A few days without electricity really makes you realize how much we have come to depend on electrical power to provide the amenities that define modern life. We were fortunate not to have any damage from hurricane / tropical storm Irene, unlike so many of our neighbors.
I was assigned to document some of the restoration work for Connecticut Light & Power in the Waterford area a few days after Irene hit. Even though some of the more direct residential damage was visible further down the coastline in East Haven, the area around New London saw extensive outages due to trees and limbs falling on power lines and homes. Tree crews were necessary in many spots to clear away dangerous situations before actual electrical crews could work on the wires.
With so much damage in so many spots, it seemed like a daunting task. The temporary Emergency Operations Center for CL&P at the Waterford Speedbowl, one of several in the state, looked like a beehive of activity with command trailers, equipment and tents to feed and organize the army of line workers from as far away as Colorado.
Because I had to wear bright reflective safety gear and hardhat, I was constantly mistaken for a utility person and approached by numerous residents looking for any information about when they might get the power back. Of course I had no information – all I could say is that crews were working on the area, and that at least seemed to reassure them that repairs were underway.
Prior to Irene’s arrival, her path seemed to be heading for Connecticut, so I thought it would be a good idea for Joanne and the dogs to head to Vermont to keep an eye on our place and be safe! I’m taking a lot of ribbing for that. Thankfully, we suffered no damage because we are on top of a hill. Joanne wasn’t aware of the devastation around her because she was without power and only realized the situation when she started talking to neighbors. Due to the heavy rains, more than 15 inches in some spots, most rivers and brooks overflowed their banks causing tremendous damage to roads and beautiful quaint, historic towns.
Joanne was stranded for a few days by washed out roads and was finally able to make it home with a few detours. When we got our power back, we were finally able to get some visual news about what had happened in Vermont and elsewhere. Our minor inconveniences paled in comparison to how many people had their lives upended.