Lights Out In Branford

Hurricane Irene roared across the shoreline Sunday, plunging the towns of Branford and Guilford into darkness and downing hundreds of trees, many with electric wires entangled within them. Many roads along the shoreline were closed.

There were 85 different locations where trees landed on electrical wires, said Kevin Halloran, the town’s newly appointed police chief, who was expected to be sworn in on Sept. 1. “And we have more than 100 trees blocking roads.”

The police are barred from removing wires from trees until Connecticut Light & Power Co. deactivates the wires. Evaluations of those downed power lines was set to begin at 6 a.m. Monday.

First Selectman Unk DaRos said he was deeply concerned about the town’s loss of electrical power. He said he didn’t know when the power would be restored. “We will be lucky to get it in three days.”

High tide in Branford was at 11 a.m. Sunday, creating surges that were 11 feet high in some places. The worst damage, according to Halloran, was in Pine Orchard and Short Beach. In Short Beach, a second-floor porch on a beachfront house came dangerously near to falling into the sea after the house had been pounded very hard with waves. Cars wound up in a lake that formed on Beckett Avenue.

The Pine Orchard country club was flooded and the golf course looked like a lake. Roads nearby were eroded and on the verge of collapsing, DaRos said.

Town crews will be going out at 6 a.m. Monday to assess the damage to the roads. “When the sun is shining, we will get a closer analysis of the roads. We are still surveying the town from one end to the other.”

The hurricane knocked out service for Comcast customers and even the police department was without Internet service or TV all day.

The public can contact police at (203) 481-4241. In an emergency, call 911. Halloran said he had doubled the police force for Sunday night in order to have a greater presence in the community, because everything is dark.

Branford has opened two emergency shelters for residents in need. One is Mary T. Murphy Elementary School, which will allow residents to bring pets as long as they are confined to a cage. The other is Branford High School.


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posted by: MJ on August 29, 2011  10:47am

Downed phone,cable and power lines mean that Short Beach residents have no access to the the phone land lines that were installed because of the exceptionally poor cell phone reception in the area. In the aftermath of Irene, Short Beach residents have no easy way to communicate from their homes.  Can’t we please resolve the political wrangling to permit installation of a tower of some kind to improve cell service to the area.  It is a matter of public safety at this point.

posted by: Branford Citi on August 29, 2011  12:06pm

@MJ - I live in Branford and have had no power since yesterday morning but my land line phone is working fine. It is an old one and is not dependent on electricity to operate.

Let’s let the process work to determine whether people want those ugly towers in their backyards or if there is a better alternative.

posted by: Short Beach civ on August 30, 2011  12:59pm

Why is the battery in my Comcast landline phone not replaceable? Forget a cell tower that probably wouldn’t be functioning right now and let’s get landline service that stays in service for the duration instead of only six hours.

posted by: Short Beach resident on August 30, 2011  3:31pm

@ Branford Citi: I think you misunderstood MJ.

It’s not just the power lines that are out in Short Beach. The land lines are dead too. We also have an old corded phone, but there is no dial tone.

AT&T confirmed the outage in our area and says we “should” have our land lines back in service by Sunday. Until then, we have no way to call for help in case of emergency.

As for cell towers: Verizon’s are working. I have coverage - until I come into Short Beach.

posted by: Branford Citizen on September 3, 2011  6:56pm

@ Short Beach resident - I learned from a Hartford Courant article that newer types of land lines will not work when the power is out.  I apparently have what is known as POTS - Plain Old Telephone Service. They mentioned VOIP as one type that would go out with the power outage as the batteries that power the switches only last a day. POTS goes thru a central switching service.  Good thing, because you couldn’t get a cell signal in the Main Street area.

posted by: Short Beach resident on September 4, 2011  10:38am

@ Branford Citizen: Interesting. I do know the difference between VOIP & POTS but thought since we’d had a land line here for 25 years it was a POTS. It never failed during previous outages, but I don’t recall an outage of this duration. I remember AT&T replaced the ancient box on our house about two years ago when it failed & we couldn’t test it for them using a modular phone - no jacks. Guess they moved us to a VOIP line then without our knowing about it.

So . . . if our land line will also fail during an extended outage, we’re back to square one. No means of calling for help in an emergency without cell coverage.

posted by: Branford Citizen on September 4, 2011  5:26pm

@Short Beach resident - and no guarantee that cell service will work.  I’m near the center of town and I couldn’t get a signal from AT&T.  Someone I know has Verizon and was able to get a signal.

I think we need underground utilities. Though that might be foolproof either.

posted by: Branford Citizen on September 4, 2011  6:02pm

Or maybe solar power would be a solution. As long as the panels aren’t ripped off the roof.