New London's emergency management director said he was troubled with the slow progress being made in parts of the city as nearly a quarter of Connecticut Light and Power's residents in the city remained without electricity on Wednesday.
“It would appear to me that there’s more an issue of distribution of labor," said Reid Burdick. "I think this is a management issue. I don’t think it has anything to do with the guys in the buckets.”
As of 4 p.m., 3,124 New London CL&P customers, or 23 percent of the total, were in the dark following the extensive damage caused to the state's electrical infrastructure by Hurricane Irene on Sunday. Close to half of the customers in the city were without electricity at the height of the storm damage. Twenty-three percent of the company's customers statewide remained without power, a total of 285,620.
Burdick said there are sporadic problems throughout the city, but that the Crystal Ave. neighborhood is the most serious issue, as it remains without power for streetlights and residences. He said the area is densely populated with significant traffic, and that the is currently unable to operate. Garbage and recycling pickup for Monday was suspended, although this was done to concentrate employees with the on cleanup efforts across the city.
At the high-rise apartments on Crystal Ave., Burdick said residents still have hot water and the ability to cook in common areas, but do not have electricity. He said he was also told that 149 CL&P crews were operating in the New London district, but that none were working in the city itself today.
"It does not appear as if the quality and response to the effects of this storm is the quality we’re accustomed to," he said.
Due to the prolonged outages, Burdick said he had ordered a shipment of meals ready to eat and water. He was coordinating with the and expects to receive the supplies this afternoon.
CL&P providing updated information on restoration projections
As some residents head into their fourth full day without power officials with CL&P continued to assure those who are still in the dark that they will likely get their power back in the next few days.
But for some, the lights may not come on again for more than a week.
As of 6 a.m. today CL&P had restored power to 568,000 of its customers, leaving 304,000 residences and businesses without power, Jeff Butler, CL&P’s president, said in a briefing this morning with the media.
The company, he said, is trying to provide its customers with as much updated information as possible on its website, particularly in the Cheshire, Tolland, Torrington and Hartford areas, where CL&P has regional work centers. Those centers, he said, serve a combined total of 47 towns and CL&P’s website now has updated restoration projections for those areas, Butler said.
“We recognize that for many of our customers, they want to know when they’re lights are going to be back on,” Butler said. “That is a primary focus for us right now.”
As of this morning, the company had 942 work crews throughout the state and by Friday will have 1,200 “so we can expedite our restoration as quickly as possible,” Butler said.
He reiterated that the company’s focus remains on getting power back to town centers so they can again begin providing local populations with the critical services they need; gas, groceries and medicines.
“Within 36 hours our goal is to get our town centers in the hardest hit areas re-energized,” Butler said.
He also again predicted that by Saturday, all but about 100,000 of CL&P’s customers will have their electricity back and everyone in the state will have power restored by next Wednesday. With more work crews coming into the state daily, that projected restoration time could get pushed up and complete restoration might happen sooner, Butler added.
Another priority for the power company, he added, is working with telecommunication companies and towns on restoring power to cell towers and focusing on other important infrastructure, such as getting roads cleared and restoring power to schools and wastewater treatment facilities.
In some towns, roads remain blocked by downed trees and tree limbs because, for safety reasons, local road crews can’t remove debris that hangs over wires.
In addition, Butler said some areas where power has been restored might see outages again as trees weakened by the storm come down. Work crews also may have to cut power to restored areas as they work on repairing damaged lines. Those latter outages, Butler said, should be short lived.
“There are trees that are still going down and as we restore areas there may be a need to de-energize lines … some customers may see brief outages.”
The company also is focusing its efforts on some of the hard-hit areas along Connecticut’s shoreline, from Fairfield County and extending east and north along the coast up through Connecticut’s border with Rhode Island, Butler said.