Gov. Dannel P. Malloy held a press conference Saturday evening to announce that he had declared a state of emergency and warn Connecticut residents that they should expect to be without power “for a prolonged period of time” due to the rare October snowstorm that is currently pummeling the state.
“The storm has a number of additional hours to run its course, and obviously it has created extremely dangerous circumstances,” Malloy said at the state’s Emergency Operations Center at the State Armory in Hartford. “…Travel is obviously dangerous. We would like people to stay off the roads as much as possible.”
Malloy said that Connecticut Light & Power, the state’s largest electrical provider, was reporting approximately 419,000 customers without power, and that United Illuminating was reporting approximately 17,000 without power. He said that power outages could reach upwards of 550,000 during the storm, which is forecasted to continue through Sunday morning, and that residents without power or who may still lose it during the storm should not expect it to return quickly.
“If you are without power, you should expect to be without power for a prolonged period of time,” Malloy said, noting that the current number of Connecticut residents without power exceeded the total number of power outages caused by Hurricane Gloria in the 1980s.
He said that both CL&P and UI both have line crews out working during the storm, but stressed that the crews primarily function is to deal with dangerous or unsafe conditions, such as downed or live wires that could cause fires or injuries. Malloy said restoration work would not occur until the potentially dangerous conditions caused by the storm had passed.
“We are not in restoration right now. I want to be very clear,” Malloy said. “I don’t want anyone to be operating with beliefs that we’re in restoration. We’re not. We won’t be until it’s safer.”
Malloy said there was one reported fatality thus far due to the storm, a motorist along Route 85 in Colchester, and that one Connecticut State Trooper had also suffered injuries during the storm, but that they were not serious.
Malloy said he thought the state was well prepared to handle the freak October snowstorm and that there were currently 600 state vehicles out clearing roadways, and an additional 40 contracted vehicles assisting, but that many Connecticut residents might not have heeded the warnings or believed the storm would be as severe as it was. He urged residents to stay home and stay off the roads until the storm passed.
Malloy said that Bradley International Airport was still open and that 23 planes so far had been diverted there. The record for diverted planes at Bradley is 27, he said.
The state of emergency and widespread power outages come just two months after more than 800,000 state residents lost power during Tropical Storm Irene. It took more than a week for power to be restored to the entire state.
When asked, Malloy said he did not know how long restoration efforts could take this time around
“It is impossible to tell,” he said. “…There are an extremely high number of outages.”
Malloy said he planned to make representatives from both CL&P and UI available tomorrow morning to provide an update. According to CL&P's website, approximately 512,102 of the company's 1,237,830 customers, or 41 percent, were without power at approximately 8:20 p.m. Saturday. CL&P's full outage map can be viewed here.