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Power companies plan for storm response


WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Many of us are watching the path of tropical storm Hermine, but local power companies are keeping an especially close eye on the storm so they know where their crews will be needed.

As for today, the morning light was the only thing flooding the West Haven beach. The worry is, by Sunday afternoon there could be Long Island Sound flooding the shoreline, and Hermine’s winds could bring down trees onto power lines. Fortunately, shoreline residents know what to do.

“We can run the generator and a couple lights, and maybe the TV for a while so yeah, we do okay,” said West Haven resident Barbara McGill as she strolled on the boardwalk.Related: Hermine moves inland, Tropical Storm Watch issued for Connecticut

It’s been just over five years since Tropical Storm Irene hit Connecticut. In the days after, people were so desperate for electricity, they lined up for hours when shipments of generators came in.

“We have a generator, yes,” said Pat Madigan of West Haven. When did she get it? “After Irene, I think. Before Sandy, after Irene.”

Irene, Sandy, and the freak October snowstorm also changed how the power companies prepare for storms. Just this week, United Illuminating met with emergency planners from all 17 towns it serves at a country club in Orange..

“To be able to work through the plan so that we’ve got a good process and plan in place when storms come,” explained United Illuminating Vice President Anthony Marone. “There’s a lot that’s happened in the last five years that we’ve been working through.”Related: Coast Guard urging boaters to take proper safety during holiday weekend

Their three point plan is to make their system as resilient as possible, integrate with the towns and their processes, and better communicate with customers. To better prepare for the height of the storm season, they brought in Storm Team 8 chief meteorologist Gill Simmons for a forecast.

“You know, our interaction with the local media with respect to weather is critical, because we’re all paying attention to that,” Marone said.

Right now, all any of us can do is watch the forecast and be prepared.

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