Town officials slam Eversource response to storms, again

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Another damaging storm in Redding; another lackluster response from Eversource, Redding officials said this week.

“No, we were not happy with their response,” First Selectman Julia Pemberton said in reference to the Wednesday, Feb. 24 thunderstorm that left powerlines and trees down across the town.

“What we expected, what resources we were led to believe we would have before the storm hit” did not come through, Pemberton said. “There was a gap between what we believed was available and what Eversource is actually putting in place.”

“They assigned just one crew to Redding,” she said. “One tree crew and one line crew until Saturday when we had an influx of trucks.”

Dozens of Redding residents were still without power three days after the thunderstorm hit, and between Thursday and Friday only one make-safe crew was working in town, Pemberton said.

It wasn’t until Saturday that a larger number of trucks — from Canada, interestingly — were dispatched and began working in Redding.

A lack of accurate information sent out by Eversource compounded problems.

“They send out briefings and tell us they are prepared to a certain level. They tell us it’s a five-level storm, but what’s a five on their scale? What’s a level five compared to a level one?,” Pemberton asked.

“They don’t tell you anything, that’s really it. They can’t tell you anything before hand. We have a liaison assigned to us and he’s very responsive, but he’s only able to share the information he’s given. And we’re seeing the town only getting one team, a tree and line crew, and you’ve got  25% of the town out.”

Outage tickets

There was also a significant problem with Eversource’s outage reporting system, Police Chief Douglas Fuchs said.

Anytime someone calls to report an outage, Fuchs said, Eversource creates a problem ticket and adds it to a list of tickets to be resolved.

“There were tickets that had been resolved by Eversource where we knew, for a fact, that power had not been restored to those homes,” he said in his office Tuesday.

What’s next?

Pemberton says she’s planning on bringing up Eversource’s lackluster responses as an agenda item at the next Western Connecticut Council of Governments meeting, which brings together ‘CEOs’ from area towns that were also affected, like Bethel and Ridgefield.

“This is really a problem at the corporate level. It’s about money and allocation of resources and preparedness. This storm was relatively minor. There wasn’t two feet of snow, and it wasn’t a natural disaster, but at the same time temperatures were below freezing. Eversource needs to be prepared for these storms so we have some trust they’ll be prepared for the next Superstorm Sandy.”

Too many alerts?

If residents feel they were receiving too many email, text or phone alerts from Redding town officials last week, Police Chief Fuchs said there is an easy solution.

An alert sent out at any given time will always go to one’s home phone number first before it is sent out as a text, or email. So long as residents pick up the phone and follow instructions to confirm they received the message, they shouldn’t have any problem with repetitive alerts.

Eversource response

 

Eversource sent the following response in reply to a request for comment on their response to the Feb. 24 storm.

“We understand the concerns of community leaders in Redding. Last week’s storm caused significant damage, not only in Redding but in most of the communities we serve. This included numerous blocked roads and broken utility poles as well as miles of downed lines. We had more than 800 line and tree crews working round the clock to repair the damage and restore power around the state, including Fairfield County. It’s important to note that we work closely with leaders in all of the communities we serve, we value those relationships and are always examining and fine tuning our processes for future storm response.”

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