“This is an historic storm,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. “This is the largest number of power outages we have ever experienced.”
Malloy said the extent of the damage was “much more serious than Irene,” which cut power to 767,000 customers at its peak. The difference in this storm, said Jeffrey Butler, president and chief operating officer of Connecticut Light & Power, is that the snow and ice damaged 44 transmission lines, including 21 that have resulted in substations losing power.
The state Department of Transportation said that the storm knocked down five times as many trees as Irene.
Butler predicted “lengthy outages” of more than a week for about 15,000 trouble spots, although most customers will see power return in less than a week, he said. At 11 p.m. Sunday, 770,290 CL&P customers and 13,647 United Illuminating customers were without power.
United Illuminating, which serves 17 communities in the New Haven area, expects to restore power to all customers by Monday night, said spokesman Michael West. UI has 133 crews working.
Malloy said that restoring power to grocery stores and gas stations would be a priority. He has asked President Barack Obama to declare Connecticut a disaster area so that it can qualify for federal assistance. He said that the state’s application is being reviewed.
Utility company officials said that crews spent Sunday assessing the damage. Service was restored to about 125,000 power customers Sunday night, but with power outages of up to a week predicted, many towns closed schools for at least Monday and opened shelters.
CL&P has more than 300 crews working to restore power throughout the state, Butler said. It plans to add 450 crews from out of state, which are expected to arrive from the South and Midwest by Tuesday at the latest. UI said it will send its crews to help CL&P once they are finished restoring power to UI customers.
Frank Poirot, a CL&P spokesman, said that crews were determining the “extent of the damage.” Crews were also working to resolve emergencies, making areas with downed wires safe and helping town and state crews open roads, he said.
At least one death in Connecticut, in a traffic accident on Route 85 in Colchester, was attributed to the storm.