In Oxford, 73 percent of Connecticut Light & Power customers were still without power as of 6 a.m. Wednesday. That is 3,843 customers out of 5,261 that CL&P serves in Oxford. The company says most of its customers should have power as of Saturday.
CL&P by this evening should have more concise information available to residents on power restoration efforts in the state, and expects to have 99 percent of the power restored to all customers by Saturday, Jeff Butler, the company’s president, said during a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.
“We understand how difficult this is for our customers. And I recognize we have a lot of work to be done still. Our focus is to get every last customer back on power.”
A United Illuminating official said about 65,000 of his company’s customers are still without power.
Butler said there are now 900 CL&P work crews across the state and that 300 more crews will be in Connecticut by Friday. Some are coming from as far away as Seattle and Vancouver. A crew is a two-man team, which means the utility company will have a total of 2,400 employees working to restore power.
Of the 671,000 customers who were left without electricity after Irene hit here Saturday, fewer than 400,000 remain without power. Butler said CL&P is refocusing its restoration efforts through its main work centers in Cheshire and Torrington, which serve 26 towns in those areas.
“We’re starting to see towns come back online,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who led the briefing in the Emergency Operations Center at the State Armory in Hartford.
Malloy said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is pledging to send another 500 utility workers to Connecticut to help.
By Saturday, Butler said, there should be fewer than 100,000 CL&P customers left without power and that everyone’s power will be back on by next Wednesday at the latest. The focus of the restoration effort now, he said, is shifting toward getting town centers electricity so they can start serving their communities with essential services “so you will have a gas station, grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies.”
Malloy said he is still trying to get a handle on the scope of the financial damages in Connecticut and is working closely with FEMA on getting the federal government to declare Connecticut a disaster area. He has asked local officials to provide him with dollar amount damage estimates so that he can provide the information to FEMA. Once Connecticut secures a federal disaster declaration, he said, it would open the pipeline to tens of millions of dollars in financial aid to state residents.
FEMA officials, he said, “have been up in the air, they’ve been on the ground and I’m hopeful they’ll make a decision sooner rather than later.”
In his own tours of affected communities, he said he was surprised by the extent of some of the damage.
“I think this is going to end up being a bigger event than people thought it was going to be.”
Some of the federal disaster aid could be used to help residents who lost homes rebuild those structures. Along the shoreline, which was particularly hard hit, some homes that have been in families for decades were lost or significantly damaged, he said. Many of those families, he said, are from “humble” backgrounds who may not even be able to afford the insurance deductible on their losses, let alone rebuild.
“The deductibles on those properties could break some families.”