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Why Branford Has No Power

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Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:45 pm

Prior to Hurricane Irene, plans were made in expectation of mass power outages. Connecticut Light and Power made plans to maximize staffing and contracted for additional out of town support. For the local area, a great deal of that support came from Canada.

Once the storm hit, plans were enacted to be on schedule and provide multiple crews to the shoreline, including Branford. However, the storm continued on, and issues in Canada forced many of the back up technicians to return north, leaving Branford with minimal support.

Early on, it was clear the delay for power would be extensive.

Making matters worse, restoring power is a 3-step process. First, the wires need to be made safe, essentially turning off the power. Once this is done, trees that have fallen on wires can be removed. There are many in town with the ability to remove trees, including Public works. But they cannot do this work until technicians make sure there are no live wires.

With no support from the additional technicians, Branford has seen just I or 2 crews from CL&P for the last 3 days. While they are working around the clock, in 16 hour shifts, and by all accounts are moving swiftly, it is simply not enough to get Branford back on line in a timely manner.

Currently, crews are being rushed in, but are not here yet. Some of the crews are reportedly from as far away as Washington State.

As of 12:30, there were approximately 7 major areas that need to have trees removed before power can be restored. Once these areas are cleared, we may see power back on quickly.

These areas are: Flat Rock Road, Stony Creek Raod near Rte. 137, Block Island Road, Pine Orchard Raod near Knollwoods, Jefferson Road, Hosley Ave, and Featherbed Road by Oakgate.

Unfortunately, actually seeing the few CL&P crews working in Branford is difficult, but they are there. Far more were planned. With the entire town going black, Branford has the second highest amount of residents without power in the state, behind Stamford.

For the time being, Branford is making plans tohelp residents regain normalcy. Overnight accomodations are being shut down unless absolutely necessary. The primary shelter, Mary T.Murphy School, is closing, and its' generator is being moved to the Community Center, which will allow residents to use the showers and charge cell phones as needed.

Gas stations along the Post Road on the west side of town are reopening, and many accept cash and credit cards. The Parthenon Diner has reopened using a generator, with a limited menu. The Walgreens near the movie theater is open, as its its pharmacy for medical needs.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Anonymous posted at 5:03 pm on Tue, Aug 30, 2011.

    Anonymous Posts: 6985

    I wish the town website was up to pass along information. I haven't been able to access it for days. East Haven is doing a great job keeping there taxpayers up t0 date! Would also appreciate it if the powers that be would do something about providing ice and be batteries!!!! There are none to be found!

  • Anonymous posted at 7:32 pm on Tue, Aug 30, 2011.

    Anonymous Posts: 6985

    This is the type of current, incisive reporting that no other town has -- thanks for this info.

  • Anonymous posted at 10:34 am on Wed, Aug 31, 2011.

    Anonymous Posts: 6985

    Earlier this year, we had a tree service come out to prune the trees around our property (thank goodness for that now!). We asked them about branches that were close to the power lines, and they told us we had to call CL&P.

    So, we called CL&P and told them that branches close to the power line posed a potential problem if there were high winds. CL&P told us that they no longer performed precautionary pruning, that it was their policy first to wait for the damage to occur and then to perform repairs.

    Obviously, in hindsight this policy seems quite short-sighted. I wonder how we might get someone to whom they would listen to ask them to reconsider?

  • Anonymous posted at 9:42 am on Thu, Sep 1, 2011.

    Anonymous Posts: 6985

    One reason why so much of Branford still is without power has nothing to do with a "once in a 75-year storm." Instead, it is a shocking * bit of negligence.

    It is well known that Meadow Street near Hammer Field floods regularly, the town even posts a big sign on Indian Neck Road near the railroad underpass that warns of flooding. We have a weather forecast calling for heavy rains combined with a storm surge; how hard would it be to predict that this part of Meadow Street would be in serious danger of flooding?

    Then why was nothing done in advance to protect the Meadow Street substation from flood waters? This substation powers all of Indian Neck and is one reason why Indian Neck typically has power back sooner than anywhere else in town.

    Not now. Any part of town powered from the Meadow Street substation is still without power. Around 4:10 AM Sunday, there was an extremely bright light, not just a flash of light but a bright light that lasted several seconds. It seems pretty clear that the Meadow Street substation flooded and shorted out. Sunday afternoon, Indian Neck Road was underwater from the bridge around the corner, there was very deep water covering the railroad underpass, and the corner of Meadow near Hammer Field was very deep underwater as well.

    How could they have left the Meadow Street substation unprotected when it is in a known flood area and heavy flooding was predicted?

    Many of the other problems can be attributed to the unusual nature of the storm, but not this part of the problem. We have every right to be angry over this oversight. I hope we can mark this problem and return to it once power is restored so that something can be done to prevent such careless sloppy irresponsible negligence from ever happening again.

    * pun intended.

  • Jerry Araneo posted at 1:09 pm on Thu, Sep 8, 2011.

    Jerry Araneo Posts: 5

    Thanks for writing this article, and I "only" lost power from 0850 Sunday to 6pm Wednesday. I think we need to be better prepared for the next storm. So please go and interview our first selectman to find out what his plan is. I would think common sense would suggest we call CL&P on the carpet and make sure they get to proactive pruning and perhaps supplemented with our towns resources. I find it unacceptable for one of the comments provided that he called CL&P and they no longer performed precautionary pruning. IF this is a true statement, I would expect our first selectman to get them on the carpet to change this unacceptable policy immediately. I called a friend of mine in Maine and he said his power company perform annual proactive prunning. I would also like to know why/how did our entire town go down? Not one person was able to keep their power? This leads me to believe someone decided to turn the power off? is this the case? Let's be transparent to what happened. Also, are there any issues with the power station across from Cheri's bakery, might that need to be beefed up? at the CL&P expense of course.


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