Connecticut roads reopen, but more than 600,000 without power
The highways were reopened to traffic today, but the state was hampered by widespread power outages, including the blackout of its largest city, Bridgeport. At midday, the state’s two large utilities were reporting more than 600,000 customers without power.
How you fared in Monday’s storm depended almost completely on where you live or do business. Towns at either end of the Connecticut coast — Greenwich to the west and Stonington to the east — are dark, their officials telling residents there is virtually no hope of power restoration today. The same is true in parts of every coastal town in between.
United Illuminating hoped to restore power by nightfall to Bridgeport, where power was lost as the storm surge backed the waters of Long Island Sound up the Pequonnock River, flooding the Pequonnock and Congress Street substations.
Normalcy could come slowly to swaths of Fairfield County, especially for commuters whose livelihoods are tied to the recovery of New York, where Hurricane Sandy dealt a body blow to the city’s infrastructure, including subways, tunnels and electric grid.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that power is out on Metro-North’s New Haven line tracks and “hundreds” of trees are downed all across its various railroad tracks. Metro-North is giving no estimate of when service might be restored.
Connnecticut Light & Power reported having 1,080 extra workers on duty, triple the number after Tropical Storm Irene.
At his morning briefing, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the state’s precautions, such as road closures and evacuations, minimized loss of life. He said two people in Connecticut were killed by falling trees during the storm, including a firefighter in Easton and a resident of Mansfield.
“Our first responders put their lives on the line, and when one of them loses their life, we all feel the pain in Connecticut,” Malloy said.
In addition to the two deaths, two people were reported missing. But no deaths were reported due to the refusal of shoreline residents to heed evacuation orders in anticipation of record tides.
Malloy indicated Monday night during a hastily called briefing that he was unhappy with the failure of some shoreline towns to forcefully urge evacuations, but he downplayed the failure Tuesday morning.
“We’ll take a look at that,” he said.
Malloy said he reacted strongly, urging people to remain in place until daylight, because of a story he recalled from Irene, about a resident of Cosey Beach in East Haven who tried to swim to safety from the second-story window of his flooded house with his dog.
“He got into the water, and the dog had more sense. He could not pull the dog in the water, so he climbed back in the window of the house,” Malloy said. “He was in my mind.”
All public schools and motor-vehicle offices remained closed for a second day, and nonessential state employees were again told to remain home. In Hartford, Connecticut Transit buses were expected to resume service by noon.
At least four sewage treatment plants were relying on backup generators, and untreated sewage was discharged at times in Ledyard and Bridgeport, Malloy said.
A spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said this morning that at least 26 sewage facilities were on emergency power, four known to be providing only primary treatment and disinfection.
With the prolonged blackouts after Irene and an Oct. 28 nor’easter last year, CL&P and United Illuminating were aware their restoration efforts would be closely examined. UI supplies power to 17 municipalities between Fairfield and New Haven. CL&P covers most of the rest of the state.
“Our system did take on heavy damage last evening,” William Quinlan, CL&P’s vice president for emergency preparedness, said this morning.
Eleven high-voltage transmission lines were knocked out. The utility conducted an aerial inspection by helicopter of the damage. About 40 percent of CL&P’s 1.2 million customers were without power near midday.
UI reported 158,000 of their 320,120 were without power.
All main campuses of the state’s hospitals were up and running Tuesday, and some clinics and off-campus facilities resumed normal operations around noon, said Michele Sharp, director of communications and public affairs at the Connecticut Hospital Association.
Sharp said two hospitals were still running on generator power as of Tuesday morning, and a couple of hospitals had patients staying not because of acute emergencies but because of medical equipment issues. The hospitals and their association kept in touch with the state Department of Public Health and other agencies to coordinate efforts.
“For the most part, everybody’s in really good shape,” she said.
Both hospitals using generators returned to regular power around noon Tuesday.
During the storm, three nursing homes and the Connecticut Hospice in Branford, were evacuated, and six community health centers were closed.
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