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First Selectman Blasts CL&P for Slow Response

There are seven trucks in Monroe today, but First Selectman Steve Vavrek said CL&P only assessed the town's situation of massive power outages during the first two days.

Police officers are leading Connecticut Light & Power Co. crews to Monroe's hardest hit areas today with a concentration on Barn Hill Road, Elm Street and East Village Road, according to First Selectman Steve Vavrek, who estimates that just under 70 percent of the town is still without power in the wake of Saturday's rare October snowstorm.

He also complimented Department of Public Works crews for plowing snow during the storm then removing trees and debris from town roadways. However, he blasted CL&P for merely evaluating Monroe's situation for the first two days before attempting to make serious repairs.

"I got calls from lines people saying they were waiting for calls," Vavrek said during an interview in his Monroe Town Hall office Tuesday afternoon. "CL&P has been a complete and utter disaster. All they told us is that they were assessing and evaluating the lay of the land."

First Vavrek said he was told there was one emergency crew, then two, then back to one. He said the first CL&P liaisson was giving him bad information. "I hung up on him," Vavrek said.

Now Monroe has Alan Price, the same liaisson it had during Tropical Storm Irene, according to Vavrek. "He started getting us more trucks," Vavrek said.

The first selectman said he could understand a need to evaluate and assess Monroe if storm Irene had not been so recent.

Though the first selectman conceded that much of the state had been hit hard by the power outages, he expressed his belief that CL&P should have been better prepared.

"This is a CL&P regional disaster," he said. "They did not do the job. Everybody knew it was coming. Our staff and the DPW were ready, and to have two days to assess when they knew about it ..."

Vavrek doubts the accuracy of CL&P's outage numbers, but encourages residents to call the power company to complain about its response.

Some have noticed a lot of trucks in neighboring Newtown, but Vavrek said that is because it is the location of CL&P's distribution center.

As the line crews work, Vavrek reminds residents that some neighborhoods could temporarily lose power while another area is being fixed.

A Resilient Town

The first selectman praised the work of Edith Wheeler Memorial Library Dir. Margaret Borchers, children's librarian Libby Mueller and their staff for showing movies to visitors spending time at the library, which is being used as a warming center and had previously been used as a shelter.

Monroe Senior Center Dir. Barbara Yeager and her staff have been serving meals to people staying there, according to Vavrek. The senior center has been used as a warming center and emergency shelter throughout.

He also praised Monroe Public Schools administrators for working closely with the town at this time, and said Board of Education custodians have been assisting the town.

CL&P had initially estimated that it would take a week or longer to restore power to all of Monroe and Vavrek had no revised estimate Tuesday.

He said the town's emergency response team has worked to ensure that all shelters are stocked with food and commended volunteers who have pitched in to help others.

"We're a very resilient town," Vavrek said.

The first selectman encourages anyone who wants information about the power outages to call his town hall office at (203) 452-2821.

dolphinlover November 03, 2011 at 02:04 AM
I read somewhere that we are the state with the 2nd most trees. Maine is first. Obviously something has to be done and quickly before we have a nasty ice storm this winter and have to endure this all over again
monroe taxpayer November 03, 2011 at 03:31 AM
Wall Street Journal describes the problem http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203804204577014290229234100.html
Stephanie G November 03, 2011 at 02:45 PM
My husband shared an interesting story with me last night. One of his colleagues lives in Fairfield, and is therefore a UI customer. They never lost power, but on Monday, he realized that there was a tree limb hanging on a wire in front of his house. He called UI to tell them and said that it wasn't an emergency, he just wanted to let them know. Within 25 minutes, he had THREE UI trucks sitting in front of his house, with two workers per truck. They checked the wire and said that it wasn't theirs and belonged to either Cablevision or AT&T. They then proceeded to sit in front of his house with their trucks idling for THREE hours, not doing anything. Wasn't UI supposed to send their crews to help out CL&P customers once they were finished with their own outages? It's just conjecture on my part, but is this another case of CL&P not having paid for assistance during Irene and therefore, nobody being in a rush to come lend assistance again? Meanwhile, I seem to trip over AT&T trucks during these storm cleanups - they have folks everywhere. How are they able to deploy people adequately? We lost our U-verse service on Sunday afternoon and on Monday morning, they had a worker at a nearby pole using his truck to charge the batteries of their equipment until their backup generators arrived in the area.
captrips November 03, 2011 at 02:51 PM
From the category of, "the corpse from the snowstorm isn't even cold yet and Northeast Utilities is already hinting at rate hikes..." CL&P/Northeast Utilities has ZERO CONSCIENCE. Read today's CT Post where they are quoting storm costs and already reassuring shareholders. "Butler said Thursday the storm will cost $100 million to cleanup, on top of a $100 million bill the utility has from Tropical Storm Irene. Parent company Northeast Utilities told investor analysts in September that ratepayers, not investors, will pay for the Irene-related cleanup. It's standard in the industry for ratepayers to pay operating costs such as electrical restoration." Can you believe the unmitigated gall of these people? We pay the highest electric rates in the contiguous 48 states, CL&P has failed miserably 2X in 2 months and they are being attacked on all fronts and they publicly state this? A total disregard for government and consumers and no insight or worry on the public relations front.
Alan Newton November 03, 2011 at 02:59 PM
The point is that trumbull is one twon over and they had little affected by this storm. CL&P is responsible for line maintenance and trees iin close proximity. They did nothing since the hurricane and now this occurred. CL&P should be hit where it hurts, in the wallet. We pay the 3rd highest rates in the United States, Hawaii and Alaska are first. Why not ask for a change? CL&P is clearly not doing their job. 6 days without power, is that acceptable to you? What about our wonderful GOV. Malloy. backing CL&P. Not backing legislature to hold CL&P accountable for their actions and Imposing fines etc. Thank you for the story Stephanie. It was very helpful. UI is excellent and they aren't stupid either. If you won't get paid, why help?

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