1.9 million still without power after storm; death toll hits 20
Repair crews across the Northeast were making progress Tuesday in restoring power cut by an unusually early snowstorm, but about 1.9 million people remained without electricity -- including almost half of Connecticut.
As of 8 a.m., the number of people without electricity was down from a peak of 2.4 million earlier in the week, a spokeswoman for the federal Department of Energy said in a telephone interview. The worst hit state was Connecticut, with about 757,000 customers without electricity, she said.
In all, more than 20 deaths have been reported in five Northeast states and one in Canada from the weekend storm that in some areas dumped up to 30 inches of wet, heavy snow. Many trees still had bright, autumn leaves when the snow hit, snapping limbs and taking down power lines.
Areas with large concentrations of people and trees, such as Connecticut, bore the brunt of the power outages, as it did when Tropical Storm Irene swept through the region two months ago.
At a morning briefing in Hartford, Jeff Butler, president of Connecticut Light & Power, the state’s major utility, told reporters that he hoped power could be restored soon to its four substations still without electricity. He said 486 line crews and 284 tree crews were at work.
A spokesman for the utility was not immediately available, but Butler told reporters at the briefing that he understood the frustration of the state's residents, many of whom have endured four nights without heat and light.
“I'd like to start off by addressing our customers, especially given the fact that two months ago many of these customers faced lengthy outages [and] are once again facing prolonged outages,” he said. “Certainly not only the frustration but the challenges of living without power are, especially as the weather changes ... significant. We recognize that.”
According to the Department of Energy spokeswoman, New Jersey, with about 388,000 people still without power, was second-hardest hit by the outages. But its numbers were sharply down from the nearly 700,000 once affected.
Massachusetts had 344,000 without power, followed by New York with 179,000, Pennsylvania with 167,000, New Hampshire with about 146,000, West Virginia with about 2,900, Maine with 2,200 and Maryland with about 1,400, the spokeswoman said.
Vermont and Rhode Island had service fully restored to the 7,500 and 20,000 customers, respectively, who lost power in the storm.
-- Michael Muskal
Photo: Snow covers cars parked at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., on Monday. Credit: Bettina Hansen / Pool