“Bomb cyclone” was an appropriate name for the type of Nor’easter storm that roared through Wilton this past weekend. Just take a look at the photos (below) that GOOD Morning Wilton has collected of the post storm damage.

As of Saturday evening, March 3, the Wilton Police Department reported that it had responded to 140 calls for service as a result of the storm; 82 of those calls were responses to road conditions such as trees and wires down in the road. Police also report that at the height of the storm the Town of Wilton experienced approximately 50 full or partial road closures. Some roads were closed through Sunday, as police and the Department of Public Works staff worked with Eversource to continue to clear roadways.

By the morning of Sunday, March 4, there were still 394 customers in Wilton without power; that dropped to 219 customers by 6 p.m. Sunday evening. Eversource estimates that the majority of customers likely would have power restored by 9 p.m. Sunday, although small or individual outages may still remain.

Complaints were high among some posters on Wilton Facebook pages about lack of perceived attention from Eversource to town outages. With trees blocking driveways and live wires on private properties and roads, many residents grew frustrated with how slow they believed the response was.

Lynne Vanderslice, Wilton’s first selectwoman, wasn’t pleased with Eversource either. She provided the following statement to GMW:

Wilton police, fire, DPW, CERT and EMS immediately and continually worked to address public safety needs and concerns throughout and after the storm. On behalf of the community, I want to recognize and thank them for another job well done.

Unfortunately, once again, Eversource did not have enough crews in Wilton. Due to the dangers associated with down power lines, Eversource must be part of the removal process. On Saturday morning at 7 a.m., we had eight DPW personnel ready to assist with tree removal associated with downed power lines. Instead they spent most of the day working on other tree removal, as Eversource didn’t arrive until almost 4 p.m.. Two of our employees worked until 4 a.m. with Eversource’s one consistent crew to make nine roads passable.

In developing their storm response, Eversource attempts to balance a mix of paid employees and contracted personnel. Based on our experience, they still don’t have the right balance.

Eversource’s performance is overseen by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), a division of the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. As a town, we can utilize our Eversource representative and our state legislators to push for more resources, but unfortunately we have to rely on the State government to mandate that Eversource have adequate resources on hand. Residents need to let PURA know about their dissatisfaction. It can’t just be elected officials.

Fortunately during this storm, Eversource’s outage reporting system seemed to operate without issue. Residents should sign up online for the system if they want the most update information on their outage.

I also encourage residents to sign up to receive the Town’s email alerts. Right now there are only 1,700 residents registered. Over the weekend, Wilton police provided information on road closures through the alerts and periodic updates on road openings through their Facebook page.

Eversource Says Repair Work is “Painstaking”

On Sunday afternoon, Eversource spokesman Frank Poirot updated GMW about how response had been progressing on the utility’s side, noting that crews were working “non-stop” despite having to work under difficult conditions.

Poirot said that almost all of the 149 towns that Eversource services were impacted by the storm, with the southwest corner of Connecticut–where Wilton is–the hardest hit region of all, most especially with peak winds that brought trees and limbs down on power lines.

“Since Friday, more than 174,000 customers in Connecticut have had power restored. We have hundreds of line and tree crews around the state working on this restoration,” he says. Utility crews from as far as Canada, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee were in CT to assist with restoration efforts. All those crews were to continue working around the clock until service could be restored, which the company expect to have the vast majority of our customers back up with power by Sunday at 9 p.m..

Eversource officials say the repair work has been very difficult.

“This has been painstaking work–in some parts of the state our crews are having to rebuild portions of the electric system,” says Michael Hayhurst, Eversource vice president of electric operations in Connecticut. “With almost 500 utility poles broken, 87 miles of electric lines down and nearly 400 blocked roads that had to be addressed, our crews have done a tremendous job and they are committed to continue working until every last customer is restored.”

Once power restoration to most Eversource customers affected by the storm is completed (hopefully by Sunday night at 9 p.m.), crews will focus on the remaining single or scattered outages. Company officials say these are “more complex outages that take additional time to complete and may require assistance from a private electrician or contractor. Line workers are going to each of these individual locations to assess what additional equipment or effort may be required to make repairs.”

Among the photos sent to GMW are an image of a house on Grumman Hill Rd. that sustained significant damage from a direct hit of a fallen tree, a massive White Pine that just missed the Woodcock Nature Center building, and other downed trees blocking roads. (Woodcock executive director Lenore Herbst says that the only damage sustained at Woodcock Nature Center was to the front of the playground fence. Volunteers worked to remove the tree and salvage as much of the trunk portion as possible for future projects around the nature center. The playground will be off-limits to the public until repairs have been made but the grounds will be open to the public as usual.)

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