Thousands remain without power in Connecticut

The News Leader

March 16, 2010 10:03:54 AM PDT
Utility crews are still on the job in Connecticut trying to restore electricity to thousands of homes and businesses that remain in the dark after a strong storm brought down trees and power lines. Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced she has asked the Department of Public Utility Control and the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security to examine the actions of the state's two largest electric utilities ? Connecticut Light & Power Co. (CL&P) and United Illuminating Co. (UI) ? in the initial hours of the weekend storm that contributed to the deaths of at least three people, downed thousands of trees and tree limbs, snapped hundreds of utility poles and left nearly 100,000 Connecticut homes and businesses without power.

As of this morning, more than 39,000 CL&P customers and more than 700 UI customers were still without power.

Governor Rell said she heard from many municipal leaders, fire and police chiefs and emergency management officials who complained that the utility companies were slow to respond to the storm Saturday night and Sunday. The officials told the Governor they had trouble reaching utility officials ? often getting voice mail or no answer at all ? and said that they saw relatively few utility crews on the job in the first two days of the storm.

"This was a huge storm that did serious damage ? miles of wire and dozens of utility poles were affected," Governor Rell said."Thousands of Connecticut residents remain without power even now ? three days after the storm, with nighttime lows still dipping into the 30s. And it is flatly unacceptable for a fire or police official to be unable to reach a 'real person' at a utility company in the middle of an emergency. We need to know what went wrong, why it happened and how to keep it from happening again.

Declaring a state of emergency is necessary to seek the federal help. It also allows Rell to take a range of actions to safeguard health and safety, if necessary, and activate mutual assistance agreements with other states.

At least three deaths in Connecticut have been associated with the storm.

On Sunday, March 14, at 4:13 p.m., troopers responded to 22 Oak Street in Lyme for a possible drowning.

Responders attempted CPR on the victim, identified as Richard Seckla, whom they had just removed from a small pond behind the residence.

The victim was transported by Old Lyme Ambulance to Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London, where he was pronounced dead.

The preliminary investigation revealed that the victim was attempting to move structures in the pond due to the rising water. The cause of death appears to be accidental.

The incident remains under investigation.

A 61-year-old woman, idetified as June Einhorn, was also killed when she was struck by a falling branch on Boulder Brook Road. A New Jersey woman was killed and three others injured Saturday in Westport when high winds knocked a tree down on her vehicle.

It happened just after 7 p.m. Saturday on Park Lane. When EMS arrived, they found three of the injured people had escaped the vehicle. The remaining person inside the car, a woman, had been killed. Police identified her as 39-year-old Jennifer Thibault of Long Valley, N.J.

The injured people were taken to Norwalk Hospital. Authorities did not release the names of any of the injured people.

As a result of the weather, all schools in Darien, Norwalk, Greenwich, New Canaan, Stamford and Westport were closed Monday.

The poor weather that swept over Connecticut late Saturday and early Sunday was part of a larger storm that also battered parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York with gusts up to 70 mph.