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Confusion Abounds Over Outages In Storm-Struck Connecticut

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Crews work on fixing power lines in Danbury, Connecticut (credit: CBS 2)

Crews work on fixing power lines in Danbury, Connecticut (credit: CBS 2)

DANBURY, CT (CBSNewYork) — Frustrated and losing patience.

That’s how hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents feel Wednesday night.  Crews are working to restore power, but still more than half a million people remain in the dark.

CL&P Customers: To Check Your Town’s Estimated Restoration Time, Click HERE.

Generators are helping some homeowners cope while others are making due as best they can.

“Frustration is mounting, I certainly understand it. Mine has been too. But we’re working through all of the issues that lay before us,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said at a news conference earlier Wednesday.

The governor said there have been at least three carbon monoxide deaths.

For the fourth day in a row, many places are still awaiting good news as electric companies continue to assess the situation.

“I don’t understand the word ‘assessment,'” Danbury resident Theresa Radachowski told CBS 2’s Lou Young. ‘We’re making assessments’ — what does that mean? Am I getting power when they’re making assessments?  Doesn’t it require somebody actually physically doing something?”

In one section of Danbury, a line of trucks waited at a tree resting on a main electric feeder.  The out-of-town crew wanted to work on it, but there was no one around from the utility that hired them to give the go ahead.

“This is ridiculous that we have all these resources and we can’t work,” said Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola. “If I was running my resources this way, I think I’d probably be fired by now. I’m just going to tell you that straight up.”

Powerless residents are also dumbfounded.

“There’s no communication, there’s…no apology, no ‘we’re trying to make an effort,’ anything. I just don’t understand,” Susan Breed said.

1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reports from Danbury

1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reported about 80 people seeking heat have been spending their nights at a Red Cross shelter at the Danbury War Memorial until their power comes back.

“It’s been horrible,” Louise Winterholder said. “There’s so many trees down and the nights are forever.”

A spokesman for Connecticut Light & Power blamed the issues on the size of the storm.

“There may be some confision going on there, I don’t know about specific incidents. In a restoration of this magnitude, when you’ve got a thousand crews out there, that’s going to happen,” Al Lara, of CL&P, said.

CL&P is also feeling the heat over reported late payments to contractors who came in after Tropical Storm Irene amid criticism and questions about a slow out-of-state response.

Jeffrey Butler, president of Connecticut Light & Power Co., discounted the reports and said invoices of three companies were at issue. He said two of the companies were paid Monday and the third was paid Wednesday morning.

CL&P has posted a full list of its restoration estimates, but those in the cold since the freak October snowstorm on Saturday are not expected to get power until later this week or weekend.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane On The Story In Ridgefield

Redding and Wilton were slated to be online by late Friday night. Ridgefield, Newtown, and Monroe should be up and running by late Saturday night.

Cy Richardson was gassing up a new generator for his daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids, having secured one for $1,200 back home near Cincinnati.

“When you got kids, you’ll do what they need,” he said.

Gov. Malloy said during a Wednesday morning WCBS 880 interview that he too is frustrated by the pace of power restoration.

LISTEN: Gov. Dan Malloy With WCBS 880’s Pat Carroll and Michael Wallace

“This is the second time in the space of literally weeks that we’ve had to deal with this kind of problem,” said Malloy. “In this particular storm, CL&P, which is our largest utility had 77 percent of their customers without power at some point.”

Malloy said there has a been a partial federal emergency declaration. He wants President Barack Obama to sign a full declaration today.

CL&P added 110 line crews Wednesday to help fix the damage from the storm. The additional crews are joining about 1,040 people currently working to bring power back across the state.

1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan with Gov. Dan Malloy

“I think they’re reaching numbers today that they tell me will allow them to met their target which was to have 99 percent recovery by Sunday,” Malloy told 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan. “You can’t be satisfied while anybody is out of power.”

Malloy added to all of his remarks that he believes in global warming.

“At no time in the history of Connecticut, have we had this kind of storm in the month of October – at no time in the recorded history of the state of Connecticut,” said Malloy, who added that tree trimming is a necessity.

“We’ve got to take a serious look at how we’re maintaining our streets and particularly streets in proximity to wires,” he said.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau On The Cost Of The Storm

In the short run, the state of Connecticut could see an uptick in state income taxes from all the people getting paid to do storm cleanup.

But Fred Carstensen, an economics professor at the University of Connecticut, says the long-term hit to Connecticut’s economy could be significant.

He notes that the cost of the cleanup for CL&P will likely lead to a rate hike. He notes it cost the utility $100 million to restore power after Irene.

“The aggregate cost for both the utility and then for homeowners could easily be half a billion dollars. That’s effectively being taken out of future demand,” said Carstsensen.

Carstensen says homeowners will wind up spending money planned for holiday shopping or eating out on cleanup costs not covered by insurance.

In all, he says, about a half percent of the state’s total output will have disappeared.

A sign at a senior center - New Fairfield, CT - Nov 2, 2011 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

A sign at a senior center - New Fairfield, CT - Nov 2, 2011 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane In New Fairfield

How do you feel about CL&P’s response to recent storms? Sound off in the comments section below!

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