Conn. utilities gear up for Sandy's fury

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October 26, 2012, 7:40 pm
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(NECN: Brian Burnell) - The last two storms to hit Connecticut were not handled well by the major utilities, and people were without power, with some for as long as two weeks.  

The Governor and the utilities want to make sure that doesn't happen if Sandy hits hard.

The blare of a horn is a sound people who live on the water in Milford, Conn. hope they don't hear.

After that comes evacuation. People here are boarding up in anticipation of the worst including 36-hours of rain and high winds. Several high tides during that period that could see waters rise to 7 feet over flood stage.

Jim Secondi was supposed to move into his rebuilt home this week, after Irene destroyed it a year ago.

"I thought this feeling was going to be the best feeling of my life, moving in this week. It could turn into the worst feeling of my life, but I'll know more Tuesday," Secondi says.

If evacuations do come, it's not up to state officials to make that call.

"Evacuation orders are local community responsibilities," Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy says. "They have to carry out those evacuations should they decide to call them."

Governor Malloy met with officials from the utility, cell phone and cable companies to get a sense of how they were making ready. There is not much they can do while the storm rages, but they failed for the most part in the aftermath of Irene.  

Conn. Light & Power is the largest utility in the state, and they're getting line crews from out of state in place early.

"We are seeking commitments for 2,000 linemen to be in state. We're targeting Sunday," says Bill Quinlan of CL&P.

They also working on getting 700 tree crews in as well, ready to go once the storm lets up. Cell towers have been upgraded in the hope that communication can be maintained.

"We've also added quick-connect connections to all of our cell sites to all of our generators," said John Emmra of AT&T. "In last year's two storms, we had to hard-wire every single generator to the cell site. That took in some cases hours and we've added these quick connections which are, in the vernacular, plug-and-play, so its much simpler to get those generators out there."

The state's Emergency Operations Center is housed here, at the Armoury in Hartford. The governor is doing a partial opening of the EOC Saturday morning at 8 o'clock.

Tags: connecticut, Brian Burnell, Sandy, Dannel Malloy, utilities, Connecticut Light and Power , weather stories, Hurricane Sandy
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