Week-plus outage estimates shocking in Greater Danbury

Hi everyone,

As thousands of Connecticut Light & Power customers in Greater Danbury enter their sixth day without power — my family in Newtown among them — I offer this glimpse into “Take on Life” headquarters here at The News-Times.

Earlier this week, I wrote a pitch for today’s column and put it in the computer system at work.

This is what it said: “Enough with the CL&P bashing. The cleanup after Hurricane Irene is far bigger than provincial politics. Remember, this was the biggest power outage in the history of the state. This cleanup and restoration is all about triage. Trust me, I’m not happy about being without power, either. I’ve been in the dark since 7:30 a.m. Sunday. But there’s nothing to be gained from tantrums and finger-pointing.”

That was Monday.

On Wednesday, I learned from CL&P that Newtown’s projected service restoration date was next Wednesday, Sept. 7. My immediate and mind-numbing reaction was, “Wait! What?”

For the record, the Newtown Area Work Center includes Newtown, Ridgefield, Danbury, Brookfield, Bethel and Monroe. If misery loves company, the address is the Newtown Area Work Center.

By Thursday afternoon — still seething over a possible 11-day power outage in the 21st century — I heard that some of my Newtown neighbors were told by CL&P their power would not be restored until Thursday, Sept. 8.

Twelve days!

That awful message — and the Sept. 8 restoration date — was the same in Brookfield.

Once again, I thought to myself, “Wait! What?”

Add these miserable restoration dates to enduring power outages in Danbury, Ridgefield, Brookfield and other local communities and the electrical carnage is complete.

Needless to say, my column pitch changed dramatically Thursday — 180 degrees dramatically — by the time I sat down to write at my computer.

So I borrowed a page — or at least, a tweet — from my Twitter account Wednesday: “@CTLightandPower Really? A week from today is your restoration date for Newtown? That’s the best you can do? #nothappyinnewtown”

To be honest, I’m actually OK with a week-long power outage in this case. I know this was an extraordinary storm.

I appreciate the massive scar left behind by Hurricane and then Tropical Storm Irene as it roared up the East Coast from North Carolina to Vermont, racking up $7 billion in damage along the way, according to many estimates.

I appreciate the fact that CL&P has made significant progress in its restoration efforts, although not necessarily so much around here.

But the moment CL&P pushed the envelope to a week-and-a-half without power, maybe longer, this became a competency issue in my book.

This was no longer an exercise in restoration, but rather, an exercise in futility.

To read more about the CL&P power outages in Greater Danbury, check out my “Take on Life” column Friday.

Exclusively in the print edition of The News-Times.

Brian Koonz