6,167 residents still without power; New Canaan rail service begins
Updated 2:41 pm, Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The restoration process following Tropical Storm Irene is progressing as smoothly as possible according to New Canaan's Office of Emergency Management. Metro-North began regular weekday rail services out of New Canaan at 3:57 p.m. Tuesday and more roads are being opened up as crews are working around the clock.
"In my opinion, things are moving the way they should," Selectman Rob Mallozzi said. "We have more crews in town (Tuesday) and a confirmation that a crew will be in town (Tuesday night). We want to make sure all the roads are safe to drive on. That still remains the thrust of our effort. Based on our experience from the March 2010 storm, the path we are on would tell me that we could have a breakthrough in the next 24 to 48 hours."
The breakthrough most residents are concerned with is the restoration of power. As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, 6,126 New Canaan residents are without power. First Selectman Jeb Walker said Connecticut Light and Power has crews working with the Highway Department and Public Works to finish the job as quickly as possible.
"Our first priority remains with the roadways. I think we're doing alright. We've got Connecticut Light and Power working with our guys and we have cleared just about everything with no wires involved," Walker said. "We want to open up the roads for everyone as quickly as possible so that people do not start moving the barricades themselves and there have been several reports of that happening."
As of Wednesday morning, the OEM said all roads in town are passable for emergency vehicles while crews are still working to make it completely safe for everyone to drive through. The OEM also said the health department has inspected all the food establishments in town, which are completely operational.
The OEM said there are two teams working on restoring power to high priority targets in towns.
More InformationIrene by the numbers Maximum road closures: 150 of 265 Maximum winds gusts: 47 mph Maximum sustained winds: 28 mph Inches of rainfall: 5.27 inches Number of EOC volunteers: 70 Number of CL&P customers without power: 6,169 (as of 8 p.m. Tuesday) Number of people who used Lapham Community Center as a shelter: 11 Weather statistics by Weather Underground
"The high priority places include the waste water treatment facility, schools and several other areas in town," Walker said.
"We are also working to get power to several traffic lights in town to prevent accidents. As far as residents go, a priority is those places where we know we have individuals at risk with severe illnesses and those with heart machines and respirators. We know who those people are and are managing that situation. The lucky thing is that there have been no reported injuries or major medical issues."
Mike Handler, director of the OEM, commented on outages on the OEM's Facebook page.
"Many of you have noticed that the percent of town without power decreased from 80 percent down to 76 percent during the `make roads passable' phase of our operation. While crews are working at a specific site to clear wires there may be a repair that can be readily made, in such cases power can and has been restored. Conversely, when we enter the power restoration phase of our operations, you may notice that the percent of homes without power actually increases initially. This is due to a circuit being brought down, so crews can safely repair downed lines," Handler said. "After the repair is made, we should see the number of homes without power decrease in larger increments. Meaning more residents will have power restored."
Due to the massive amount of power outages across the state, Walker said CL&P has also employed the help of several subcontracted crews from other areas in the country as far as Joplin, Miss.
"It really is amazing that we have crews from so far away helping us out here," Walker said. "I mean Missouri has had their own share of problems yet they have been able to come up here to assist in our restoration process. It is just great. There is also a crew from Iowa and one on their way from Colorado. Connecticut Light and Power has really gotten organized and made rapid progress."
As reported earlier, OEM officials said the majority of the restoration process will begin tomorrow after most of the roadways are clear.
"We want to remind everyone that part of the restoration process can involve taking homes that currently have power down temporarily," officials said.
For those without power, several places around town, including the library, are helping to provide Internet access and charging stations for residents.
The YMCA has also been open for those who needed a hot shower.