As mayors and first selectmen were seething Friday on the seventh night without power for many homeowners in their towns, Gov.
Malloy, the mayors, and citizens across the state continued complaining that the Connecticut Light and Power Co. has not been moving fast enough as 282,000 customers were still without power Friday night.
Local officials said that CL&P would be held responsible if anyone dies because emergency crews couldn't reach them in areas where power lines are still down and electricity is still out.
“It’s on their heads,’’ said
The complaints from mayors and first selectmen came on the same day that President
After an initial snag, Connecticut will now be eligible for funding for debris removal, as well as overtime, fuel, and equipment in all 8 counties around the state. The state had originally been designated for a lower level of funding, but that changed on Friday.
"I appreciate President Obama granting this designation," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. "But while this is good news for the state, and our cities and towns, there is much more work to be done. This really is the beginning of our state's recovery from this devastating October storm, and even after power is fully restored, we'll have weeks – and even months – of recovery on an individual and state, city and town basis."
The state has not yet received any indication whether individuals would be eligible for reimbursements - as was the case during Tropical Storm Irene in August along the East Coast.
The deadline for seeking those reimbursements has been extended to November 15 for businesses and homeowners. Many homeowners in the hard-hit Cosey Beach section of
In another development, Malloy announced a consulting firm led by former FEMA director James Lee Witt will conduct a complete review of the response by CL&P and the United Illuminating Company in the wake of the storm. The firm, Witt Associates, will perform the work for free, and Malloy arranged the review after a conversation with a fellow Democratic governor, Martin O'Malley of Maryland. Witt's firm, which specializes in crisis management, has pledged to finish the review by December 1.
"As soon as everyone's lights are back on, we need to have a very timely, thorough review of the power companies' performances, to identify what went wrong, why it went wrong, and most importantly, identify solutions for the short-term before the next winter storm impacts Connecticut," Malloy said.
The storm has become one of the worst in Connecticut history with widespread power outages for a week and at least eight deaths. By Friday night, 322 people had been poisoned by carbon monoxide by operating gasoline-powered generators or charcoal grills inside or too close to their homes. Overall, emergency supplies had been delivered by the National Guard to 82 towns, and 80 shelters were open Friday night as the temperatures dropped sharply.
Mayors and first selectmen in the hard-hit Farmington Valley towns had a special meeting Friday to receive a detailed plan from CL&P, where the company maintained its longstanding pledge of restoring 99 percent of customers by midnight Sunday.
But many officials are skeptical of that schedule.
"We don't think that's possible,'' Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman said in an interview Friday. "We've seen the devastation. We've seen the trees. We've seen the lines.''
Simsbury public schools and the nearby St. Mary's School on Route 10 have already been closed for the entire week, and now they will be closed on Monday, too.
"We don't think the bus routes are safe,'' said Glassman, adding that Simsbury High School has become a major shelter that houses 1,500 residents. With the temperatures dropping Friday, the situation was not getting better.
The school schedule is fluid, but as of Friday night, the Simsbury schools were scheduled to be reopened on Tuesday – election day. Ballots are traditionally cast in multiple schools around town, but the election has been consolidated to one location at the Henry James Memorial School in the center of town.
In the small town of Union along the Massachusetts border, First Selectman Andy Goodhall expressed his outrage Friday in an e-mail that was sent to two Republican legislators in his district. He said that Union, one of the few towns still listed as "black'' in the CL&P map for the highest outages in the state, was supposed to receive additional crews that had been promised – and did not arrive.
“I have been lied to. This is unacceptable,’’ Goodhall wrote in his e-mail. “Enough is enough. They should not make false promises! I have been patient and co-operative to this point. I promised I would be, unless I was lied to. I have been.’’
He finished the e-mail by writing, “
On a tour of the region Friday, U.S. Senator
The damage was so bad at the height of the storm last Saturday that Glassman, the first selectman, was unable to return to her home because the roads were blocked with trees. As a result, she slept at town hall on Saturday night.
By mid-day Friday, residents noted that there was relatively little progress and little change in the situation in Simsbury. Townwide, 84 percent of customers were still without power.
Some residents reported that they had not seen any National Guard troops in town, but Glassman rejected that notion.
“That’s not true. I hugged them,’’ Glassman said of her reaction to seeing the troops in town.
The Guard worked extensively on Lincoln Lane and Old Meadow Plain, which are both in the southern end of Simsbury near the
Colonel John Whitford, a spokesman for the Guard, said that 168 Guardsmen had been working in Simsbury, as well as in hard-hit areas of Avon and
"CL&P is giving us the streets and telling us where to go,'' Whitford said. "Our side is to clear the road and push it off to the side. They need to go first. We're under the assumption that the lines are still live. We're there until told otherwise.''
Besides helping in moving trees and branches, the Guard has delivered more than 500,000 bottles of water and 330,000 ready-made meals to 81 towns across the state. Those supplies were made available by the federal government and were sent to towns that had requested help.
Even though about 84 percent of Simsbury was still out by mid-day Friday, power had been restored to a portion of the central business district along Route 10 – allowing the opening of town hall, the town library, the popular Metro Bis restaurant, and the
Earlier, six of the seven Democratic members of the state’s U.S. Congressional delegation signed a letter that requested an investigation in CL&P’s response to the storm. As of Friday, about 300,000 customers were still without power.
The Congress members, including U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Joseph I. Lieberman, asked Jon Wellinghoff, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to decide whether CL&P violated the Energy Policy Act of 2005 because it restored power to other Northeast states faster than to Connecticut.
“We are also deeply troubled by the reliability of the electric system in Connecticut, as this is the second major power disruption in the last two months. It has also come to our attention that utility customers in the State of Connecticut waited longer than any other state to have their power restored,” the letter states. “As a result, we request that you investigate Connecticut Light & Power and