Hit hard by three natural disasters in 3 months folks in Connecticut are starting to get more than just a little irritated with the state’s power company, Connecticut Light and Power. With, at one point, almost 70% of it’s customers without power and with 50% (600,000) still without power 4 days after the latest storm.
A freak wet heavy October snow storm brought down power lines across the state, and on the heals of Hurricane Irene which affected nearly as many, people have a right to wonder how long must this folly continue before someone figures out there’s a power grid problem here.
Connecticut is a small state, so to put this in perspective imagine 60% of your entire state without power for more than a week. OK? Now the reasons for this are primarily geographic but also cultural. It’s New England, which is heavily forested and people here guard their trees like family members. In many cases power lines run under trees more than a hundred years old, and some older. Residents guard them jelously. Additionally the state runs by “home rule”. Simply put tree cutting is a town’s responsibility.
Thus when a storm like this one runs through the state these old trees fall, taking power lines with them. Trimming trees haven’t been enough. If the state is serious about preventing another power disaster like this one … tree lined streets need to be a thing of the past.
Additionally preparedness is not Connecticut’s forte. In Florida, gas stations on evacuation routes must have backup generators. Here, there are none.Tthat means no power equals no gas, so even if you have a generator, you can’t power it. What’s more, while in states like Florida and the Gulf states people are used to preparing themselves in case of a natural disaster. Not so much here, ironically, in the land of rugged individualism.
Finally there was an issue regarding power crews from other states. Governor Malloy complained that the Edison Power compact did not distribute out of state crews equitably in the Northeast after the storm went through. So while courageous crews from South Carolina, Missouri, North Carolina and West Virginia were on the scene almost immediately … there were not nearly enough given the damage done. The question is why?
Crews will soon be here from Florida and Texas to put the state back together again but it will be all for naught if changes are not made,
- The state must mandate that any tree near a power line …any … must come down. Period.
- The state must require gas stations on main state roads have back up power as they do in Florida.
- Staging must be taken seriously by CL&P no matter how iffy the forecast. Expect the worst.
- Finally the Media, as they do in Florida must do a better job of helping residents with preparedness tips, radio and TV with frequent announcements, newspapers with pullout sections complete with preparedness tips, as that do again, in Florida