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Connecticut Light & Power Hopes To Restore Most Outages By Sunday

DANBURY, Conn. (CBSNewYork) --The president and chief operating office for Connecticut Light and Power says the utility is "still shooting to have 99 percent of our customers restored sometime Sunday."

Jeff Butler made the comments at a news conference earlier Tuesday, saying that the company will do what they could to have power back as soon as possible, but that it has been a challenge.

"I know our customers are extremely frustrated.  Unlike [Hurricane] Irene, it is much more challenging -- it's cold at night and in some cases, it's beyond challenging, it's very difficult for our customers," he said. 

For three days, Danbury, a city of 85,000 people has been a landscape of broken trees, smashed homes and dead power lines.

"We've been [without power] since Saturday at 2 o'clock.  Nobodys been here. We try to get in contact with people, nobody will talk to us.  This is our taxes at work here.  We are forgotten," John Fidrentini told CBS 2's Lou Young.

For the first time since the freak October storm, subcontractors working for CL&P escorted public works trucks to the worst of Saturday's damage. But they weren't there to fix the lines.

"All I want to do is cut that tree and allow people to get out of here. They've been stuck here for two days," Antonio Iadarola, the Danbury Public Works Director said.

However, because of the power lines involved, Iadarola said "there're not going to to repair the line, they're just going to allow us to cut the tree, remove the lines and open up the road."

To see an estimated power restoration time by town in Connecticut, click here.

The city of Danbury has more than a hundred roads closed and nearly half its citizens -- 43 percent -- are living without electricity. People are trying to be patient, but it's getting old.

"I know everybody's in the same way, in the same trouble, but I'm hoping in the next couple days we'll have power," Leval Bellarvence said.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for federal aid in Connecticut as hundreds of thousands of customers in other parts of the state remain without power.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS' Terry Sheridan reports


Utility crews were working around the clock to restore power to about 653,000 people.

That number is down from the more than 830,000 customers who lost power following Saturday's snowstorm, breaking the record set in August by Tropical Storm Irene.

Mitch Gross, spokesman for Connecticut Light & Power, says they have crews from all over the country and from Canada working to restore power.

"We have them from as far away as British Columbia and California and those numbers of crews will continue to increase tomorrow and Thursday," he told 1010 WINS.

Gross says it could take a week or more to restore all the power.

"We know our customers are out there, we are fully committed to getting everyone back as soon as possible," he said. "We continue to make real good progress. We did overnight and we have over 800 line and trees crews working today, so we're pushing on."

LISTEN: WCBS 880's Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reports


Some town run utilities, such as the one from Wallingford, experienced far fewer outages percentage-wise since the utility strives to keep tree branches off the power lines, says Director of Public Utilities George Adair.

Adair said the tree trimming program in Wallingford is paying off.

"We believe we're doing the right things in terms of system maintenance, vegetation control," Adair said.

Just 16 percent of Wallingford Electric customers experienced outages in this latest storm and most of the power is expected to be restored within 24 hours.

An aggressive approach to tree trimming is something CL&P has been deliberating about, said utility President Jeff Butler. Burying lines underground is simply cost prohibited.

The massive outage has left thousands without the most basic necessities. Governor Dan Malloy says the state is doing everything it can to help, including opening up additional shelters Monday night.

Newtown Dept. Heads
Town department heads meet with CL&P representatives - Newtown, CT - Nov 1, 2011 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

The governor has also asked local fire departments to open their doors to the public so people can charge cell phones and laptops and take showers.

Meanwhile, schools in the hard hit town of Newtown are not expected to be back in session any time soon.

LISTEN: WCBS 880's Paul Murnane reports


School officials pushed for a Thursday opening, but in a meeting at Newtown's Emergency Operations Center with CL&P,  it became clear that another full week is lost.

"We brought it up early, right after Irene and we took away the February break," said Superintendent Janet Robinson "April break could be in jeopardy if we have additional snow days."

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau On The Situation In New Fairfield


The town of New Fairfield, hit especially hard by the storm, says it had no help from the state clearing its roads of trees and limbs.

First Selectman John Hodge says this presented a potentially dangerous situation the other night when firefighters could not respond to a house fire in town.

He says when they realized the roads were completely blocked, they took an innovative approach.

"They took out their own chain saws and, unbelievably, cut their way into the fire themselves, from main state roads to get the vehicles in there," Hodge told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

Hodge says New Fairfield is still 100 percent in the dark and says they'll be lucky to have power restored by Sunday.

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