Two people were missing and two were dead as the state moved into recovery mode Tuesday.
A firefighter in Easton died from injuries suffered when a tree fell on his truck and a 90-year-old woman in Mansfield died as she tried to get to a neighbor’s home with power Monday.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the job is to get people’s lives back to normal as quickly as possible. In an effort to get there he lifted the travel ban on state roads and will be touring some of the hardest hit areas of the state most of the afternoon.
All non-essential state employees were asked not to report to work and all schools were closed.
As the sun began to peak through the clouds Tuesday there were still more than 630,000 households without power.
“Right now my attention is 100 percent focused on getting people’s lives back to normal as quickly as possible,” Malloy said during his morning briefing.
He said the state is not as worried about the next high tide because it will be about a foot and a half less than Monday’s daytime high tide.
The state’s buses will begin running at noon today, but MetroNorth is still closed while damage is being assessed.
“We can only assume that it’s going to be a period of time to restore that system,” Malloy said.
The third high tide cycle Monday evening caused Malloy to call a press conference to warn people who had failed to heed evacuation orders to go ahead stay in their homes, rather than try to wade or drive to safety.
He said he did this because last year a Cosey Beach resident relayed a frightening story.
He said the man and his dog were on the second floor of their home when the guy decided to open a window and try to swim to shore. Luckily, the dog refused to leave and the man made the decision to stay in the house.
“He could not pull the dog into the water so he climbed back into the window of the house and as I would conclude the story he survived,” Malloy said.
“As we saw a gigantic rise in the western sound, he was in my mind,” Malloy said. “Who was going to go in the water?“
He said he wanted to make sure those people who were stranded understood the safest place they could be was in their house.
More than 630,000 residents went to bed Monday night and woke up this morning without power, but the two largest utility companies were hesitant to make any predictions about when power would be restored.
William Quinlan, senior vice president of emergency operations for Connecticut Light & Power, said their system took heavy damage Monday night.
Eleven high voltage transmission lines went out and the utility will be conducting an aerial assessment later today. The two substations in Stamford and Branford survived the storm with no damage.
During last year’s snowstorm trees took down 18 CL&P transmission lines. Trees outside the right-of-way were the culprit again, said Mitch Gross, a spokesman for CL&P. The 11 damaged transmission lines are scattered across the state.
Despite the conditions the company was able to restore power to 135,000 customers Monday evening and that restoration and recovery work will continue today.
“Many customers will be restored today, but I’m not in a position to give a projection about how long this is going to take,” Quinlan said.
In advance of those restoration effort, CL&P is dispatching 500 service electricians to reattach lines to people’s homes from the street so that their power is restored quickly.
The utility has 400 linemen in the company and has brought in 1,080 linemen from outside the state. It also has 600 tree crews.
United Illuminating, according to senior vice president Anthony Marone III, has 300 linemen and 200 tree crews working to restore power to customers in its 17 municipalities.
The utility de-energized substations in the Bridgeport area before they were flooded, which helps to protect critical parts of the infrastructure, Marone said.
The water was within a few inches of reaching some of the critical components, so even though it had to shut down power to about 52,000 customers, the move saved the substation from more severe damage and what was estimated as weeks of repairs if it had been left energized.
“It was the right decision,” Marone said. “We’ve now begun the process to re-energize those substations.”
At its peak UI had about 187,000 customers without power and has restored about 28,000 customers.
Marone did not give an estimate as to when power would be restored to its customers.