CL&P has restored power to the majority of West Hartford customers, but frustrations are rising among those residents who are still in the dark Thursday night.
Significant progress was made with restoration on Thursday, said West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka. At 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, CL&P's outage chart showed 2,049 customers (7 percent) still awaiting restoration.
When the mayor recorded his nightly message to residents Thursday, the 6 p.m. outage figure was 752 homes – about 2 percent of the community. By 9:30 p.m., that number had dropped to 500.
Early Thursday morning, Bristow Middle School families received a call informing them that the school still did not have power and would remain closed. Power was restored during the day Thursday, and all schools will open on Friday.
Damage in other parts of the state has been much more serious, and Pres. Barack Obama even participated in this afternoon's conference call between Gov. Malloy and mayors from throughout the state, listening to their concerns, Slifka said.
West Hartford did not sustain as much visible physical damage as it did last October, and the town is in much better shape than some shoreline communities where outages initially exceeded 80 percent of customers and remain at 50 percent or higher. CL&P has had to concentrate resources in those areas.
"Believe me, we are pushing as hard as we can, and we are in a much better place [getting power restored] than we were a year ago," Slifka said. However, he said he understands that sounds "hollow" to those residents who not only don't have power, but also have not been able to receive an estimate on when it will be restored.
"I still remain very frustrated on behalf of the residents still without power, who are sitting in the dark knowing that colder weather is coming this weekend," said Slifka.
The remaining problems in West Hartford, he said, are individualized and were caused by an extreme amount of localized damage. Each one is a unique problem, and repair of each one will only result in a small number of residents being returned to the grid.
Repair of the damage affecting the Trout Brook Dr./Boulevard area today returned power to 800 to 1,000 customers, but none of the other repairs will have anywhere near the impact. Some of the outages are the result of damage to the junction box that connects to the house, and if that's the case, the homeowner is responsible and needs to have the repair made by an electrician.
Although Slifka said that the relationship between the town and CL&P liaison Anne Bartosewicz has been working well, he understands that it means nothing to those who are still out and have not been able to extract information estimates from CL&P. "Clearly the customer service piece needs a lot of work," Slifka said.
Slifka did have some specific information about affected areas.
"Every pole is back up," he said Thursday evening.
That will allow for restoration of power on Hunter Dr., which is next on the priority list and should re-energize about 300 customers once CL&P completes that job. Slifka said that two crews would be working there overnight, but the project is labor intensive. He was hopeful that it would be completed before mornning.
Work still remains to be completed on Van Buren which will bring power to 46 customers, as well as on Cherryfield Dr. which impacts 26 customers. Slifka said in his recorded message that "CL&P has one line crew and one tree crew working on Old Oak and Mountain Roads, which should help roughly 97 homes."
"The number has dropped substantially since 24 hours ago, and I am hoping that a significant portion will be addressed by 24 hours from now," Sifka said Thursday evening.
CL&P estimates that 98 percent of the state will have power restored by Monday or Tuesday of next week.
"If you are still without power we are fully aware, and we believe that CL&P is fully aware," said Slifka. He hopes CL&P will post specific estimates to customers as quickly as they can. Residents can call CL&P at 860-665-5000 or 800-947-2000.
The town will maintain Elmwood Community Center as a "convenience center" for charging electronics, and will open the facility at 6 a.m. Friday to accommodate those who need early morning showers.
Storm-related questions should be directed to the town's Emergency Reporting Center at 860-523-2020.
"This doesn't end when the power is back on," Slifka said. "Even if there is improvement there is room for more. It's our responsibilty to work with CL&P to do better next time."