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Four Connecticut Counties Declared Disaster Areas As Outages Reduced

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) - Gov. Dan Malloy says four Connecticut counties that include the state's battered shoreline have been declared disaster areas by the federal government.

The governor learned about the declaration from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, on Tuesday evening. It comes a day after a massive, hybrid storm hit the state, causing large-scale flooding and knocking out power to thousands.

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Malloy said the declaration was made on an "expedited basis.'' He credited two conversations he had Tuesday with President Barack Obama.

Malloy said "getting this assistance will allow us to provide aid to our residents'' and help municipalities bear the financial expense of cleaning up from the storm.

The governor said he expects the state will eventually receive similar declarations for the rest of the state.

Connecticut's two major utilities are making progress restoring power to homes and businesses plunged into the dark by Superstorm Sandy.

More than 477,000 customers of Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating were without electricity on Wednesday morning, down from about 625,000 on Tuesday.

CL&P, the state's largest utility, says 342,986 customers were without power nearly two days after the storm hit the state. That's down from about 476,000 customers affected on Tuesday morning.

United Illuminating, which serves customers in shoreline towns hit by surging water from Long Island Sound, says 134,534 customers were without power on Wedndesday, down from 149,278 on Tuesday morning.

CL&P and UI have restored power to about one-fourth of customers. The two utilities are not saying when power will be fully restored.

Malloy says all Connecticut employees who have been off the job because of superstorm Sandy should return to work on Wednesday at their usual times.

Malloy's announcement Tuesday evening said state workers in areas affected by power outages or flooding should contact their agency for directions, including the status of their work facility and any alternate work assignments.

State workers can check the DESPP/DEMHS website or call 800-713-5000 for information.

Connecticut's elections chief will be speaking with local officials to assess how Superstorm Sandy may affect preparations for voting on Election Day next Tuesday.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says she'll speak with hundreds of local officials on a conference call on Wednesday. She says her office has been in contact with state and local emergency management officials since before the storm and with Connecticut's utilities in case polling places or town offices are without electricity.

Merrill says Connecticut law allows polling sites to be changed before an election if Democratic and Republican voter registrars agree to move or consolidate polling precincts.

Malloy has extended the in-person voter registration deadline to Thursday from Tuesday.

The Coast Guard says operations are resuming in the Port of Long Island Sound.

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port says operations were set to resume Tuesday afternoon. The port official says the agency worked with the maritime industry, Army Corps of Engineers and Connecticut and New York state agencies to minimize risk as the port returns to normal after Superstorm Sandy.

Mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution when moving throughout the port due to the possibility of debris and other hazards.

The Coast Guard also strongly advised recreational boaters and commercial traffic to consider any trip on Long Island Sound, including on local rivers and inlets.

Marinas may not be fully operating due to power outages.

Three multimillion-dollar homes in Greenwich have been destroyed in a fire that spread quickly during Superstorm Sandy.

The Greenwich Time reports that firefighters battled the blaze Monday night during winds of more than 80 mph and a storm surge. Fire Chief Peter Siecienski said the conditions forced firefighters to stand down after rescuing a dozen people from the residential neighborhood.

No deaths resulted. Siecienski says one firefighter was slightly injured.

Malloy, who visited the neighborhood near Long Island Sound on Tuesday, said it was the worst storm damage he has seen so far in his tour of areas around the state.

New Haven police say superstorm Sandy has revealed a skeleton beneath the town green that may have been there since colonial times.

Police spokesman David Hartman said a woman who was with other bystanders looking at a fallen oak tree called police Tuesday after she saw bones in the upturned roots.

Hartman said the tree was planted on the green in 1909 on the 100th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's birth. He said the remains likely belong to one of thousands of people buried there in colonial times. The remains will be evaluated by the state medical examiner.

Katie Carbo, who called police, told the New Haven Independent she saw something in the tree roots, and found the bones when she removed some dirt. She said the bones "should be given a proper burial.''

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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