CANTERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) – One of the towns in Connecticut hit hardest by Tropical Storm Henri was the small, eastern town of Canterbury. Monday, Governor Ned Lamont toured the storm damage with the town leader.
Chris Lippke, the first selectman of Canterbury, said, “If you were the one without power you feel it, you know it, and you’re not happy about it.”
The first selectmen guided some of the federal delegation down a tree-lined Brooklyn Road.
Governor Lamont commented that he loved the beauty of it but it also means there is a lot of potential risks, too.
Powerlines were compromised, throwing half of the town’s 5,000 residents off the grid. Less than 24 hours later, utility crews from as far away as Texas were in bucket trucks fixing lines.
Compared to last year’s storm Isaias, the governor says he and the utility companies had more communication this time around.
“This time we had much better regional coordination, regional operations centers. Every utility had a liaison to the region or the town. That helped a lot,” Gov. Lamont explained.
With 70 miles of road and heavy tree canopy, the first selectman had been concentrating on tree trimming, telling News 8 last year alone they took down 1,000 trees that had been diseased by the gypsy moth and mold.
First Selectman Chris Lippke explained, “You take an oak tree that’s in somebody’s yard, it could be 60 feet tall. That could be 5,6,7 up to $8,000 or more to remove so maybe a program in place that could help people afford to take those trees down.”
US Senator Chris Murphy says the Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Package includes $1 billion for storm resiliency. His committee creates the budget for FEMA. He would like to see that increased by another billion.
“We are going to be looking at creative ways to make sure we qualify for an increased flow of federal resiliency dollars,” Sen. Murphy said.
“Let’s be clear,” added State Sen. Mae Flexer (D-Canterbury), “if the impact of this storm had been stronger, a community like Canterbury would be very far down on the list.”
The new Take Back Our Grid law allows those without power for at least three days to get a credit. $25 each day in the dark. If food and medicine are spoiled, it’s $250. A utility’s performance is all that matters now.
Governor Lamont acknowledged, “They have a lot of incentive to get it right and I think they did this time.”
It’s unclear whether all power has been restored.