August 11, 2020

Senator Abrams Tours Damage Caused by Tropical Storm Isaias in Cheshire with Governor Lamont, Congressman Blumenthal, District and Town Leaders

Senate Photo

State Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams (D- Meriden, Middlefield, Rockfall, Middletown, Cheshire) on Monday toured Cheshire with Governor Ned Lamont, U.S. Congressman Richard Blumenthal, and local town and state officials including State Representatives Liz Linehan (D-Cheshire), Craig Fishbein (R-Wallingford) and Lezlye Zupkus (R-Prospect), Cheshire Town Manager Sean Kimball, Cheshire Town Council Chairman Rob Oris and Cheshire Councilman Jim Jinks to view damage caused by Tropical Storm Isaias that still has yet to be fully cleaned up.

“I am thankful to the line crews that worked tirelessly over the last week to repair storm damage, and I am thankful to the many public works, utilities and town employees and officials, not to mention members of the community, who were able to mitigate the worst of the storm,” said Sen. Abrams. “In contrast, Eversource’s response and reaction to this storm, after past disasters saw the company pledge to improve its practices, were not only unacceptable but highly questionable. Those of us who remember the snowstorm of 2011 and Hurricanes Irene and Sandy know Eversource has a history of poor performance during local disasters. When United Illuminating was able to achieve substantial restoration almost half a week before Eversource, that means one company serving Connecticut knew Isaias would be as bad as it was, while the other was caught flat-footed. The people of Connecticut deserve answers to the many questions remaining, especially as more than 73,000 Eversource customers still lack power as of Monday afternoon.”

Touring local properties including a Cheshire home that saw severe damage from the storm’s high winds and toppled trees, with tree trunks and branches strewn across the property and the occupants still needing to run a generator nearly a week after Isaias departed, the officials decried the slow, unacceptable response to the storm from Eversource still leaving tens of thousands without power nearly a week after it departed while noting towns and the state, not to mention public works crews, were able to assist each other when facing the lack of urgency.

According to data provided by Town Manager Kimball, Cheshire’s police dispatch responded to 640 emergency 911 calls on Tuesday as the storm arrived and departed, the amount it normally receives in an entire month. For some time, Cheshire also handled 911 calls from Southington, Bristol and parts of Plainville, he said. The Fire Department responded to 113 calls for service while Public Works responded to more than 42 roads with trees on wires and 60 blocked roads in total, though many roads could not be reopened without wires being confirmed de-energized.

Cheshire’s fast response shows the resiliency that most Connecticut communities showed in light of the slowed response of Eversource. Within 24 hours, the town had a charging, cooling and WiFi center at Highland School used by more than 600 residents. Town officials including the police, fire, public works and human services departments and board of education helped keep the town’s people safe during the disaster, Kimball said.