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Malloy Questions Utilities' Hurricane Sandy Response

In his afternoon briefing Malloy said he's been told by some town leaders that the help they're getting from the utility companies is less than what the utilities have told Malloy they are doing.

For the first time since Hurricane Sandy blew a swath of destruction through Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is questioning the response by the state's two main utility companies to widespread power outages and warning that both could be censured by regulators if that response is found lacking.

While calling on the 217,000 residents who are still without power following Hurricane Sandy to be patient while they wait for their lights to come back on,  Malloy today said he is troubled by reports that some towns might not be getting an appropriate number of utility work crews.

In his afternoon briefing on the cleanup efforts from the superstorm that hit the state Monday and Tuesday, Malloy said he also has told leaders of CL&P and United Illuminating that he expects them to do all they can to get power mostly restored faster than their current estimate of Monday or Tuesday.

“I have communicated to both companies, in blunt fashion, that I want them to do better than that.”

Malloy said he’s also concerned about reports from some municipal leaders that they don’t have as many utility workers as were promised.

“I’m hearing some of the same complaints that I heard last year. One of the ones that bothers me the most is that what utility companies are telling me is not lining up with what mayors or first selectmen say is happening in their towns and I’ve asked for an accounting of that disconnect. I’m not sure who’s right and who’s wrong.”

At the same time, Malloy again asked residents and town leaders to be patient as workers toil to bring power back fully.

“This was a titanic event that only ended hours ago, not weeks.”

Under a new state law passed after last year’s two devastating storms, the utilities will be subjected to a state review of their response to Hurricane Sandy and the power outages. If the state finds that response lacking, Malloy said, both CL&P and United Illuminating could be subjected to fines.

“I want every resident of the state to know that there is a process to test (the companies) and that test will be undertaken.”

Malloy spoke twice today with President Barack Obama to discuss the state’s restoration progress, once privately and once in a conference call with other governors from other Northeast states affected by the storm.

The president, he said, has assured him that he will work to help Connecticut get a full disaster declaration. Currently, only the state’s four shoreline counties have been granted that designation by the federal government, Middlesex, Fairfield, New London and New Haven.

Other highlights of the governor’s briefing included:

  • There have been 29 confirmed carbon monoxide poisonings since the hurricane hit, 26 related to the use of generators in unventilated or poorly ventilated areas. Malloy again urged residents using generators to make sure they are outside and far enough away from windows or doors that the exhaust does not find its way inside.
  • He reiterated that financial assistance is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for residents, businesses and municipalities but registration is required. You can register by calling 800.621.FEMA, or 800.462.7585 for the hearing impaired.
  • The state has gotten $2 million in federal funding to repair state highways in Old Saybrook, West Haven and Bethel.
  • The state has issued a boil advisory for 69 small water systems in the state where the water might have been contaminated. Malloy said that despite the advisory, the vast majority of water in the state is safe to drink.
  • He again warned would-be price gougers that if they take advantage of the crisis in some communities to scam residents “we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
  • He warned residents still waiting for power to come back on not to take their frustrations out on power line workers they encounter, saying he’s heard reports of some incidents of people yelling at linemen or stopping them to ask questions. “Please leave the line workers alone. It’s not their fault. They didn’t cause this storm, please let them do their jobs.”
Thomas Pope November 02, 2012 at 12:29 PM
I thought Malloy was committed to clearing trees away from utility areas so we wouldn't keep having these outages. I drove to New Jersey early monday morning and the outages for Ct were already more than in New Jersey and the winds weren't even that strong. I stayed in a hotel in New Jersey where the winds were twice as strong and yet the power never went out but my section of Monroe is still out. Milloy needs to hold CL&P accountable. The frequency and length of the outages in my town of Monroe is ridiculous. - Thomas Pope
Jacob's Mama November 02, 2012 at 01:18 PM
I agree Thomas Pope. It seems like no one cares about us because we are not a major city. Where the hell is Vavrek? I haven't heard from him on the radios, facebook, anything. Oh wait..it was his birthday yesterday..he thanked everyone for the birthday wishes.
I Live Here Too November 02, 2012 at 02:52 PM
He posted a lengthy message on FB yesterday. And why are we comparing NJ to CT? It's like apples and oranges. Quit complaining. So we lost power for a few days. We'll manage. Many others have lost their homes, their loved ones and have to put their entire lives back together. I think we can live with throwing some food away in exhange for losing everything.
B November 02, 2012 at 03:26 PM
One question for I live Here Too.... Have u gotten your power back? No Ct is nowhere near what NJ is like, however,if we are promised all these crews here, where are they? I did see a few tree crews out ( very greatful to them all), but nothing like we are being told.. It's just not a matter of throwing out your perishables, but being accountable for what should have and should be done. And all of a sudden Malloy is wondering where these crews are, hmmm wasn't he the one who said they were here in the first place? And now we will examine the problem again and fine the utilities co. By the way, I still have the recorded w message from CL&P about how much better prepared for sndy than they were for Irene & the snow storm last fall!
QWERTY November 02, 2012 at 03:49 PM
“This was a titanic event that only ended hours ago, not weeks.” No DAN, it ended DAYS ago...not hours ago. I can't stand this bumbling fool. Go do a press conference with FEMA and the rest of your inept political friends, everyone seemed happy getting their face on TV.

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