Power outages top 200,000, four days after Isaias
More than 200,000 people remained without power Saturday in Connecticut as the slow recovery from Tropical Storm Isaias continued.
As of 9:30 p.m., Eversource reported about 195,608 households were without power.
That included, about 1,521 customers in Cheshire; 2,487 in Guilford; 2,027 in Madison; 4,143 in Norwalk; 1,794 in Seymour; 3,166 in Stamford; and 6,216 in Westport.
Eversource said in a statement Saturday night that it has more than 1,600 crews working on the ground in Connecticut. Eversource said crews have restored power to about 717,000 customers since the storm hit as of 10 a.m. Saturday.
The utility company said it expects to have the “vast majority” of the remaining customers without power back on line by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, with many expected to get their lights back on sooner.
Eversource is running six satellite command centers in some of the state’s hardest-hit areas: Berlin, Cheshire, Madison, Norwalk, Tolland and Torrington. The utility company said these centers ensure efficient crew deployment through a more localized approach.
“These satellite command centers put our crews and materials closer to the areas where they’re needed most, providing us greater flexibility to more quickly deploy the massive crew resources that we’ve brought into Connecticut,” said a statement Saturday from Eversource President of Regional Electric Operations Craig Hallstrom.
United Illuminating reported around 9:30 p.m. that about 12,402 households were still without power.
That included 907 customers in New Haven; 948 in Bridgeport; 598 in Milford; 1,058 in Woodbridge; 394 in East Haven; 273 in West Haven; 1,294 in Easton; and 1,578 in Shelton.
On Friday, the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down briefly in Westport during the storm.
The NWS said the storm on Tuesday produced a waterspout, which made landfall as an EF1 tornado around 1:40 p.m.
As restoration continued, Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker called on Eversource to provide a single “make safe” crew to help clear town roads, saying the community was “approaching a crisis” due to its inaction.
As of around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, 3,590 Eversource customers remained without power in Bethel.
“(W)e have had over a dozen key roads remain closed since the storm due to trees and wires hanging or on the road (our DPW crews very quickly cleared every road blockage where no wires were involved by Wednesday morning),” Knickerbocker wrote in an email to the utility company Friday. “We have multiple critical facilities still running on generators, and now we are having trouble getting the fuel trucks in to keep them running.”
Knickerbocker also wrote to the office of Gov. Ned Lamont Thursday night, arguing that Eversource had inappropriately focused on restoring power to a limited number of customers.
“While I can only speculate, it would seem quite transparent that prioritizing ‘easy’ restoration over ‘make safe’ operations makes the outage numbers appear to be improving faster. But this was undertaken at the expense of public safety,” said Knickerbocker.
Harwinton First Selectman Michael Criss said on Facebook that some residents, “based on the lackluster performance of Eversource and false information,” should “please be prepared to be out until Thursday this week” and to be “patient as we fight for you with them.”
“The crews working for Eversource are not the issue, so please respect them and stay clear if you see them working as they are working long days and hard in the field, it is the bureaucracy within Eversource creating the long delays and problems with the restoration efforts,” said Criss.
On Thursday night, the state’s two largest utility companies said residents could see their power restored as early as this weekend, and no later than Tuesday.
Eversource said it expects to make “significant progress” by the end of the weekend, with most of its restoration efforts “substantially complete” by midnight Tuesday. Fewer than 1 percent of customers may be without power for longer, they said.
In an email obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media on Thursday, United Illuminated representatives told state officials that they expect most customers to have power back by midnight Saturday. At latest, they wrote in the email, all customers should have power back by midnight Monday.
“We understand it may not be welcome news that some customers may still be without service this weekend,” said a statement from Tony Marone, UI president and CEO. “We ask customers to plan accordingly.”