Power loss is biggest concern after storm wreaks havoc

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Mon., Aug. 29, 2011
A tree was tangled in power lines in front of this home near Gideon Welles School. Photos by Steve Smith.
A tree was tangled in power lines in front of this home near Gideon Welles School. Photos by Steve Smith.

More than 90 percent of Glastonbury homes and businesses were left without power, after tropical storm Irene hurled through the state on Aug. 28.

After the storm passed, residents were seen cutting trees and clearing debris, and many were walking their neighborhoods to check on neighbors, assess damage in the area, and breathe a sigh of relief that the storm was not as bad as some had predicted.

Still, there was plenty of clean-up left to do.

“We got hit pretty hard,” said Town Manager Richard Johnson on Monday.

“It’s been absolutely wild,” said Civil Preparedness Director Bob Dibella, while answering numerous calls at his department’s communication hub. “We got hit everywhere.”

Town crews began removing fallen trees and branches from roadways Sunday afternoon, and were able to complete that part of the task by Monday morning, but were unable to work on those that had brought down electrical lines.

“We can’t go near downed wires, because we simply don’t know if they are live or not,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he met with representatives from Connecticut Light & Power, in order to start a priority list of places where lines were down, as well as to find the best way to get power restored to the entire town, and to determine whether feeder lines or transformers are the root cause of the outage to the town.

“We want to confirm what the primary issues are,” Johnson said, “and then we will look at how we prioritize.”

Town crews were providing assistance to CL&P crews Monday.

A priority was the central business district, and the north end of town, where the population is more concentrated.

“The biggest problem is the North End,” Dibella said. “Food, the pharmacy, gas – it’s a human needs type of situation. We’ve got to get those businesses restored.”

With about half of the residences in town normally relying on wells for their water supply, Johnson said potable water stations are available at all of the town’s fire stations.

Glastonbury High School is being prepared as a shelter, including showers, water, and a cell phone charging station.

“We have hoses available, so if someone comes by with water containers of buckets, we have that available,” Johnson said.

The Bulky Waste facility on Tryon Street will also be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., so residents can get rid of downed trees and debris, without a permit or fee, at least until Saturday.

The opening of schools are delayed at least one day, perhaps longer if power issues persist. Check www.glastonburyus.org for further updates.

Johnson said town offices and departments were mostly open. Dibella said crews were also working to get the Riverfront Community Center and the Welles-Turner Library open as soon as possible.

“The biggest thing right now is the utilities,” Johnson said. “We don’t have a projection right now, as to how long it’s going to be.”
Other updates will be on the town’s website, www.glasct.org.

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