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Salem officials' reaction to power restoration after Sandy generally positive

By Jeffrey A. Johnson

Publication: The Day

Published November 16. 2012 4:00AM

Salem - Town officials this week applauded the improved response of Connecticut Light & Power and its work to restore power outages in town caused by Superstorm Sandy.

Many here last year felt the town was neglected by CL&P after Tropical Storm Irene left many without power for about a week.

The response was much better this time around, First Selectman Kevin Lyden said. Town crews and the general preparedness of residents also were contributing factors, he said, even though CL&P reported the entire town was without power at one point.

"If you look on the news and see what's happening in New York and New Jersey, we were fortunate," Lyden said Tuesday at a Board of Selectmen meeting.

Former First Selectman Peter Sielman was one resident who expressed his displeasure with the CL&P response. Sielman detailed an incident in which he used a rope to move a wire off one portion of West Road because he felt it was an increasing danger to others.

He also said he witnessed instances of inefficiency where crews were standing by idly watching others work.

Public Works Director Donald Bourdeau explained that there is a long process line crews must go through to make sure it is safe to move wires. A former worker for SNET, Bourdeau said people should take caution and let the crews do the work. "I think most people were satisfied," he said. "All in all, it went pretty well."

Lyden explained during Sandy that in many cases the town is reliant on other towns in situations where it is without power. For instance, about 90 percent of the town's power is drawn from substations in East Lyme and Colchester. The other 10 percent comes from East Haddam.

The substation in the Flanders section of East Lyme caused two fires when power lines were re-energized after Sandy. That accounted for a brief delay in part of the town regaining power. "I know there was some frustration because the Flanders substation took awhile to come back," said Robyn McKenney, a selectman. "(But) there was a very positive feeling about the response in our town. I think we owe a debt of gratitude to our workers."

Lyden said there were no injuries reported during Sandy. He knew of two homes that were damaged by falling tree limbs.

jeff.johnson@theday.com

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