As of Wednesday morning, Aug. 5, Eversource reports that 72% of Wilton is without power, as close to 5,400 of the utility’s customers have been impacted by outages caused by Tropical Storm Isaias. The storm brought down trees, wires, and utility poles, closing or impeding 84 roads–a number that could rise as more calls come in to police and SeeClickFix complaints are filed.
Wilton’s neighboring communities were also hit hard–the Eversource outage map shows devastating power outages in Westport (97%), Weston (96%), New Canaan (80%), Redding (96%), and Ridgefield (90%). During the height of the storm, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice compared Isaias to a Nor’easter that hit Wilton in March 2018 and overwhelmed the town with debris.
Damage across Connecticut was extensive, and a 66-year-old Naugatuck man was killed by a falling tree. Not only did Eversource report over 688,000 Connecticut customers without power, but the company experienced its own damage to a number of transformers.
Complicating matters, there was also a problem with Eversource’s automated outage-reporting system. Many Wilton customers had difficulty registering their outages and initial information didn’t accurately reflect the scope of power loss in town.
Tuesday evening, Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross told GMW, “We are still working to resolve issues with our automated outage-reporting systems and proactively reaching out to customers via email and phone to confirm outages. We are aware of the significant number of outages across Connecticut, we are actively working to assess the damage across the state, and we have all of our crews, as well as additional resources ready to begin restoration as soon as it is safe.”
Residents with outages to report can do so online; anyone experiencing difficulty has been told to call 860-286-2000.
In her nightly COVID-19 update email, Vanderslice informed residents that power restoration will be very slow-going. “We don’t have an estimate from Eversource as to when power will be fully restored, but residents should expect it could take up to several days.”
Eversource has power restoration protocols that make it likely that Vanderslice’s words of caution are true. She listed the company’s process for repair after storm damage:
- “Eversource completes its “make safe work” before power restoration. An initial crew assesses the situation to determine the scope of the work and what resources are required. A different crew performs the necessary work. Only Eversource personnel are allowed to remove their downed wires.
- “Power is restored first to emergency and health centers.
- “Restoration efforts are prioritized based on the number of customers serviced by the outage issue. The larger the number of customers, the higher the priority.”
Vanderslice added that “Wilton Police, Fire, and DPW personnel, along with Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps members and C.E.R.T volunteers, worked throughout the day and into the evening to maintain public safety and clear roads that do not have Eversource downed wires. Work will continue [Wednesday]. Thank you to everyone who used SeeClickFix to report non-emergency tree issues.”
Town crews will do as much as they are allowed to do, but they are prohibited from doing anything related to working with wires to repair outages and restore power.
“We recognize the frustration that accompanies a day or more without power. We will be doing what we can to move Eversource’s work along as quickly as possible,” Vanderslice wrote.
UPDATE, Aug. 5, 8:45 a.m.: The Wilton Library drive-thru window is closed today due to a power outage in Wilton Center. Wilton Library’s physical building is also closed. The power outage affects the library’s website and therefore the Digital Library. When power is restored, the Digital Library will be available again at www.wiltonlibrary.org.