Gov. Dannel P. Malloy visited the Emergency Operations Center at the on Thursday morning, meeting with town officials.
He then took a tour of West Hartford's debris-littered streets, for a firsthand look at how this community is coping with the storm's aftermath.
The governor had been briefed on the operations of the shelter at Conard High School by who visited the site yesterday, and was informed by Interim Fire Chief Gary Allyn, head of the Emergency Operations Committee, about the amazing job and show of teamwork by Conard students who set up the entire shelter in two hours.
"People really rise to the occasion; it's remarkable," Malloy said.
As the motorcade traveled through the northwest section of West Hartford, the devastation of downed trees and power lines was evident on every street. That area of town has the highest concentration of heavy timber, and sustained some of the most serious damage.
The governor stopped at the UConn parking lot, which FEMA certified contractor Ashbritt is using as a staging area. Ashbritt has one truck working in West Hartford on Thursday, and will be steadily ramping up operations as debris is made available for pick-up. A National Guard representative has now been assigned to work with the FEMA clean-up operation in West Hartford.
Gov. Malloy said that the damage in West Hartford was "as bad as anything he's seen in the state."
"We need immediate help, we need to continue to press CL&P, and we need to address what we should be doing long-term," Malloy said.
After leaving West Hartford, Malloy was scheduled for a conference call with United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, to discuss raising the reimbursement level Connecticut will receive under the declared State of Emergency.
Mayor Scott Slifka also expressed his outrage at CL&P response, and at the lack of coordination. "We're no longer really interested in getting into why they got into this situation. I want to stop having officers talk to executives. I want the person who can talk to my public works director and get the work done right now ... We're still going to push and prod and get them to that deadline."
There have been unconfirmed rumors that CL&P is not going to be able to meet the deadline of having 99 percent of power restored by Sunday at 11:59 p.m. "That's not our deadline, it's not the governor's deadline, it's not the deadline of any mayor in this state. It's the deadline that CL&P put out and we said in the message that we put out to the town yesterday that we can't verify it."
"The reality is that we simply need feet on the ground that can do the work," Slifka said.
State Rep. Andrew Fleischmann (D-18th district), who also toured the town with the governor's motorcade, remarked that damaged property is even worse than what can be seen from the street. The legislator said, "Trout Brook is a flood plain. All of us have sump pumps that run continuously, and all of us have flooded basements right now."
Although some may dismiss the governor's visit as public relations, State Sen. Beth Bye (D-5th district) said, "It only helps to have the attention here to get us more help."