As tensions remain high among residents, some of whom are starting their seventh day without power, Connecticut Light & Power announced it will donate $1 million to the Connecticut chapter of the American Red Cross.
“We want to work with our customers to help them with their full restoration following this event,” Chief Operating Officer Jeff Butler said in a press conference Saturday morning. “Through Northeast Utilities Foundation, we are making available to all of Connecticut one million to assist people in getting their lives back to normal.”
The money will go to the American Red Cross to aid people affected by Tropical Storm Irene, Butler said. The company also will waive late-payment fees and work with customers whose homes were devastated by the storm on “flexible payment options,” he said.
About 94 percent of CL&P's customers have power restored to their homes, with 81,600 left in the dark as of Saturday morning, according to the company. Utility crews working across the state Saturday number 1,734, which is six times the normal work force, Butler said.
“We’re working 24 hours a day until all customers are restored,” he said.
Addressing criticism by some residents who say they do not see the utility activity in their town, Butler said two shifts of crews work roughly 16-hour shifts with 75 percent starting their day at 7 a.m. and then 25 percent of the crews coming in at 3 p.m.
Some of the repairs are taking longer than the company had anticipated and stretch across multiple days because they are extensive, he said.
Even with the number of outages reduced to about 6 percent of customers in the state, the effort is still more widespread and in some cases requires a rebuild of some systems, Butler said.
“You cannot compare it to a storm that came in fresh,” he said.
The restoration projections remain unchanged, with 99 percent of customers expected to have electricity by end of the long weekend and the rest completely restored by Wednesday, Butler said.