October 31, 2011 | last updated June 4, 2012 12:21 pm

CT resumes digging out from 'Alfred'

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy boarded a helicopter Monday for a bird's eye view of the state's damage from a freakish weekend snowstorm.

Editor's Note: Alfred is the correct storm name.

One day after the worst October snowstorm in New England history, Connecticut businesses are scrambling to help customers -- many of whom remain without power-- to try return to normalcy while assessing their own damages.

Monday morning traffic on most state highways and roads was lighter than usual as most schools and some businesses were closed due to the heavy volume of power outages and road blockages caused by downed power lines, trees and branches. Most state agencies and office buildings were open Monday.

Long lines spotted Sunday at several Hartford-area gas stations that had power continued Monday, along with traffic snarls they caused.

Stew Leonard's, on Berlin Turnpike in Newington, said it will be open Halloween until 6 p.m., despite running on a generator and offering only a supply of basics - bread, milk and water. Meantime, its stores in Norwalk and Danbury were fully operational Monday.

Many businesses open Sunday and Monday were accepting only cash for their products due to service interruptions for credit and debit cards.

Home Depot in West Hartford was packed Sunday with shoppers looking for snow shovels, road salt, firewood, among other things.

Automobile and foot traffic was heavy into any Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks coffee shop that could open on Sunday.

Area hotels and motels reported brisk occupancy as storm-displaced guests sought sanctuary overnight.

Webster Bank as of Monday has about 50 branches in Connecticut and central Massachusetts of its171 New England offices closed due to power outages, said spokesman Bob Guenther.

The Waterbury lender has "ambassadors" stationed at closed locations, directing customers to the nearest ones that are open, Guenther said. Webster staffers unable to work while their branches are dark are being paid, he said.

Connecticut Light & Power has about 748,000 customers -- about 59 percent of its 1.2 million customers -- still without electricity as of Monday morning.

Spokeswoman Kate Blint said the utility has more than 350 crews out working hand-in-hand with towns to identify critical service priorities. They are clearing roads and de-energizing downed lines so other crews can clear downed limbs and other debris.

CL&P also has requested for extra electricity-service crews from utilities as far away as California and British Columbia, Blint said.

Compared to Tropical Storm Irene which inundated the Northeast in early September, CL&P has sustained more significant damage to its transmission systems, especially from some power plants to its substations, she said. Those outages are affecting the northwest and north central parts of the state.

New Haven-based United Illuminating is reporting 8,774 outages in its southern Connecticut service area. The figure represents 2.8 percent of its customers.

The city of Hartford announced a temporary extension of operating hours at its transfer station at 280 Leibert Road to collect residents' storm debris only. The station will be open from 7 a.m. to dusk through Saturday.

Meantime, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was scheduled to do a helicopter flyover to assess firsthand the damage done to the state.

Also, Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. John Larson on Monday morning joined the mayors of East Hartford and West Hartford to personally survey damages in those towns.

Malloy said he has asked President Barack Obama to declare Connecticut an emergency, which would qualify residents and businesses for additional federal aid and assistance.

Reporters Brad Kane and John Lahtinen contributed to this report.


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