Saying the breadth and power of Hurricane Irene prevented some 400 line and tree workers from coming to the state as quickly as desired, officials with Connecticut Light & Power on Tuesday said some customers likely will not get power back until Sunday.
Some 150 additional workers are expected to arrive through Thursday to help restore power, CL&P President and COO Jeff Butler said during a press briefing.
“Even though we’ve made tremendous progress in the first 36 hours in restoring 400,000 customers—and I expect to see good progress continue—I still expect some portion of the customers that have been impacted by this event, just because of the sheer magnitude that our system is seeing, to go a week or more [through Sunday],” Butler said.
“I don’t expect it to be anywhere near where we’re at today, but given the magnitude of the damage of what we’ve seen, I expect that we’ll have customers out of power for a week or more during this entire event and that’s one of the reasons we continue to go out and seek more crews,” he continued. “We’re doing everything possible to bring more resources into this state to expedite as much as possible the restoration for all of our customers. We will not back down from our EOC [Emergency Operating Center] status until all of our customers have been restored.”
Crews arriving Tuesday include workers flying in from Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, Butler said. CL&P has equipment ready for those workers. Other crew members are driving in with their own equipment, from states as far away as Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, Alabama and Colorado, he said.
As Irene took shape and delayed planes and closed roads, the Berlin-based utility was forced to make do with fewer workers than it had planned for—plans that were made in earnest last Wednesday, Butler said.
“We were told that a certain number of crews would be arriving at certain times and what we found was two things,” he said. “First of all, they didn’t necessarily arrive when they told us they would arrive. And when they got here, there were quite a few changes with fewer crews than what they told us they were going to send, and in a couple of cases, significantly fewer crews.”
The comments echo much of what Butler said during a with Gov. Dannel Malloy.
The comments also come on the heels of from that CL&P failed to respond quickly enough to widespread power outages. Several Connecticut towns saw 100 percent of CL&P customers without power in Irene’s wake, prompting municipalities to open up emergency shelters even as many districts still don’t know when school will start.
In Hartford and Tolland counties, towns such as Tolland and Ellington saw improvements overnight, though many towns in Tolland County remain largely without power. Here’s a snapshot of where things stood as of 8 a.m. Tuesday:Town Total Homes w/o Power Percentage of Customers Windsor
12 East Windsor
“As we look at the restoration, we continue to focus on areas where we can restore power to the largest number of customers in the soonest timeframe, so that continues to be the focus,” Butler said.
Priorities have included restoring power to hospitals, schools and wastewater treatment facilities, Butler said.
Here are some numbers Butler provided during the press briefing:
- As fo 6 a.m. Tuesday, the total number of homes without power statewide had been reduced to 421,883 customers
- A total of 399,659 customers’ power had been restored since Saturday
- At Irene’s peak, 672,000 customers were without power (the maximum number of customers out at any one time during the storm)
- Tuesday morning, 854 crews were working – including 488 line crews (poles and wires), 366 tree crews
- CL&P aware of 912 roads total blocked state and town roads, and 320 have been cleared
During a question-and-answer session during the briefing, Butler said that eastern Connecticut had been hit far worse than the western part of the state. Some homes lose power even during the restoration, Butler said, because for safety reasons crews often have to switch off the power to deal with power lines that are leaning against fallen trees, in order to clear the vegetation.