WETHERSFIELD, CT — Hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents woke up in the dark Wednesday after Tropical Storm Isaias battered the state with winds that brought down trees and electrical wires.
As of Wednesday morning, there were more than 700,000 Connecticut households and businesses without electricity. There were about 618,000 Eversource customers without power and 104,000 United Illuminating customers without power.
Frank Poirot, a spokesman for Eversource, said the utility has hundreds of line and tree crews working to clear roads and repair downed wires. They also have helicopters going up to survey the 800 miles of transmission line in the state.
Poirot said they can’t begin to give restoration time estimates to customers until they estimate the damage.
“We don’t know until we get up there and see what we have to repair,” Poirot said Wednesday morning.
He said he knows customers want to know when the lights will come back on, but they are not close to offering those estimates at the moment.
“Part of the damage assessment involves areas of the distribution system,” Poirot said.
He said the “trouble spots” are located throughout the state and utility liaisons are embedded in each town incident command center.
Many of the outages in 2011 were due to trees falling on transmission lines. Since that time the utility has undertaken an aggressive tree trimming program.
In February, the utility started an $83 million tree trimming program in 131 communities.
Gov. Ned Lamont declared a state of emergency and toured damage in Wethersfield and Middletown Wednesday morning and afternoon. He’s expected to head to Eversource headquarters at 4 p.m. for another briefing with Eversource CEO James Judge.
In Wethersfield, where the winds blew the roof off an apartment building, Mayor Michael Rell, said that they have more power outages now than they did during Super Storm Sandy in 2012.
He said there are still about 30 roads that are blocked by downed trees and power lines.
Lamont said he doesn’t want to “overpromise” but “it’s going to take at least a few days,” before power is restored.
“I don’t think anybody could have been prepared for this level of extreme weather,” Lamont said.
Lamont said they are going to work to restore power over the next few days and then they will assess the performance of the utilities.
“We’ll have plenty of time for what-ifs,” Lamont said.
He said they have a thousand crews out there working to make sure everything is safe before it’s restored.
He said crews from Vermont and New Hampshire are coming down to help because northern New England was not hit as hard.
“We didn’t need this. We’re going to do everything we can to get power up as soon as we can,” Lamont said.
Lamont said they have three or four shelters that are up and running, but due to the pandemic they’re asking people to stay at home if that’s possible. There’s also a concern that people who have been working from home would look to return to the office if they have lost power at their home.
“2020 is the year that keeps on giving,” Sen. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, said.