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AFTER SANDY: Monday





7 — Contrary to earlier reports, the state is NOT picking up brush from state highway roadsides in the wake of this storm, as they did during the last. There is no roadside brush pickup in town.

5:48 — First Selectman Rudy Marconi said Monday night is the last night the Rec Center shelter will be open before transitioning to a “warming shelter” Tuesday as most of the town now has power and most people have found places to stay. “We were considering a possible closure tonight but we have I think 11” in need of a warm place to stay, Mr. Marconi said. The building inspector has looked at 33 buildings that have been damaged to determine habitability, but only one has been considered unfit to occupy — the Old Sib Road house where two children were trapped during last week’s storm — Mr. Marconi said. Others, even with dramatic damage have been able to be lived in at least part of the house while isolating other areas, shutting off power to damaged parts. The Old Sib Road family displaced when a tree fell into their home in the height of the storm was brought to the hospital after a rescue complicated by many blocked roads. They have all since been released from the hospital, friends report.

5:06 — An outspoken critic of CL&P’s disaster response last year, Ridgefield’s first selectman was initially impressed with utility this time around. Not so some seven days after Sandy tore through town, forcing a third more than week-long recovery process. If the utility can’t significantly improve its restoration time after major storms, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said, it needs to get creative. He suggests offering generators to all CL&P customers for a monthly fee. While Mr. Marconi credits CL&P for embedding line crews with emergency responders before the storm struck to help respond to 911 calls, and for working quickly to get the Danbury Road corridor online quickly, he criticized what he sees as a third lackluster response from the utility that promised and publicized a bolstered ability to mitigate storm damage. “Our liaison was, I would say, an A+,” Mr. Marconi said doling out ‘grades’ for CL&P’s response Monday afternoon, referring to the CL&P employee who acts as a go-between for the company and town emergency officials. “Their initial response to embed an emergency crew for us… an A.” Mr. Marconi would have given CL&P higher marks if they had crews here for non-emergency calls throughout the storm as long as it was not considered to dangerous to be outside. “I think the preparation to bring crews into the area in advance was a C… that their public relations effort was a C- in advance of the storm because so many of us felt that were incorrectly informed.” Mr. Marconi said that CL&P switched from presenting their response in terms of number of crews in the state to number of workers in the state. He stopped short of saying that he and other municipal leaders from the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials (HVCEO) were intentionally misled. “Initially when we were told that we had 400 crews in Connecticut ready to respond to the storm…” he said. “It wasn’t crews; it was linemen.” In the past two storms, Mr. Marconi said, the figure he and other municipal leaders had been crews. Mr. Marconi said other HVCEO leaders felt they had been misinformed. To handle major storms like the last three, Mr. Marconi said the town needs 50 crews immediately to have an adequate response. This he said was based on the microbursts a few years ago that did serious but isolated damage in Ridgefield. Since the town was then able to get many crews, he said the response time was adequate. But after the last few storms, crews have trickled into town in the days after the storm, ultimately number over 100 as they are freed up from other areas. “We know we need … at least 50 crews in town” after a major storm, Mr. Marconi said. “If that doesn’t happen, what can you do to give your customers — your clients — a sense of satisfaction in being without power which is your product?” Mr. Marconi suggested a plan where CL&P offers customers a generator supplied and installed to handle a customer’s basic needs, like heat, hot water and some lighting, paid for with a monthly fee. “This company has to be more creative and think outside the box,” Mr. Marconi said.

5:06 — 97% of the town back online.

3:55 — Just 7% of the town was without power, 839 customers with no electricity while 9,848 have it, CL&P was reported at 3:20. And First Selectman Rudy Marconi’s afternoon message said “CL&P reports that 98+% restoration should be completed by this evening.”

3:15 — Schools are cancelled for Tuesday, but are expected to open Wednesday. “There were just too many locations with question marks relative to wires on the ground,” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi. School will be held Monday, Nov. 12, originally planned as a holiday to mark Veterans Day.

