Governor surveys damage from season’s first snowstorm
WINSTED — Gov. Dannel Malloy took a helicopter tour of the state Monday morning to survey damage and power outages caused by Winter Storm Alfred, starting in Windsor Locks and crossing through the Farmington Valley into Litchfield County and through New Britain, Glastonbury and southern Hartford County.Touring in an Air National Guard helicopter, as he did following flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in August, Malloy noted that the two tours had very different characteristics.“Flooding is easier to discern,” the governor said in a dispatch authored by Keith Phaneuf of the Connecticut Mirror. “The amount of snow covering roofs is quite extraordinary. You can see signs there’s not a lot of power out there.”The 58-minute flight gave the governor a broad view of the snowfall, as well as some closer views of damage in specific areas. “There’s a lot of damage out there — a lot of trees out there,” the governor added.At Bradley International Airport, 20.3 inches of snow were reported at the end of the storm. The previous snowfall record for the entire month of October was 1.7 inches.Connecticut Light & Power reported that 880,000 customers lost power as a result of the storm. By Monday evening, service had been restored to approximately 150,000 customers, but estimates for how long it would take to restore power to the most remote areas ranged from one to two weeks.Also Monday, President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for Connecticut, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local response to the storm. The president’s declaration authorized the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief efforts.On Tuesday afternoon, electrical crews from as far away as North Carolina were seen in Barkhamsted working to remove trees and branches that were leaning across power lines on Route 44 and virtually every other road in the area. Roads throughout the Northwest Corner were lined with stretched and broken cables, still waiting for large branches to be removed.Malloy’s helicopter tour took him through the Winsted area. It was reported that, from 1,500 feet in the air, the colors of the treetops could be seen, but as the helicopter descended to 500 feet, the governor could see damage, including broken branches, fallen trees and downed power lines throughout the area. On Tuesday afternoon, several Winsted residents from the Hinsdale School area to the east end of Holabird Avenue reported having their electricity restored for approximately 20 minutes in the early afternoon before power failed again. Numerous stores in the area were operating on generator power this week while waiting for full power to be restored.Also Tuesday, CL&P issued estimated restoration projections for 50 towns in Connecticut, but no towns in the Winsted area were included on the list by Tuesday evening. Updated results were expected throughout the week, as at least half of the state remained without power Tuesday night. On Wednesday, CL&P issued restoration estimates for all towns in Connecticut, with all Winsted-area towns expected to be up and running by 11:59 p.m. Sunday night.In a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Malloy said he was disappointed with the response from out-of-state companies assisting with power restoration efforts in Connecticut, with fewer crews arriving than was originally expected. About 6,000 workers were expected to come to the New England region to assist in the restoration efforts this week. Later in the day, Malloy held a press conference with CL&P President and CEO Jeffrey Butler, who said there were 493 power-line crews working in the state as of Tuesday and that he expected more than 1,000 crews to be operating in Connecticut by the end of the week. “Our number one priority is getting power restored to people in the state of Connecticut,” Malloy said.