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Norwalkers Take Power Loss in Stride

NORWALK, Conn. — Liz Van Doren's dog was free to chase the garbage man Monday morning. With no electricity in the neighborhood, the invisible fence that usually restrains her was down. "She was down the street," Van Doren said. "That's pretty exciting because he usually has cookies."

Van Doren and her 88-year-old mother were among the Norwalkers still without power Monday afternoon. But she was taking it pretty well. "Things happen," the resident of Live Oak Road said. "I can't even fathom what kind of a job this is to restore this stuff."

Progress has been made, though. Connecticut Light & Power listed 5,632 customers out of power at 3 p.m. Sunday. At 10:40 p.m. Monday, the number had dropped to 1,781, 6 percent of the utility's customers here. Norwalk is faring much better than northern parts of the state, where 81 percent to 100 percent of CL&P customers don't have power.

But that won't make Jeff Conrad feel warmer. When he left his home in the Cranbury section Monday morning, the temperature was in the 40s – indoors. One thermostat said it was 42 degrees, another said 48. "I've been staying out of the house as much as possible," Conrad said, adding that he didn't know what his wife was doing.

They keep the thermostat at 56 during the day, so it hadn't dropped that far. "You look at what's happening in Turkey and you look at what happening in Thailand and you say, 'You know, this is a pain in the neck but nothing compared to what some people are going through.'"

Conrad was keeping warm at the Norwalk Public Library, where he is a volunteer. Other people came in because the power and school were out, according to reference librarian Susannah Violino. "There were a lot more people here this morning than usual," she said.

All of the 22 computers were in use in late afternoon, and there was a wait time of 10 to 15 minutes, she said, which was highly unusual. Violino had just asked a patron to move, because she was using a laptop in the middle of the room, with a power cable running across the floor where people could trip on it. "You only see that happening when power is out in other places," she said.

The power outage has been good for some local businesses: Conrad said he and his wife would go out to dinner, as they did Sunday night. Wait staff at Bertucci's said Sunday night that they were much busier than usual.

Sports Authority had a spike in business before and after the storm, the general manager said. Sunday was "crazy busy," with people buying gloves, hats, mittens, coats and portable heaters. The store was sold out of some camp stoves and propane Monday evening.

Van Doren said she and her mother were cooking in the fireplace and "wearing a lot of layers of clothes, because it's cold."

She went to the gym to take a shower, but her mother said no. The book on her nightstand was starting to look appealing, even though she's had it for a year and is only on Page 39. Van Doren said, "I said to my mother, we might actually have to start reading."

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