Borough pushes school back again, Region 16 set to go

Due to power outages, the borough school system has pushed the first day of school back to Sept. 6. FILE PHOTO

With power outages still rampant locally and across the state, the first day of school in Naugatuck for public and parochial students has been delayed until Sept. 6.

This afternoon, the Naugatuck school system issued an e-mail notice announcing the change. The notice stated all teachers and staff will report for professional development tomorrow, and only administrators and 12-month secretaries will be required to report on Friday.

Naugatuck Superintendent of Schools John Tindall-Gibson could not be reached for comment as of this post.

As of 3 p.m. today, Western, Hoprook, and Hillside schools were still without power.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience but at this time we still do not know when power will be restored to the three schools. We are aware that many homes do not have power as well causing mounting difficulties for families. It is everyone’s best interest to postpone the opening of school until Tuesday, Sept. 6.,” the notice read.

As of this afternoon, Connecticut Light & Power reported that 3222 or 22 percent of its customers in Naugatuck were still without power.

The effects of Hurricane Irene left a record number of people without power in the state, and the restoration process has been a slow one as CL&P crews focused on clearing fallen trees and braches before turning their attention to restoring power.

Earlier today, Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo announced on his facebook page that four CL&P crews were working to restore power in Naugatuck. It is unknown exactly when full power restoration will occur in the borough.

City Hill Middle School in Naugatuck will be open until 4 p.m. today for residents who want to get drinking water or take showers. Borough residents who need water for utility purposes, and not for drinking, can get some at the fire department. Residents are asked to bring their own containers for the water.

As of this afternoon, CL&P reported that 429 or 16 percent of its customers in Beacon Falls were still without power, and 171 or 4 percent of its customers in Prospect were still in the dark.

Despite the remaining power outages in Beacon Falls and Prospect, Region 16 is on schedule for its first day of school tomorrow. According to the district’s website, power was restored to all school buildings in the region as of Aug. 30.

As people grow impatience of waiting for their lights to turn back on, more utility crews are arriving daily to help CL & P and United Illuminating restore power to customers.

The heads of UI and CL&P reported Tuesday that good progress is being made, but they acknowledged customers in many parts of the state remain without power.

“The restoration is going relatively well. We know we have a lot more work to do, and it is going to get a little slower,” said James Torgerson, president of UIL Holdings Corp, the parent company of UI.

The two executives and Gov. Dannel Malloy briefed the news media on the restoration effort Tuesday afternoon after Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy S. Wyman returned from inspecting damage in six towns.

“Let’s be very clear: Our No. 1 concern and the No. 1 concern of our citizens is electric power,” Malloy said.

He said he will continue to press the utilities to bring as many out-of-state crews to help restore power here.

CL&P President Jeffrey Butler said his utility had returned power to 461,000 customers at that time, and, with crews working through the night, he expected the number without power to decline to 300,000 this morning.

CL&P is expecting to fully restore power no later than next Wednesday. CL&P President Jeffrey Butler said CL&P anticipates less than 100,000 customers will be without power Saturday night.

“Our focus is to get every last customer back in power,” he said.

Butler said CL&P has 900 line and tree crews working, and the number is expected to increase to 1,200 come Friday. Each crew generally has two people.

CL&P has never had as many crews working to restore power in its history, Butler said.

He said the utility has established work centers in Cheshire and Torrington that are serving 26 communities between them.

“In those areas, we expect 99 percent of the customers to be fully restored by midnight on Thursday,” Butler said.

Torgerson said about 158,000 UI customers were without power. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the number had declined to 77,000, he said. The utility expects that number to drop to 10,000 by end of the weekend.

“We are looking to really reduce it over the next few days, Torgerson said.

He reported that UI has 240 crews working to restore power to its customers and more are arriving. He said normally UI has 60 crews.

“We always want more and we have got requests out for more crews to accelerate the process,” Torgerson said.

As more crews arrive from out of state, CL&P and UI expect that restoration of power will happen faster than the schedules that they projected Tuesday.

Malloy said the state government is also trying to help recruit crews. He said the federal government is dispatching 500 crews to New England states. He did not know how many are destined for Connecticut.

“We are working to get every asset to the state possible to address the power situation,” Malloy said.

The governor said he is also trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Administration to expedite Connecticut’s request for disaster relief funds. In doing so, Malloy said he is asking FEMA to be mindful of the state’s high property costs and high numbers of insured properties.