Stories of hardship and heroism in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy abound. But few talk about the behind the scenes partnership that evolved in Ridgefield between local residents and the nearly 80 line crews and 30 tree crews that came from as far away as the Midwest to help clear roads and restore power.
Some who had worked seven days straight without a break said that the kind-hearted thanks from residents truly warmed their hearts.
“We love Ridgefield,” said one crewman from Western Massachusetts Electric. “Every morning one of the neighbors brings us hot coffee and something to eat. Someone else brought donuts and joe.”
Polite and appreciative are the words many of the crewmen reported as they continue to work at restoring power to the remaining few people who are still shivering and in the dark.
“We’ve heard incredible stories of people bringing crewmen sandwiches and coffee.” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi. “I think people are grateful for the efforts these crewmen make.”
The line and tree crews from Missouri, Canada, Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois dispensed by Connecticut Light & Power operate out of a staging area. Inside the mobile command center, which can be set up in just an hour, engineers sit long hours tracking the progress as field crews report in. Some have been at it for seven days, glued to computer screens in cramped quarters with no complaint.
A tent, large enough to act as a dining hall for 225 was set up behind the mobile command unit. After a long day in the field, crews came in to eat before travelling back to hotels, which are sometimes as far as an hour and a half away because of the demand for rooms.
The town worked together with CL&P to secure a central location that would be large enough to accommodate the massive equipment, poles, and bucket trucks needed for restoration. First Selectman Marconi asked CL&P to use local businesses and Jennifer Schilling, Director of Asset Management with Western Massachusetts Electric who set up the command post says they were only happy to do it.
“These people have lost a lot of business because of the storm. We are happy to use their businesses for food and our crews have not been disappointed. The dinners have been great,” said Schilling.
Some said Saturday night’s pizza was the best they’ve ever had. On Sunday, chefs gave up their day off to create a feast of eggplant parmesan, cannelloni, and roast beef.
Several linemen expressed gratitude for our residents in understanding this was an extraordinary event. With the devastation in places like Staten Island, the Rockaways and the Jersey shore, Ridgefield is fortunate. While the town has sustained considerable property damage, there has been no loss of life.
By the same token, Ridgefield residents say the crews are incredibly polite and while they didn’t have specific information on restoration nor could they deviate from their orders as they worked, they were friendly and appreciative.