Government and utility officials said it could be days before power is restored for the thousands of residents left without electricity in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias.
Eversource brought in repair and tree work crews from Canada, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts to help with restoration efforts. Company spokesman Mitch Gross said workers were focusing on assessment Wednesday and didn’t yet know the extent of the damage. On Wednesday afternoon, about 200 roads were still blocked by downed trees.
“We’re asking our customers to prepare for multiple days without power,” he said.
The utility company serves 149 of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns.
“Every one of those communities has been affected to some degree,” Gross said.
More than 95 percent of Cheshire customers were out of power on Wednesday. In Southington, trees downed by winds and rain knocked out power to almost half of residents. Nearly a third of Meriden residents were without power.
Wallingford is served by its own electric company.
Statewide, about 700,000 customers were without power.
Gov. Ned Lamont declared a state of emergency Wednesday following the storm.
Cheshire postpones graduation
Cheshire High School graduation, scheduled for Thursday in Farmington, has been postponed until Sunday and moved to the high school on Highland Avenue, according to a school officials.
Meanwhile, the town opened a charging station at Highland School to allow residents without power to recharge devices and access the internet.
Highland School, 490 Highland Avenue, opened from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. If there are still outages, the school will also be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Temperature checks and face coverings are required at the charging station.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Cheshire Town Manager Sean Kimball said residents should continue to report power losses to Eversource and to treat downed wires as live. He said power restoration could take a few days.
While Town Hall remained open, other government facilities such as the Community Pool and library were closed. Kimball said the town would designate areas for storm debris drop-off once roads and town facilities were cleared.
Meriden mayor worried for residents
Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati said Wednesday he’s taken several rides around the city to see the damage. He was among those without power as of Wednesday and said it can be a tough situation for those with food going bad or medicine that needs to be refrigerated.
“I am with the residents of Meriden who are hot and aggravated,” he said. “My biggest concern is heat and spoilage of food.”
Eversource representatives couldn’t give him any guarantees about power restoration, Scarpati said, and told him that those without power would have to make alternative arrangments.
The city’s transfer station is going to be open until Saturday from 8 a.m.. to 2 p.m. for brush and leaves only to help residents get rid of storm debris.
Business suffer with no power
Workers at Ted’s Restaurant on Broad Street moved the company food truck to the front sidewalk and fired up the generator Wednesday to power Ted’s kitchen.
Business was steady with owner Bill Foreman and two mask-wearing employees serving up the famous steamed cheeseburgers to locals who were out of power, and those working on tree-clearing or power line crews.
Power went out Tuesday at around 4 p.m. in the area when heavy winds, gusting as high as 70 mph, took down trees and utility poles in the Atkins and North Broad street area.
It was an added layer of misery for business owners and locals on top of the restrictions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It makes it difficult,” Foreman said between customers. “It’s not ideal but it works. We’re trying our best to survive.”
Businessees along Broad Street opened under even more llmitations than before. There was no gas at the Irving gas station, although the generator was on. No lotto. No KK Chicken, and cash only for candy and cigarettes already in the store.
Plastic bags covered the gas pumps at Irving and Cumberland Farms.
“The pumps run on electricity,” said Irving employee Hassan Kassem.
Motorists waited in long lines next to the humming generator at the Dairy Queen, only to be told the internet system that runs the ordering was down.
“We’re sorry, we can’t process the order,” an employee said. “It’s going to be a little longer.”
City cleanup crews and private contractors were out in full force Wednesday to clear debris caused by Tuesday’s tropical storm. Hardest hit areas were the North Broad Street, Cook Avenue, Liberty Street, Kensington Avenue and Hanover Avenue neighborhoods. Homeowners with fallen trees were outside clearing and cutting witih no air conditioning and refrigeration to cool off and stay hydrated.
Stephen Steadman at 127 N. Wall St. was home when he heard the wind howling around his house. After several minutes a tree came town on top of his porch.
“It was about 4:30 p.m.” Steadman said. “It had to be all of 70 miles per hour. It’s an old tree half-rotten. It just missed the house. We didn’t lose power because of this. There’s power out everywhere.”
North Wall Street was blocked off from Bradley to Atkins Street because of several large trees and lines down in the area. Children could be spotted outside on stoops, while others charged phones and sat in air conditioning in adults’ cars.
Sylvester Turner was working on a home on Liberty Street when the crew heard a boom and bang and ran to the rear of the house to find several trees had toppled onto a truck parked in the rear. The crew kept working and Turner returned to his Cook Avenue apartment to no power.
“There is a propane tank,” Turner said. “If you have a gas grill, you can cook.”
School cafeteria workers were at their posts at Casimir Pulaski School ready with lunches for children with and without power. They doled out ice packs to help keep the food cool. The schools had generators to maintain the food operation.
Cafeteria worker Carrie Woronick lost power in her Gracey Avenue neighborhood and said many families coming to the schools were in the same circumstance and uncertain when it will be restored.
“There are a lot of people without power,” Woronick said. “We kept the windows open, and entertained each other with board games.”