across the state and 39 warming and charging stations for residents looking to take a shower, charge their cellphones, and get a little warmth. Those looking to find one should call 2-1-1 or visit the website www.211ct.com.
It’s sunny out and temperatures are expected to climb to about 44 degrees today, but tonight they will drop off to around 34 degrees according to the National Weather Service.
Thousands of people sought shelter at community centers and schools last night and it’s expected many more will do so today as the heat in their homes dissipates.