Were you charging your electronics and refreshing the Connecticut Light & Power outage map Tuesday as 60 mph winds tested tree limbs across the state? You probably weren’t alone.
Social media outlets lit up Tuesday night with Connecticut users posting and tweeting about the foreboding weather.
According to psychologist Lawrence Haber of Hartford Hospital, that’s probably because the long-term power outages following Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm have some Connecticut residents a little traumatized.
“Being without power for that prolonged period for many individuals was a traumatic event,” he said. “Anything that resembles that event may trigger a kind of flashback.”
Haber said that sounds and smells are powerful memory triggers. The sound of tree limbs snapping Tuesday were unwelcome reminders for some residents, he said.
“Those were the sounds you heard that night,” he said.
And if you plugged in your laptop and began charging your mobile device, it was likely due to the unconscious desire to take control of what you can when faced with an event you cannot control, he said.
Unlike more severe traumatic events, Haber said the storm-related anxiety is probably temporary. It stems from the fact that the two long-term outages happened to fall so close together and last night’s wind storm was close enough to those events to re-traumatize some, he said.
“Given the nature of what occurred, if this were one year from now I don’t think as many people would have had this experience,” he said. “My guess is if we have no problems for a couple of years it will fade.”
Depending on your luck, you may have been more traumatized by Tuesday’s wind and rain than others. According to CL&P spokeswoman Katie Blint, at peak hours about 18,000 customers saw their lights go out again. The utility has restored about 34,000 customers so far, she said. That number continues to grow today as high winds keep the CL&P outage map in fluctuation.
Blint wouldn’t speculate as to whether customers were traumatized but said outages have been difficult for a lot of people. However, she said there may be an upside to residents being more conscious of the weather.
“I think everyone is more aware of weather events and what’s required to be prepared,” she said. They also have a better understanding of what goes in to a power restoration effort, she said.
The fact that residents are taking steps like charging their phones makes them better prepared to cope with the outages, she said. The two storms have also left an impression on the utility, which she said is taking steps to harden its infrastructure and communicate better.
“We’re all in this together,” she said.
United Illuminating also reported more than 5,400 customers out in Bridgeport and a few hundred out in some of its 15 other towns.