UI, Eversource: Could be days before some get power back

March 9, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — Power companies serving Connecticut said Thursday evening some customers without power may be in the dark for days as crews work to make repairs.

Blame it on two snowstorms that thrashed across the state, the most recent on Wednesday, dropping anywhere from 5 to 27 inches depending on location.

Bridgeport and Norwalk reported 6 and 6.1 inches of snowfall respectively; Danbury had 16.2 inches and Monroe got 16 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

With the storm came snow, rain and winds that ripped down trees and power lines. Some areas of the state experienced snowthunder.

The storm came on the heels of a nor’easter last Friday that tore across the region, leaving 2.7 million without power in its wake.

Some of those who lost power during last Friday’s storm had to wait days before their lights were back on. And that reality returned with Wednesday’s snowstorm, when roughly 1 million people in the area lost power.

And as power restoration efforts continue, another storm is on the horizon for Connecticut. The state could see a chance of snow before noon on Monday, which will switch over to rain. Temperatures will hover between 30 and 40 degrees.

Wednesday’s storm did significant damage to the United Illuminating power system, said the company’s President and CEO, Tony Marone.

“Lots of heavy snow brought down many trees,” he said Thursday.

But Connecticut wasn’t the only state hit hard by the snowstorm.

In Massachusetts, more than 320,000 households remained without power Thursday. By 4 p.m., National Grid reported 255,035 customers in the dark and an additional 65,386 were reported without lights by Eversource.

Utility company FirstEnergy reported a combined 178,000 customers without service in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Wednesday evening.

A 33-year-old middle school teacher in Manchester Township, N.J., was hospitalized after her umbrella was struck by lightning while she was on bus duty outside a school during the thundersnow Wednesday. She was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Prolonged outages

Monroe officials said more than 30 percent of the town remained without power Thursday.

“We have been told to anticipate some level of outages to continue throughout the weekend, if not longer,” Monroe officials said in a statement. As of 7:15 p.m. Thursday, 1,724 Eversource customers remained without power there.

It was similar in Norwalk, which reported 2,572 Eversource customers without power as of 7:15 p.m. Thursday.

A priority in the city is clearing blocked roads for emergency vehicles, Norwalk officials said, and then power restoration will become the focus.

“This will be a long restoration process, we appreciate everyone’s patience with the first responders and public works staff trying to assist,” town officials said.

Ongoing restoration efforts

As of Thursday night, Marone said, UI was in the process of completing a damage assessment of the system.

“This effort is ongoing and it will continue to go on until every customer is restored,” UI’s Marone said.

“This is a big event, a big outage, for us so ... it could be another few days before every customer has their power back on,” he said.

Thursday morning, there were 142,000 people in Connecticut — about 4 percent of the population — in the dark, according to UI and Eversource data. By 7:15 p.m., that number had been knocked down to 96,409.

As restoration efforts proceed, Marone said, UI crews will work nonstop. He said the company submitted requests Thursday for assistance from “outside the (UI) territory.”

Eversource echoed similar sentiments Thursday via Twitter.

“We do not have any estimated restoration times at this moment, but will provide them as soon as we have them. Please plan to be without power for multiple days as we work through this restoration,” Eversource said.

Travel impact

More than 2,700 flights were canceled across the county Wednesday, according to FlightAware, and more than 2,400 additional flights were delayed.

After multiple Greater Bridgeport Transit buses got stuck in snow on city streets Wednesday, services were suspended for the evening around 6:20 p.m.

Amtrak modified its evening schedule Wednesday.

And downed power lines and trees forced Metro-North Railroad to suspend some train lines. The New Canaan and Danbury branches remained suspended Thursday, Metro-North said on Twitter. The two suspended lines were expected to resume regular service Friday.

“We faced fallen trees across tracks and into overhead wires during (the storm) and are now working hard to resume regular service,” the railroad service said Thursday.

The storm rages on

The snowstorm — which came from the Midwest — was headed north Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Snow was expected to continue to fall across northern and eastern New England throughout the evening Thursday. With that snow, the NWS said, gusty winds were expected.

As of early Thursday, the weather service said, the storm had dumped more than 30 inches of snow on southern Vermont.