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8:40 — CL&P was reporting 68% of Ridgefield customers without power at 8:35 p.m. Thursday. That’s 7,311 Ridgefield customers in the dark, and 3,366 with lights and power. “We’re currently hovering around 65% to 70% outage,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said at his evening news briefing. The numbers change as circuits are brought back on line, but then turned off so lines branching off them can be worked on. Then when that work’s done, both can be re-energized. There were 19 line crews working in town Thursday, along a greater number of tree crews and with 22 national guardsmen. All are expected back tomorrow, and Mr. Marconi said, and he is hopeful the numbers will increase as crews finish up elsewhere and are transferred here. But there’s so much damage. “This isn’t going to be fixed tomorrow, or Saturday,” Mr. Marconi said. “There’s a tremendous amount of work. It’s going to take a while.”
8:15 — Don’t be stupid with generators! “We’ve had generator fires because people are filling generators while they’re running,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said Thursday evening. A more common problem is breathing carbon monoxide from generators running in garages and basements. Ridgefielders have been taken to both Norwalk and Danbury hospitals to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, he said. Generators will say “Do not use in inclement weather” so people hook them up in enclosed areas. “What’s the worst that can happen, it’ll stall,” Mr. Marconi said. But breathing carbon monoxide can be fatal, and the gas is odorless. “Put them outside!” he said.
8:05 — “We’re making every effort we can to reopen schools next week. It’s going to be tough,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said at his Thursday evening press briefing. School Superintendent Deborah Low will be sending out an update on the school situation Friday afternoon, he said, but that may be too early to announce a firm decision on whether there will be school Monday.
6:15 — At 6 a.m. Thursday CL&P had 40% of its Ridgefield customers restored. That’s 4,231 online, and 6,446 offline. The number kept dropping back all day until late in the afternoon when 31% online were online; 3,281 with power and 7396 without. In massive-outage situations like this, power companies often have to shut down working lines in order to fix lines that run off them. That’s probably what’s been going on. We hope it also means a lot of people will be turned back on — and get power restored — this evening.
5:15 — The Rec Center on Danbury Road is fully open as an overnight shelter, and also offers charging of electrical devices, coffee and snacks. Eighteen people stayed overnight in the shelter Wednesday night, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said Thursday. Shelter Supervisor Peter Keeler estimated the shelter was seeing 1,200 to 1,500 visitors a day, mostly for showers, charging of electrical devices, and coffee. “The door doesn’t stop. It just doesn’t close, people going in and out,” he said. Snacks available to drops-ins are mostly juice, chips, cookies and coffee. “We pretty much have the coffee pot going 18 hours a day,” Mr. Keeler said.
5:01 — Four pets were enjoying the town’s pet shelter at the Recreation Center off Danbury Road on Thursday afternoon, and reservations had been made for two more. “Two dogs and two cats now, two more cats expected,” Recreation Center Shelter Supervisor Peter Keeler said. “They have to make sure they have litter and food and proof of rabies shots.” Pets can come with cages to stay in, but they don’t have to. “We have cages,” Mr. Keeler said. “Most important they have to have proof of rabies vaccination,” he said.
4:26 — AT&T has been placing generators on some of its equipment, restoring television, Internet and phone service to some customers.
4:14 — Two of the town’s three polling places now have electricity restored, and First Selectman Rudy Marconi was optimistic — but making no guarantees — that all three would be up and running for the coming election. “We think there’s not an issue,” Mr. Marconi said Thursday afternoon, five days before election day, Nov. 6. Yanity Gym, the District Three polling place, has had electricity restored. And there is also power again at Scotts Ridge Middle School, which now houses polling stations for both of Ridgebury’s voting districts, District Two and the new District Four. East Ridge Middle School, which is the polling place for District One, was still without power early Thursday afternoon. But Mr. Marconi said that school — on the corner of Branchville Road, state Route 102, and East Ridge Road, in the village, was on a “major trunk line” of the electrical grid and was not likely to be one of the last places in town to have power restored. After last October’s snowstorm knocked out power for several days, the restoration of electricity at East Ridge Middle School was slower than expected due to problems with the wiring inside the building — a difficulty that is not expected to be repeated.
4 — Volunteers are needed by the town both to help at the shelter at the Recreation Center, and to man the phone bank at the Emergency Operations Center in Yanity Gym. If interested, call 203-431-2348, 203-431-2350 or 203-431-2351.
