Hurricane Irene packs a punch: recovery continues
WINSTED — Hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents spent at least some of this week without power as crews from Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) worked to restore power in areas affected by Hurricane Irene and state officials toured flooded towns.
The first major hurricane to hit the United States in three years knocked out power to an estimated 4.5 million people along the East Coast and caused at least 40 deaths, including two in Connecticut, but did not cause as much damage in the Winsted area as forecasters feared. Towns across the state saw downed trees, along with swollen rivers, scattered limbs and debris.
Damage in coastal areas was significant, particularly in East Haven, where several shoreline homes were demolished. Damage was reported along the coast from New London to Bridgeport.
One of the only inland towns to see major flooding was Bristol’s Forestville section, where East Main Street was completely underwater and residents gathered to survey the damage. One Bristol resident died after capsizing in a canoe.
A Prospect woman also died as a result of a fire that was blamed on the storm.
Gov. Dannel Malloy toured damaged areas in a helicopter and then visited towns by car, stopping in Bridgeport, Fairfield and Stamford on Tuesday, followed by Pomfret, Sprague and Ledyard on Wednesday.
Within the first 24 hours following Hurricane Irene’s impact on Connecticut, CL&P announced that it had restored power to more than 288,000 customers, but that more than 515,000 customers still remained without power at 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 29.
On Tuesday, Aug. 30, CL&P followed up with an announcement that power had been restored to more than half a million customers, but that at least 350,000 customers were without power as of 8 p.m. At least 900 line and tree crews were working across the state as of Tuesday night, and by Friday, CL&P expected to have nearly 1,200 crews working to restore power to CL&P customers, making this the largest single contingent of crews in Connecticut history.
As the week wore on, weather forecasters had their eyes on Tropical Storm Katia, which was making its way west-northwest across the mid-Atlantic but was expected to turn north and away from the U.S. mainland.
State help offered to affected businesses
On Tuesday, Malloy and Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Commissioner Catherine Smith announced a comprehensive business assistance program to help companies negatively impacted by Hurricane Irene.
“This storm had a tremendous impact on residents and businesses alike. As we move forward in our recovery efforts, I want to ensure that businesses that were affected get the financial and technical help they need in a timely fashion,” said Malloy. “Providing this type of assistance will ensure Connecticut companies get back to business, which in turn will help the state’s economy stay on track in the wake of this devastating storm.”
Businesses sustaining damage will be eligible for assistance, including bridge financing and loans covering uninsured losses, through DECD. Highlights include loans of up to $200,000 to companies for storm-related damage, with loan guarantees provided to banks and other lenders to spur local lending; grants for assistance in disaster recovery; and technical assistance, linking businesses to state and federal resources.
Agricultural businesses are among those eligible for funding.
A team of DECD workers has been assembled to work with companies at business resource centers around the state. They will assist in indentifying financial and technical resources, as well as serve as business advocates with utility assistance, insurance companies, and federal agencies. A list of the centers is on the DECD website.
Information for all services can be accessed through www.DECD.org or by calling 860-270-8215.