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.