As juice returns, shelters closing

By SUSAN CORICA
and BRENDA MAGUIRE
Staff Writers

Roads are open, emergency shelters are closing, and more and more houses can be seen with lights. Plainville, Plymouth and Southington had the percentage of Connecticut Light & Power customers without electricity narrowed down to below 20 percent as of Friday afternoon.

“It started off really rough but I think we finally turned a corner” with CL&P, Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback said. “We were being asked to provide a lot of information and getting none in return.”

He said town officials had to complain to U.S. Rep. John Larson and Gov. Dannel Malloy that they weren’t getting adequate service from the utility.

The Calendar House senior center closed as the town’s emergency shelter Friday night after serving dinner, he said. “We’ve made other arrangements through community services for that handful of folks that still need help.”

Residents this week huddled around a map posted on the wall at the shelter established at Plainville High School.

The map, at one point largely blank, has slowly been colored in street by street as Plainville neighborhoods regain power in the aftermath of last weekend’s storm.

People at the shelter smiled each time a street was colored in, even if it wasn’t their own.

“They could see the progress being made,” Town Manager Robert E. Lee said.

Residents still in the shelter Friday can expect to see the map colored in completely by the end of the weekend as Connecticut Light & Power predicts power will be restored statewide by Sunday at midnight.

As more Central Connecticut residents head back to illuminated homes, demand is easing at area shelters.

Lee, the Plainville town manager, expects the town shelter will be closing by Sunday, unless power is not restored as quickly as expected.

“We feel pretty confident that we’ll be at that level,” he said Friday.

Plymouth is in good shape now, according to Anthony Orsini, the town’s emergency management director.

The town’s emergency shelter at Eli Terry Jr. Middle School on North Main Street will stay open through the weekend, Orsini said. “At our highest we had about 50 people staying at the shelter, and (Thursday) night we had about 10 or 12.”

“In the beginning of the week we had up to 300 people come through for a place to get warm, get a cup of coffee, have breakfast or lunch, or just to come in and chat with their friends and neighbors,” he continued, adding that many of them ended up volunteering at the shelter.

Southington will be arranging for pickup of storm-related debris, once President Barack Obama declares Connecticut a major disaster area, which is expected to be soon, the town manager said. Once that happens, the town will be eligible for 75 percent reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brumback said.

The situation has been frustrating, Brumback said, “but we’re making progress and we’re trying to look at the bright side. There has been an extraordinary response by the entire community, from the YMCA opening up to offer showers to several of the area restaurants providing food for our shelter.”

“This has brought out the very best of the Southington community, and we’re very proud of them,” he added.

Plymouth’s Orsini was concerned about overnight temperatures dropping below freezing. “We’re finding in some cases people don’t want to go to a shelter, but I just don’t want anyone to put themselves in a situation where it’s going to be dangerous,” he said.

Orsini, who is also the Terryville Fire Department’s health and safety officer, encouraged people to check on their neighbors to make sure everyone is safe. He also reminded people that generators and heat sources like cooking grills must be kept outside at least 10 feet away from dwellings.

Since the storm last Saturday, “We’ve had about 35 carbon monoxide incidents in town and four required people to go to the hospital,” he said.

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