With over 10,000 Newtown customers — 93 percent of town — waiting for the lights to come back on after Hurricane Sandy swept through Connecticut Monday, Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) crews are clearing downed live wires and assessing the situation. As are town officials, who met at the Emergency Operations Center Tuesday morning to get a handle on the damage and coordinate cleanup efforts.
They were , who were touring some of the hardest hit portions of the state Tuesday.
Gov. Malloy “let us know he was aware of the challenges we’re facing and wanted to give a show of support for Newtown,” First Selectman Pat Llodra said of the visit. “Last time this happened we spiked into the 90s [percent of town powerless], so when we were hit hard again, in his discussion with the governor this morning Chris [Murphy] suggested [he visit] Newtown.”
Besides difficulties due to power loss and downed trees, Llodra said she spoke with the governor specifically about concerns with the water treatment plant, which does not have backup generators or a contingency plan in case of sustained power loss.
Llodra said Malloy was concerned that “we didn’t have an immediate plan,” however the town should have sufficient water to get through the next few days and a more sustainable plan is in the works for future emergencies.
According to Newtown Director of Public Works Fred Hurley, the town’s million-gallon storage tank is at full capacity and, at an average rate of 200,000 gallons a day, the town has sufficient water for three to four days before getting into the emergency reserves.
If the town nears that point, generators can be brought in to get the plant back online, however the treatment plant and nearby Garner Correctional Institution are both priorities for restoration.
For the time being, the focus will be on getting power to those high-priority areas and clearing impassable roads — such as Route 302 and parts of West Street.
“Today is not really a day of restoration,” the CL&P representative told Newtown officials. “It’s an assessment day.”
At least six crews were in Newtown Tuesday morning working on electrical hazards and assisting the town’s emergency services and more crews are expected to help fix the major circuits that are down, however there is no timetable yet on their arrival.
In the meantime, town crews are clearing roads that do not have downed wires.
“We’re opening up what we can when we don’t need CL&P,” Hurley said, however there are a number of roads with significant damage and it may be some time before all the town’s throughways are fully passable, he pointed out, adding that “302 has some of the worst damage in town.”
Newtown public schools will remained closed at least through Wednesday, however the high school has been opened as an emergency shelter, where residents can warm, charge their devices and have a hot shower.