NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Many New Canaan homes and businesses were without power on Wednesday after underground power wires burned early in the afternoon. As of 6 p.m., about 300 customers were still out of power. Emergency Management Director Michael Handler said all customers should have their power back by 8 p.m.
The problems started at around 1:30 p.m. when a wire underneath Elm Street began burning. Connecticut Light and Power crews cut power to the circuit to prevent further damage and shut off power on another circuit as a precaution, said Mitch Gross, a spokesperson for the utility company.
Up to 4,400 CL&P customers were without power for most of the afternoon and Elm Street was evacuated as a precaution while crews went to work to fix the problem at the intersection of Elm and Park streets. Elm Street was evacuated and no traffic was allowed on the street until just before 5 p.m.
The resulting outage rendered the downtown area a ghost town, but for CL&P employees, town emergency management volunteers and a few people wondering when the power would return.
Randy Jahier, owner of Life Aquatic fish store on South Avenue, couldn’t do much except show employee Bobby Johnston some tips to keep fish tanks running smoothly. The lights were off, but the store’s tanks were still working thanks to a generator.
“The power went off for a second or two,” at about 1:30 p.m., “and then it went five minutes later,” he said. “I thought we were in a brownout because most of the equipment was half working.”
Jahier noted that his store had not lost power during Hurricane Irene last August or during last year’s freak October snowstorm. Both events left most residents without power for more than a week.
Tucker Murphy, executive director of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, became a Community Emergency Response Team volunteer once the business district’s power went out. She said the outage would be tough for local business owners, particularly restaurant owners who would lose perishable goods.
“I don’t think anyone was panicking. I think everyone was more inconvenienced more than anything else,” she said.