Avon town officials have been very vocal the past few days to Connecticut Light & Power, legislators and the media about the need to have more line crew in Avon and it has paid off.
By 1:53 a.m. Sunday, before Daylight Savings Time, the percentage of residents without power in Avon dropped significantly to 25 percent, in comparison to 60 percent throughout most of Saturday. Yet that number jumped up again to 40 percent around 9 a.m., meaning 3,477 residents are still in the dark. Power has been restored to Avon High School, along with most of the West Avon corridor from Scoville Road to Route 44.
Town officials said Saturday that crews were working on Lovely Street (Route 177) and Waterville Road (Route 10). Waterville, from Avonwood Road to Route 44, has power, as do Old Farms Road from Arch Road to Route 44, and Arch Road from Old Farms Road to Haber Drive. Huckleberry Hill Road has been restored, along with most of the sidestreets. CL&P had told the town that power would be restored to Lovely Street by the end of the day Saturday and some Lovely Street readers reported early Sunday that they had power again.
On Saturday, there were 20 line crews and 11 tree crews working in town, in comparison to eight and four, respectively the day before. Town Council Chairman Mark Zacchio, who participated in a press conference with the town of Farmington Thursday to express concerns, said that CL&P told the town there will be 25 line crews and 15 tree crews.
"We voiced our concerns for the safety aspects, our roads not being open," Zacchio said. "With 20 folks on our crew, they've done a phenomenal job doing what they could do in terms of getting to the largest pieces of debris to get around with out the wires wrapped up into it, but without CL&P there, we certainly have a number of neighborhoods trapped, including my own. I spent two days cutting myself out in order to get folks to the shelters."
As of Saturday, the following roads required CL&P line crews to make them passable for emergency personnel, including Bayberry Hill Road, Pine Hill Road, Red Mountain Lane, Thompson Road and Wright Drive. Members of the National Guard were helping to clear trees. Many roads have been impassable to emergency vehicles throughout the week, raising safety concerns, Zacchio said.
Northeast Utilities, CL&P's parent company, is now overseeing the power restoration process, still sticking to the goal of turning the power back on for 99 percent of the state by Sunday at 11:59 p.m. The one percent will not be concentrated in one place, but scattered statewide.
State Rep. Tim Legeyt (R-17) spoke with Tom Dorsky, legislative liaison for Northeast Utilities Friday and said that Avon, West Hartford and Farmington have become a focus for the power company.
“He wasnted me to know that in his 30 years of working in the utility industry he has never seen damage like he’s seen in Avon, West Hartford and Farmington," Legeyt said.
By Saturday, Dorsky told Legeyt, Northeast Utilities hopes to restore power to at least 20 percent more of customers, bringing the total outage percentage down to 45 percent.
"In an emergency, it’s always difficult to make the game plan turn out exactly how you want it to," Legeyt said, noting that the damage from the October snowstorm was more involved because of the heavy snow and leaves on the trees. "Emergency means a constantly changing situation."
CL&P also recently started hiring contractors to work on electrical meters damaged during the storm so that crews can restore power to those homes when they come to the neighborhood, Legeyt said. The power company previously was leaving it up to the home owner to hire electricians for repairs.
Yet, there have been more roadblocks than trees.
Crews, who are coming from all over the country, have run into challenges, from finding available hotel accommodations to braving the New England weather and adjusting to the windy roads, which makes fixing the powerlines more difficult than on straight roads. The line and tree crews are sent to different locations every day, and before each assignment they have to attend a safety briefing to get them all on the same page.
On top of that, many crews are driving from as far as California to come to Connecticut, and 200 are slated to arrive in Connecticut Saturday.
There also have been communication bumps between town officials and CL&P at times, including differences in priorities for where power came on first.
"Our initial priority was West Avon Road because of the shelter. CL&P overrode us on that, Robertson said Thursday. "They wanted Waterville because of that [Farmington] substation because Farmington doesn't have any power."
Many area residents questioned why the National Guard hadn't been brought in to help and on Friday National Guards, traveling in a Military Police truck, were clearing trees on Winding Lane road. Governor Dannel P. Malloy stopped by to see the damage and check in with them.
Robertson also said the town asked the Military Department if the could help and was shot down. The military department reconsidered and the horse guards have been helping distribute MREs and water to residents at the Department of Public Works building on Arch Road. They will do so again Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.
Although progress was made, there is question about whether there is enough time to restore power to the entire town by Sunday.
"I think that's ridiculous," Robertson said Thursday. "We'll see. I hope I'm pleasantly surprised. I can't imagine. And I think they'll be reassessing their self-imposed deadline and you'll probably see that pushing out."
Daylight Savings Time has now gone into effect, pushing the clock back an hour, meaning CL&P has an extra hour to meet their 11:59 p.m. deadline.
Editor's Note: This article was last updated at 1:06 a.m. on Nov. 6. While Avon Patch was originally told Waterville Road and Lovely Street had power, town officials clarified Saturday that crews are working on those roads Saturday. CL&P told the town that power should be restored to Lovely Street and the western part of Farmington Woods by the end of Saturday and some readers confirmed this was the case late Saturday into Sunday. Also, the original version of this article said that Lovely Street was Route 167, when it actually is Route 177. This typo has been corrected.