More than 1,000 West Hartford residents lost power at the peak of the storm, and trees and downed power lines blocked roads throughout town.
By Ronni Newton
Many West Hartford residents awoke Thursday morning to reports of downed trees and power lines – that is if they managed to sleep through a powerful storm that passed through the area with high winds and torrential rains, and at least one earth-shattering clap of thunder that sent whimpering dogs scurrying for cover.
The overnight storm knocked out power and created numerous detours for the morning commute to work or school, with road closures all over town. At what appeared to be the peak, 1,054 Eversource customers in West Hartford were without power.
According to NBC Connecticut, a wind gust of 68mph was reported overnight in Hartford.
Director of Public Works John Phillips said Thursday morning that despite the apparent severity of the storm, overall damage in West Hartford was relatively mild. Light debris littered roads throughout town, but the majority of tree damage occurred on private property he said.
“Hunter took the brunt with a total road closure,” Phillips said.
A large tree fell across Soby Drive right at the intersection with Hunter, bringing down the power lines with it. Also on Soby, West Hartford Fire Department officials said a large tree fell on a home creating a gaping hole in the roof but no structural damage resulted, they said.
A downed tree also blocked Hunter between Cedar Ledge and Beechtree Lane. The only way residents in certain parts of the neighborhood could get through was by using someone’s driveway for egress.
“We’re mostly at the mercy of Eversource to clear the trees of wires,” Phillips said. Although the power lines have been reportedly de-energized, for safety reasons Eversource is required to remove the lines from the trees before Public Works can do its clean-up work.
As of 9:45 a.m. Thursday, he did not have a timeframe for when Eversource would complete its work.
“Life safety and the safety of our workers is paramount,” Phillips said. “What we’ve learned over the past four or five years [cleaning up from major storms] is that no work can be done until we have been told they are safe to work on.”
Eversource spokesperson Mitch Gross said that damage across the state was extensive, and that the company is assessing damage and making repairs as quickly as they can.
Gross said that Eversource did not have an estimate for complete restoration, and would have that information later Thursday. All crews had been called in and were being assisted by contractors as well as crews from Massachusetts and New Hampshire that had been called in to help, Gross said.
“We remain very busy and will be working well into the night if not into tomorrow,” Gross said.
Eversource outages reached a peak at 3 a.m., Gross said, with 89,508 customers without power throughout the state. By 10 a.m. that number had dropped to 58,973.
West Hartford Fire Department Lt. David Walker said that there were no reported injuries from the storm. All five companies were out all night he said, and answered numerous calls for flooded basements.
Boulvard between Garfield and Castlewood was closed for several hours when a large tree landed on a house and took down power lines with it. There was little damage to the house, and no reported injuries.
South Main Street in the area of Hall Street was also closed to traffic due to wires in the road, as was Fern Street just east of North Quaker Lane.
Gross had this safety advice: “There are downed lines everywhere. If you see a downed line, never go near it or try to move it. Call 911 and Eversource and let us take care of it.”
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