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Brennan: Wilton Will Recover

An Op-Ed by First Selectman William Brennan

As of Tuesday, August 30 at 4:00 p.m., approximately 53 percent of CL&P’s customers in Wilton are without power. By Code Red telephone messages, town website postings, public e-mail dispatches and info to media sources, the town has attempted to keep residents informed of the plans to clear the wire-infested trees blocking many roads and the plans to restore power.  

The town has also set up a “Hurricane Information Hot Line”. The number is 203-663-2703. Periodically, updated recorded messages are being placed on this line to provide information on the progress of recovery efforts and to communicate other emergency information.

A state of emergency continues in Wilton and will be in effect until roads are sufficiently open to allow emergency service access to all residents’ homes.

As water supplies at local supermarkets are nearing exhaustion,  the Town is attempting to secure additional supplies from State emergency resources to meet this need. More information on water availability will be placed on the Hot Line.

A list of priorities was communicated to CL&P on Monday morning.  First priority was to open up all major roads. CL&P tree crews have been clearing wires from downed trees to enable the trees to be removed and the roads to be opened. CL&P has assessed the widespread damage and has started power restoration efforts.  At our peak outage, 81 percent of Wilton residents were without power.

Fortunately, the Norwalk River did not flood as seriously as we expected. While it did flood a low area of Route 7, which required the road to be closed on Sunday, the river receded fairly quickly and allowed the road to be reopened the next day.  

offered the use of their facilities, without charge, to residents in need of showers and lavatory facilities. r, , and the , all have power and have offered to help citizens in need of power to recharge laptop batteries, cell phones, etc.

A decision was made by school officials to set Tuesday, September 6 as the revised opening day for our schools. Considering the widespread damage,s, and widespread power outages, Wilton’s Emergency Operations Center supported this decision, as it will allow additional time to get all our roads open and for CL&P’s line crews to work more effectively with less road traffic.

For information, the Town started storm preparation activities several days before the hurricane was due in this area. The Emergency Operations Center was set up in advance and activated on Saturday, August 26. As the storm intensified on Sunday, August 27, an official state of emergency was declared due to widespread road closings, over 5,000 homes without power (68 percent) and rising flood waters, all of which endangered life and property.

The enormity of this storm has stretched state, community and utility company resources. Over 671,000 CL&P customers were without power at the peak of the storm. Many of our have also been severely impacted by the storm with widespread power outages and road closings. Given the extensive damage, power restoration to all residents is expected to take a week or more, as CL&P resources are allocated among communities and additional out of state crews arrive and start working. 

The town will continue to provide updated communications on the status of roads and power restoration activity. All activities are being coordinated with CL&P through Wilton’s Emergency Operations Center. A CL&P liaison representative is also physically present in the center to help coordinate priorities and have direct access with their operations management.

Full recovery will be a slow process and everyone’s patience will be challenged. Considering the magnitude of the damage, the consensus is that we were lucky! It could have been much worse. Fortunately, not a single citizen was killed or injured and emergency calls were at a low level before and after the storm. Damage to Town and School facilities was also relatively minor and our village center did not lose power, enabling stores to be open to service customers’ needs.

The biggest blow to the community has been the loss of power, which is a terrific hardship and inconvenience to all residents. CL&P resources are being reinforced  each day, as out of state crews arrive and are deployed. Lastly, be assured that every town resource is being employed to speed recovery and most assuredly – Wilton will recover.

 

William F. Brennan

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