About 170,000 CL&P customers have gotten their power restored and about 50,000 United Illuminating customers have their electricity back, as residents and businesses across the state struggle to return to normal the day after Irene.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy provided those figures Monday afternoon at the State Armory, during an update on the aftermath of the storm.
“Now we begin the process of getting back to normal as quickly as we can,” Malloy said.
Despite the progress in restoring power to some, nearly 600,000 CL&P customers remain without electricity today, along with 107,000 customers of United Illuminating.
In Stonington some 7627 CL&P customers, 95 percent, remain without electricity.
Malloy reiterated what he and CL&P officials have been saying for days, that it could take up to a week or more for some customers to get their power back.
“It’s going to take a long period of time … because there’s been extensive damage to the system. It’s just not going to be swift, or as swift as we would like it to be.”
Irene set a record in Connecticut in terms of power outages. Nearly 770,000 customers lost power, compared with about 477,000 after Hurricane Gloria in 1985.
Power companies, he said, are making hospitals and nursing homes a priority first in their power restoration process.
Besides electricity, cell phone service is becoming spotty for many users across the state, Malloy said, because some 300 cellular tower sites were damaged by Irene and are beginning to lose their backup battery power supply. He urged residents to limit their cell phone usage to help reserve that power supply until the towers can be repaired.
Cable and Internet service that was knocked out will likely not be restored in most areas until after power comes back on, he added.
His office is currently working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to get a federal disaster declaration for the state, a move that would give the state, businesses and communities access to tens of millions of dollars in federal aid. The state got a pre-landfall declaration, but that money was used to prepare for the storm.
Malloy said he’s also talking with the White House and the Department of Homeland Security to secure federal assistance in getting more utility crews from other states to come here and help.
Malloy said he toured the state by airplane this morning with a FEMA representative as part of that process. He said he was impressed with the amount of damage in certain parts of the state, including the Farmington River Valley, areas around the Housatonic River farther west and the towns along the shoreline in southwestern Connecticut, particularly towns such as West Haven, East Haven and New Haven. Those latter areas saw extensive damage to beachfront homes, he said. Some homes were even swept off their foundations and out into Long Island Sound.
Along the Connecticut River Valley, Malloy said flooding from the river, which is still rising, could be seen in towns along the valley.
“Clearly we’re experiencing late season flooding and that’s going to have an impact on agriculture,” he said.
“I can tell you from the air you can pick out pumpkins when they’ve been covered by water.”
Later today he will hold a telephone conference call with town and city leaders to update them on efforts to clean up from Irene and to hear their concerns.
With the power outages in some areas expected to drag into the end of the week, Malloy cautioned that residents need to stop eating food from their refrigerators if they have been without power for more than four hours.
And with gasoline supplies running low, he urged residents to use their cars as little as possible.
“We are continuing to ask citizens to minimum usage of their cars until we get all of our oil and gas delivery systems back up and operating,” he said. “Minimize travel if you can.”