Storm leaves widespread power outages in its wake

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Region - posted Wed., Aug. 31, 2011
A sign at Geer's Family Tree on Route 138 in Griswold gives customers a heads-up about the upcoming storm.
A sign at Geer's Family Tree on Route 138 in Griswold gives customers a heads-up about the upcoming storm.

Griswold, Voluntown, Preston and surrounding towns were uniformly dark Sunday and Monday nights in the wake of Hurricane Irene, and facing the prospect of days, if not weeks, without power.

The power outage left local residents scrambling for water, gas and food, left storekeepers frustrated by the loss of business and perishable food, and left town officials angered by what they perceived as the slow response of Connecticut Light and Power and the state Department of Transportation.

Voluntown First Selectman Ronald Millovitsch said that members of the Voluntown Fire Department, along with town public works personnel, managed to clear not only town roads but also state highways in the town by Sunday night. A volunteer crew of more than 20 people used town snowplows , backhoes and loaders to clear away the leaf and branch debris that littered every road in town.

“The Fire Department busted their butts. They did an outstanding job, as usual,” he said. “We got no help from the DOT.”

“Right now I don’t know when the power is going to come back,” Millovitsch said. Town Hall was open and running on generators, but had no phone service or internet Monday.

At Griswold Town Hall, First Selectman Philip Anthony said that CL&P had sent an official to keep office hours in town hall until power was restored in town. That move came after an initial estimate from the power company that it would take up to two weeks to gets lights back on. Anthony said at press time Tuesday that he could not estimate a time frame for the return to power.

Griswold fire departments and town crews also took the initiative and cleared the roads before DOT or CL&P showed up, Anthony said. Jewett City residents, who are served by the borough’s own power company, lost power Sunday afternoon but were up and running by Monday night.

Griswold and Jewett City Fire Departments opened their doors to shelter local residents displaced by the storm, as did Voluntown Baptist Church. There were no takers in Voluntown Monday, but about 24 people stayed in Griswold shelters, Anthony said.

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