2:36 — The Monday Economic Development Commission meeting is cancelled.

2:25 — Tonight’s Conservation Commission meeting and Wednesday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting have both been canceled due to continuing storm clean up. Tonight’s Zoning Board of Appeals (see below) and Thursday night’s Police Commission meetings are both still on. The Police Commission is Thursday, Nov. 8, at 7 in the town hall annex off Prospect Street. The Board of Selectman has been rescheduled, for Nov. 28, although one e-mail went out saying it would be in two weeks, not three.

2:15 — A somewhat controversial seven-lot subdivision at 219 Bennetts Farm Road is scheduled discussed again at tonight’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, which has not been called off, according to board administrator Marjorie Tippet. The meeting, with three new and five continued appeals on its agenda, is at 7:30 in the town hall annex, off Prospect Street. The new appeals include the a storage shed at Ridgefield Workshop for the Performing Arts on Halpin Lane, a new house at 15 Tenth Lane, and a trellis structure on business property at 37 Ethan Allen Highway. “I don’t know if anyone else will go, but we’ll be there,” Ms. Tippet said.

1:50 — Absentee voting has kept folks busy today at the town hall. Between the storm and all the publicity about “early voting” in other states, some people are coming in, trying to vote early. They can’t. Absentee ballots are only for people who’ll be out of town election day during all the voting hours, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow, Nov. 6. “We don’t have early voting in Connecticut. Those are the laws,” Assistant Town Clerk Sandy Mosiello said. Absentee voting can be done in person at town hall today, but people have to affirm they’ll be out of town during voting hours. “They’re swearing to that on an affidavit,” Ms. Mosiello said.

11:12 — Irving, Copps Hill Shell and BP, Mobil, Pamby’s Valero and Stateline gas stations all reporting having gas. Stateline has no Internet, so it’s still cash only.

5:45 a.m. —Good morning. A total of 88% of Ridgefield’s power customers have been restored as of early this morning. That’s 9,374 CL&P customers with power and 1,303 without. Yesterday, 2,467 customers — nearly a quarter of the town — was put back online as around 100 crews worked in all sections of Ridgefield. Major restorations occurred at the Ridgefield Lakes, along the West Lane/Route 35 corridor (except west end of 35), in parts of the Peaceables, on Barrack Hill Road and its neighborhoods, some of Westmoreland, Old Branchville and Nod Hill, and parts of Farmingville. Areas still lacking power include Limekiln Road neighborhood,  parts of the Lakes, Minuteman Road area, Fulling Mill, and the Ridgefield Manor. A similar number of crews is due in town again today. (Commuters may have to allow extra time this morning and evening, as there will be many work crews out on the roads.) A half-dozen Fairfield County towns are worse-off than Ridgefield this morning. Weston has 36% without power; New Canaan, 34%; Wilton, 27%; Greenwich, 22% (6,300 customers); Darien, 22%; and Redding, 14%. There is no school today. All roads are believed to be open. Ridgefield’s cancelled Halloween will likely be celebrated sometime next weekend — details will be announced later in the week. The transfer station is open 7:30 to 5 daily, and spoiled food can be disposed of without charge. Brush may be dropped off, also free. The town reports it will not collect brush from residential areas.   Burning brush is not allowed without a burn permit from the fire department, 6 Catoonah Street. The temperature at 5:30 was 33 degrees. The forecast is for mostly sunny skies, with a high around 47 degrees.

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  • Miss Gooch

    In this week’s (11/8) Press there is an excellent letter written by Dr. Evan Levine.

  • Miss Gooch

    Here’s my 2nd attempt at posting. There is a great letter in the Press this week (11/8) by Dr. Evan Levine. He makes some great points as to how we can help minimize power losses in the future. Can we eliminate power losses entirely in the future? No, but there are things we can do to help mitigate a storm’s effect.

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