‘It’s a mess in town’: Storm leaves most of Ridgefield without power

RIDGEFIELD — The chainsaws were out as soon as the rain and wind died down. Generators are chugging away, with many Ridgefield residents likely to spend long nights in the dark and days without electricity.

In the wake of tropical storm Isaias, 700,000 Connecticut residents were without power Wednesday morning, according to Eversource; about 19,000 of them were Ridgefielders.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi was not happy.

“It’s a mess in town, absolute mess,” Marconi said Wednesday. “We have about 200-plus incidents of trees and wires.”

Eversource, the electrical utility, was reporting Tuesday night that of its 10,989 customers in Ridgefield, there were some 7,674 (or 70 percent) without electricity.

By Wednesday morning, the number of homes and businesses reported to be without power had risen to 8,487.

“I believe Eversource has been overwhelmed,” Marconi said. “One report from Eversource is this is the second worst storm in terms of damage, that they’ve ever seen. And a restoration will be a while.”

Neighborhood efforts

“We figured why wait for the town? ” said Sean Morrison, who was out with his neighbor Bobby Kelly and other residents Tuesday evening, chainsawing fallen trees off Bennetts Farm Road.

Beth Peyser, the town’s inland wetlands agent, stood on Waters Edge Way looking at her house and the huge tree that had fallen on it.

“It was like Bigfoot stomped on the roof,” she said.

It didn’t appear to have broken through or seriously damaged the roof.

“I’m hoping it didn’t,” she said.

Marconi, meanwhile, is mustering resources for what looks to be a long townwide task of dealing with downed trees, getting Eversource to handle the wires, opening closed roads.

“Highway worked until about 6:30 or 7 last night, but couldn’t go any further. They opened all the roads they could that did not involve wires,” he said.

Marconi said some Eversource crews had been seen in town.

“We do know that there were spotty Eversource crews. I know there was one Route 7 and Ashbee Lane. Route 7 was closed in a couple of areas. I think they decided those as top priorities.”

Wednesday morning there was a lot to do.

“We still have Route 33 closed between Olmstead and St. John’s, due to a large tree and just a rat’s nest of wires. We have 33 closed at Bernard’s,” he said.

Marconi expressed anger at Eversource, and said he complained to the governor Tuesday night about the utility — but these are complaints he’s made before.

“They’re more interested in the bottom line than they are in the power lines,” he said. “That has become evident. And I think our State of Connecticut, PURA (Public Utilities Regulatory Authority) needs to take appropriate action next time there’s a rate increase. ... I’m infuriated that a corporation the size of Eversource seems to be declining, relative to customer services, especially in terms of emergencies and storms, as we are right now.”

Marconi said he has asked for an Eversource truck to be stationed in town and address any emegency situations that come up, but claims the utility refuses to do it.

“There’s absolutely no desire to create a better situation during these storms,” Marconi said, “and they need to be held responsible for once and for all.”

Marconi said the town’s emergency team would be looking at some other storm-related issues Wednesday and trying to come up with solutions.

“We’ll be working on creating water stations, both potable and non-potable water stations,” he said.

The Recreation Center and Yanity gym will remain closed for the time being, due to coronavirus concerns.