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Norwalk Mayor Blasts CL&P’s Response To Hurricane Sandy

A fallen tree on Old Field Road in Norwalk Friday has almost brought down power lines. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch
Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia Friday discusses CL&P's Hurricane Sandy response on Friday as Norwalk Emergency Management Director Michele DeLuca listens. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

NORWALK, Conn. – Joining a growing chorus of municipal officials unhappy with the slow restoration of power outages, Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia criticized Connecticut Light & Power on Friday for its lack of urgency after Hurricane Sandy.

A total of 25 CL&P line crews and 12 tree crews were working throughout Norwalk on Friday, Moccia said, but it took too many days to ramp up to that level. The CL&P crews joined 20 two-man tree crews from Norwalk’s Department of Public Works in clearing streets throughout the city.

But as of 5 p.m. Friday, 83 Norwalk roads remained impassable due to downed trees and wires, he said. Another 134 fallen trees had knocked down wires, but those roads were drivable.

“CL&P’s response has been disastrous,” Moccia said during a press briefing in City Hall. No CL&P representatives were present. “It appears they haven’t learned anything from the last couple of major storms from last year, and, in fact, it has gotten worse.”

Norwalk and other Fairfield County towns were promised a quick response to Hurricane Sandy from CL&P officials, Moccia said. But instead, many of those crews were on standby in Canada and faraway states such as Minnesota. Bringing them into the area took multiple days.

As of about 5 p.m. Friday, 44 percent of CL&P’s customers in Norwalk were without power, or more than 13,200 households and businesses. The number was lower earlier in the day, but it climbed customers had to be taken off line as worked continued on nearby streets.

Norwalk’s other two power utilities, South Norwalk Electric & Water and the Third Taxing District Electric Co., reported that nearly all of their customers – with the exception of 200 or less between the two – have their electricity back.

“You can’t compensate for lack of planning by doubling down on the number of press releases you issue,” Moccia said of CL&P. The utility company appeared to concentrate on easy repairs to boost the perception of a quick response, instead of dealing with harder to repair areas early on, he said.

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