3:35 — Governor Dannel Malloy announced homeowners won’t have to pay higher “hurricane deductibles” in the state because of a post-Irene law that limits when insurers can impose the extra cost. “The state moved very swiftly to alert the industry that this storm – although devastating to so many – did not meet the criteria for a hurricane deductible under state law. Homeowners will not have to pay high-cost hurricane deductibles for damage resulting from this storm,” Gov. Malloy said. “Based on the lessons learned from Tropical Storm Irene, we have built stronger consumer protections into our insurance laws. The Insurance Department will be working with the industry to monitor these claims.” The new law requires that a hurricane warning be issued for Connecticut and that the National Weather Service record sustained hurricane force winds of at least 74 miles per hour, according to a statement from Gov. Malloy and state Insurance Department Commissioner Thomas B. Leonardi.
3:19 — SATs set for Saturday, Nov. 3, have been rescheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17, according to a message from RHS Principal Dr. Stacey Gross. She said that many colleges have extended early application deadlines but students should check with individual colleges on their websites or by contacting their admissions departments directly.
3 — Burning permits for outdoor fires have been suspended by the town, First Selectman Rudy Marconi announced Thursday. He had said Wednesday that the Fire Department was very concerned about the difficult of getting emergency vehicles — both fire trucks and ambulances — around town with so many of the roads blocked.
2:29 — Sixty-eight percent of the electrical meters in Ridgefield were still without power about 2:15 Thursday, according to CL&P. Statewide, the utility is estimating that 98% of Connecticut customers will have electricity restored by next Tuesday, Nov. 6, election day. First Selectman Rudy Marconi said in his Thursday afternoon press briefing that it could not be deduced from the utility’s statewide estimate that 98% of Ridgefield would be restored by next Tuesday. “That means 98% of the total outages in Connecticut,” he said. “There will obviously be many areas, or pockets, where restoration will extend beyond that. Our hope is that we’re not one of those pockets — but we don’t know.”
2:13 — The number of utility line crews working to restore electrical power in Ridgefield increased from three to 16 on Thursday, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said, with a potential for more trucks and workers out on the roads later in the afternoon. Road clearing is being led by 22 National Guard servicepeople who arrived late Wednesday and stayed over night in the town’s Emergency Operation Center. “This morning we had approximately three line crews with corresponding tree crews, with National Guard. They’re attacking a list of approximately 100 roads,” Mr. Marconi said at his press briefing early Thursday afternoon. “We have 16 line crews, with tree crews, who’ll begin the restoration process behind the crews clearing the roads.” Northeast Utilities (NU), the parent company of CL&P, has a larger number of crews from the Midwest and western Massachusetts gathering in town — an NU incident commander estimated shortly after noon that there were at least 32 trucks and crews getting safety briefings and awaiting instructions on where to go — but it was not clear that all of them would be working in Ridgefield, once the assignments were handed out.
1:54 — Cell phone service problems people, especially Verizon customers, have been experiencing are expected to improve late Thursday afternoon, according to First Selectman Rudy Marconi. The problem, Verizon informed the first selectman, is the apparent severing of a fiber-optic cable serving a tower on Moses Mountain in Danbury. Mr. Marconi said Verizon service, and that of other carriers that piggy-back onto that Verizon tower, should improve with repair of the cable. “Sometime later this afternoon, hopefully,” he said, “restoration of Verizon service and anyone else — we don’t know who else — that’s on that tower.”
1: 04 — In addition to being open as a shelter the Rec Center has gym, swimming and bounce house open until 5 p.m.
12:52 — The Ridgefield Continuing Education office and computer lab has Internet access and Phone Charging Available. “We are open until 6 p.m. tonight (Nov. 1). We will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2. We are located in the Venus Building (old high school) at the corner of Governor Street and East Ridge. ” Use the entrance facing Governor Street and go to the 2nd (top) floor. Then turn right and go to the end of the hall.
12:48 — Fire department is getting a number of calls involving carbon monoxide in houses. For instance, late this morning, a generator was running inside a garage whose door was half open. CO was detected inside the house in dangerous amounts. At 12:45, there was another call for a person possibly affected by CO. Generators must be outside and away from the house to be operated safely.
12:28 — King Lane was reopened to traffic by town workers about 12:15 Thursday. High Ridge is passable to cars from end to end, although driving there does not look altogether safe since there are still trees and in one instance, a utility pole leaning and apparently held up by wires.
