Town recovers from extended power outage
WINSTED — The town spent last week recovering from an unusual late October snowstorm that caused power outages that lasted for days in many areas.According to the Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) outage map, the town totally lost power on Saturday night, Oct. 29.Power did not start coming back to parts of town until Wednesday, Nov. 2, at around 2 p.m.The first parts of town that gained electricity included sections of Main Street, where the majority of gas stations are located.Other parts of town slowly came online throughout the next few days.Police Chief Robert Scannell said things were relatively quiet at the department despite the power outage.“Despite traffic lights being off, the amount of traffic accidents has been down,” Scannell said. “We did have a few burglaries at a couple of convenience stores. You have to expect that because surveillance equipment does not work during a power outage.” Scannell added that there were no fires in town during the outage.“Other than that, it has been a learning experience,” he said. “Obviously CL&P got overwhelmed very quickly. Their response was slow up here.”During the power outage, the town served hot meals at the Blanche McCarthy Senior Center.Up until Thursday, the Senior Center also served as a shelter for residents who did not have heat at their homes.On Friday, the town distributed ready-to-eat meals and bottles of water donated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).According to Town Manager Dale Martin, FEMA distributed 48 cases of the meals and 48 cases of bottled water.“Every day during the power outage Mayor Candy Perez, members of the town staff and myself met with CL&P representatives,” Martin said. “As for the frustrations of residents, I did hear from one resident who was angry who lives on East Wakefield Boulevard. At the same time, our public safety workers are applauding CL&P on their efforts for public safety while the power lines are being restored.”Michele Smedick of Mountain Avenue, who was without power for five days, was one of the residents who received the FEMA rations on Friday.She was critical of how long it took for the town to pass the rations out.“Why did five days go by without the FEMA help?” Smedick said. “The entire town was without power, and the town’s government didn’t think that the residents might need emergency food and drinking water?”Martin said he did not receive any urgent requests for food from residents during the power outage.“There was never any actual request,” Martin said. “The town has been providing three meals a day at the senior center. We fed everyone that showed up.”Another resident who received FEMA rations was Mike Hubbard, of Prospect Street, who was critical of CL&P’s response to the outage.“Their response was slow to none,” Hubbard said. “However, if you don’t pay your bill on time, they’re quick to shut you off.”Even a local business showed some dissatisfaction with CL&P’s response.Tattoos by Candace, located at 238 Main St., put signs in its storefront window that criticized the utility’s handling of the power outage.During the week of the power outage, the Torrington Area Health District shut down several restaurants, a few of them which were open during the outage.Tom Stansfield, deputy director of health for the department, said that the restaurants were ordered closed as a safety precaution.“We just want to make sure that the restaurants maintain the proper temperature of their food products,” Stansfield said. “We want them to outline what they are doing to maintain proper food temperatures, either if they packed their food in ice or if they have discarded their food to restock them. In some instances, we had to remind the restaurants serving food of the basis of the public health code.”Stansfield said that the restaurants in question were not fined or cited.As for schools, after being closed for a full week, the Winchester School District re-opened on Monday, Nov. 7.Instead of taking off for Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8, and Veterans Day on Friday, Nov. 11, the district has decided to stay open.