Long wait for power restoration draws the ire of residents

When a severe storm hits many areas around the state, restoring power takes time. But people don’t like being without electricity for days.

“The normal response as emergency management is that we will be close to 72 hours before we see any crews from outside our area begin to show up to assist with power restoration,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said.

“We can always ask for more line crews and tree crews and a quicker response. There are many people in our community that feel the response we do get is woefully inadequate. I understand that point and have worked for many years trying to change it — to no avail,” he said.

“I probably had eight to 10 complaints of people who feel that this outage is absolutely unacceptable, that they should have their power back much more quickly, and demand that something be done to expedite the response during storms like this.”

Towing incident

Among the complaints Marconi got was one from Frederick and Lynda Walker of Old Sib Road, who objected to having their son’s car towed — with a $150 fee — after he parked on Rock Road because he couldn’t get through to park at home. 

“I understand that the car had to be moved in order for the tree crews to clear the road,” she said, wondering by a policeman had the car towed and left a tow notice in their mailbox, rather than walking to their front door and asking that the car be moved.

“This action would have cleared the problem faster and would have avoided a $150 towing charge and the aggravation of recovering this car — our only means of transport — during this period of disaster recovery,” she wrote.

A police incident report says an officer tried to contact the Walkers after being “advised town highway needs the vehicle moved in order to clean up storm damage in the area of Old Sib Road and Rock Road.”

The police dispatch desk had “advised that they had attempted to contract via phone, with negative contact,” the officer said. “Upon my arrival I attempted to make contact with Mr. Walker … with negative contact. It should be noted that the house was dark and appeared that no one was home. I determined that the vehicle would impede the ability of Town Highway and Eversource tree crews to clean up.”

Lynda Walker told The Press that in addition to the towing, the family faced $6,000 in tree removal costs and “extensive roof damage” that will “have to be re-done.”

They were out of power until Sunday, May 20.

“What the officer did was add salt to the wound,” she said. “People need to have compassion. He showed zero. Our son’s car was our only means of getting into town.”

Marconi said the priority of town personnel on the scene was to enable the Eversource crews to start working and get power restored.

“Her concern is more with the police officer, and he could at least have knocked on the door and asked her to move the car,” he said.

Marconi added that he asked her for the bill and said the town would pay the towing.

“Someone dropped the bill off at my office,” he said.

“It’ll be part of the storm cost.”