12 p.m. — A small armada of utility trucks was gathering at a staging center near the edge of the village late Thursday morning, and were expecting the arrival of a Northeast Utilities incident commander to dispatch them around town. There were at least 25 trucks, many bucket trucks but also pickups and some diggers and heavy equipment. Some were from Massachusetts, a Northeast Utilities stronghold which was not as hard hit as Connecticut. EC&I from Pittsfield, Mass. was there with eight trucks and 10 workers. Utility Services New England (USNE) of Westfield, Mass., brought three trucks and six workers. There were larger contingents from farther off. Midwest Power Inc. based in Battle Creek, Mich., brought about 20 trucks and crews, totaling about 60 workers from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kansas and even one from Florida. Miller Construction, power line contractors, out of Vincennes, Indiana, had 12 trucks and 14 men. One worker from Midwest Power asked to mention how much the workers appreciated the lady, a local citizen, who’d stopped by with coffee for everyone. He added that the line workers would appreciate that local people drive slowly and carefully, knowing crews be out on the roads, working, and also driving around finding their way to worksites on unfamiliar roads with more traffic than they’re accustomed to. “The men appreciate driving a little cautiously,” he said. “We’re from Michigan. We’ve got populace, but nothing like around here.”
11:24 — Pamby’s just got a shipment of gas and is open. Valero, BP on Danbury Road and Irving all have gas and are open as usual. Mobil has gas “for now.” Stateline has gas but can only take cash. Copps Hill Shell is out of gas.
11:03 — Tom Maloney reports spotting a caravan of about a dozen utility trucks from Michigan heading south on 35 at Haviland.
11:02 — Don’t forget, the Playhouse is offering free movies “to help alleviate the stress caused by Sandy”‘Madagascar’, 12:30 p.m.; ‘The Sandlot’, 4 p.m.; ‘Freaky Friday’, 6:45 p.m.
10:40 — CL&P crew on way to Route 35 by Cedar Lane to raise wire and reopen highway.
9:05 — Free shampoos and charger stations are available at Ciao Bella Salon, 7 Big Shop Lane, 203-431-2426.
9 — Calling it a “challenging target,” Connecticut Light & Power Senior Vice President Bill Quinlan said Thursday morning at a press briefing that he expects the utility complete “substantial restoration” in the state by Monday or Tuesday of next week. He said that means there will still be customers whose restorations will extend beyond that due to damage to individual services or other disruptions that could come along. There could also be homes that are too damaged in the state to be restored right now. But Mr. Quinlan stressed that the utility expects to have most of the work done to meet this estimate. He said he projects that by Tuesday there will only be 2% of customers in the state without service. “Restoration by Monday and Tuesday of next week is something the vast majority of our customers can plan on,” Mr. Quinlan said. “You can be assured we’re going to do everything to restore the quickest number of customers just as soon as we can and we will continue to provide updates as we progress through these next critical days.” Mr. Quinlan said that all of these projections are “the best estimate we have.” He said it was important to remember that estimates are non-specific in regard to which towns might get their service restored and when because of all the damage that has been suffered in Connecticut and because “we’re only two days from the event.” “I want to stress that this is only an estimate,” Mr. Quinlan said. “It is not a guarantee and I think our customers need to plan accordingly.” Mr. Quinlan added that making this estimate will take “an extraordinary level of coordination in the field” with additional resources coming in to have 2,000 linemen in the field. He said there are a lot of variables but said he was confident it could be done. “If we’re able to pull this off, in my view, this is among the best restorations you’ll see in the industry,” Mr. Quinlan said. —Ken Borsuk, Hersam Acorn Newspapers
8:30 — Taylor Lavati reports Peaceable Street IS open all the way from High Ridge to state line, and can be used as a bypass to Route 35, which is closed at Cedar Lane with wires pulled down by truck late yesterday afternoon. King Lane is still closed.
6:50 — Here is the official list of road closures as of yesterday afternoon, released by the town yesterday evening (note that Jack Sanders is really not the author of this document — he only posted it): PUBLICROADSTATUS OCT31 1545
6:30 — The Press will be in the mail Friday. Papers may be on newsstands by late this afternoon. Our printing plant in Trumbull still has no grid power, and is using a 940KW generator the size of a tractor trailer that consumes 20 gallons of diesel fuel an hour. But printing schedules are still behind because of down time during the storm.
6:10 a.m. — High Ridge is now open, at least between Catoonah and West Lane. However, many wires are down between Catoonah and King Lane.
6:05 — COMMUTERS WHO USE ROUTE 35 into New York: Route 35 (South Salem Road) is still closed at Cedar Lane after a truck took down low wires. However, West Lane is open all the way into Lewisboro, NY, and clear there to Route 123. Peaceable Street is also open as a bypass.
6 a.m. — Power to 40% of the town was restored by late Wednesday evening. That’s That’s 4,231 CL&P customers online, and 6,446 offline. Most of the areas of restoration are in the northern half of the town, such as the Danbury Road and Route 116 corridors. Main Street (Route 35) south of the village is still blacked out, as are the West Lane and Wilton Road West corridors. Catoonah Street in the center has no power.