Powerless in the Aftermath of the Storm

Yankee toughness was evident in many of the region's residents, who found creative ways to cope with the hardships of losing power.

The freak snow storm that hit the area on Saturday terrorized the landscape and left many residents shocked and literally powerless. Almost a week later, some towns still have just over 50 percent of homes with electricity. Some streets in Bethel, Newtown, Danbury and Monroe still look as if they had suffered the wrath of Armageddon.

 Residents survived the damage and some made their ways to the mall to keep the kids busy and warm while the gentle temperatures of midweek forced others to spend their time outdoors.

 Across the region, the coffee shops and internet cafes were packed to the gills. Suzanne and Roger Snow, Danbury, had a huge tree fall near their house during Hurricane Irene, and by Thursday, they still did not have power from the snow storm. “This has been much worse than the hurricane because the sun goes down three hours earlier and it's really cold. Last time we were able to stay home. This time we stayed with a cousin in White Plains,” Roger Snow lamented.

 Many residents opted to get out of town and stay with family or friends. In the parking lot of Bethel's Caraluzzi's Grocery Store, Lisa Breland, Bethel, pulled open the door to her van. Three blond children of varying sizes piled out.

 Breland said, “We're on city water and we have Yankee gas, and a wood burning stove, so we are very lucky, but we still feel it was unfortunate. I have three kids, and they've been playing monopoly, we've been going to the store. We stayed with family, so it was not too bad, but my brother was there, too, and three dogs. We all would have liked our space.”

 Breland's daughter Jamie, 10, didn't seem to mind the power outage. “I like getting away from the TV and radiation. The best part was no school, the worst is you can't cook certain foods,” she said.

Her brother Dylan, 8, enjoyed the adventure. “It's just a few more days and it'll be over. We made on hot chocolate on the wood stove!”

 Children in general seemed to take the hardships with grace. Ryan DeMarco, 6, Bethel, was outside dragging tree limbs with the help of his father. Ryan said, “I'd rather help my dad than go to school. The only thing is it's hard not having power or any TV.”

 Steven DeMarco, Ryan's father, was clearing the debris from the front yard of one of his rental properties. “The storm was just crazy. Me and my son have been going from house to house to clean up the branches. He's a little worker, always happy to come with me to help out. We have no power, so this is keeping him busy. He was driving his mother crazy.”

 At the Danbury Fair Mall, Dakota Sutter, 13, was having a fine time as well. “I am having fun here and staying warm!”

Donna Cairns, Naugatuck, invited all of her daughter's friends over for a sleepover on Sunday.  "The girls cuddled around the fireplace, toasting marshmellows and playing games," she said. 

 But it was less than fun and games for others. In Monroe, many of the side streets had not been cleared by late Thursday, and downed telephone poles, tree limbs and mangled wires made a depressing picture in many a front yard.

 Nancy McDonald, Monroe, said, “They put the lines back up on my street, but not our house because the line is down in the yard. They won't fix it until next week. We have a generator so we have a few lights, and water, but it's very expensive. It's about $60 a day to run it. We try to shut it off at night, but it's been very cold."

"I have arthritis and fibromyalgia," McDonald said. "CL&P doesn't care about medical conditions. I'm just a number. You take your number and wait on line. Next week if we are lucky. The house is so cold, I am just walking around in a daze.”

“I don't see any improvement from the last time."  Suzanne Snow said. "Why is it taking so long to fix everything? It's about 45 degrees in my house. I don't think the winter can be much worse than this, but if this is going to become a normal thing, I guess we'll get a generator.”

 “I am going to prepare for the future with more batteries and water on hand,” Breland said. “I have friends without stoves, they were freezing. We've been fortunate.  You know, we'll all survive.”

Bob November 07, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Hopefully CL&P will start trimming trees again. Some of these outages could have been avoided if they actually trimmed the trees like most other utility companies. Preventative measures are much cheaper than reactive measures where crews have be brought in from around the country.
John M. Joy November 07, 2011 at 06:56 PM
Yes. The problem is, the damage is already done: the deferred maintenance (years' worth), followed by the double whammy of Irene and the freak winter storm, means we have mile after of mile of ROW with weakened overgrowth (not to mention whatever beating and deferred maintenance the distribution plant, itself, has taken). Even if every tree company in the country were in state right now, they couldn't get it cleaned up in time for the winter season. The prudent thing to do now is assume that power will be less than reliable for the foreseeable future.


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