2 dead, dozens of homes lost, but ‘it could have been worse’

A beach house in East Haven, Conn., was among shoreline homes lost to raging surf. Flooding rivers also ruined property. A beach house in East Haven, Conn., was among shoreline homes lost to raging surf. Flooding rivers also ruined property. (Jessica Hill/Associated Press)
By John Christoffersen
Associated Press / August 30, 2011

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NEW HAVEN - For the second day in a row, Patricia Dillon sat in the dark yesterday at her residence for the disabled and elderly, worrying how she will keep her insulin cold without electricity.

The diabetic, 52, who had no power because of a failed generator, was among hundreds of thousands of people in Connecticut facing outages potentially lasting days, a week or even longer in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

“I’m very tired, stressed out, aggravated, scared,’’ Dillon said, her voice cracking. “I have no power in my wheelchair.’’ Dillon also said her sugar level is “all over the place.’’

The storm, which hit Connecticut Sunday with 60-mile-per-hour winds and drenching rain, destroyed dozens of homes along the shoreline, damaged crops, and was blamed for two deaths in the state. It also knocked out power to more than 750,000 homes and businesses, and utilities said customers should not expect the lights to come back on anytime soon.

Dillon, who lives at the Island View home in Milford, said she was worried her insulin would not work if wasn’t kept cool and she could go into diabetic shock. Yesterday she sent somebody out for ice for her insulin.

Anthony Vasiliou, executive director of the Milford Redevelopment and Housing Partnership, a nonprofit that runs the 110-unit apartment building, said he was working with a contractor and the city’s emergency operations center to have power restored as quickly as possible. He said he had sent somebody to get a part in Hartford to fix the generator and had called the Red Cross to help the residents.

Crews from as far away as Colorado were coming to Connecticut yesterday to help with power restoration efforts.

Connecticut Light & Power reported just over 572,000 outages by yesterday afternoon. The smaller United Illuminating Co. had 102,000 outages in its coverage area, which includes New Haven and Bridgeport.

On a helicopter tour of the state, Governor Dannel P. Malloy saw ruined homes along the shoreline and flooded fields along Connecticut’s rivers. At a news briefing, he said he was struck most by the damage in Simsbury and other areas along the Farmington River, where he saw many farm buildings swamped with water. “Clearly this could have been worse, but it was pretty bad out there,’’ Malloy said.