It has been two weeks to the day since Tropical Storm Irene battered Connecticut: destroying and damaging numerous homes along the shoreline, downing an untold number of trees, and flooding countless communities.
But perhaps the storm's most lasting and widespread historical legacy will be its impact on the state's power grid. By the time Irene blew out of the region late in the evening of Aug. 28, hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses found themselves without electricity throughout Connecticut.
Once the wind and rain died down enough to safely begin repairs, the state's two power companies — United Illuminating and Connecticut, Light & Power — dispatched hundreds of work crews throughout the state in an effort to begin to return service to their costumers.
CL&P reported that it had restored power to all but a few dozen costumers on Sept. 6, or nine days after the storm. And UI reported that it had restored power to some 99 percent of its customers on Sept. 5, or eight days after the storm.
But for many of those who suffered through their home or business being without power for several days after the storm, that effort quite simply was not fast enough.
Many residents questioned both companies' restoration priorities and procedures. And joined that chorus, leading to the state legislature and Gov. Dannel Malloy to organize a formal review of how the two utilities prepared themselves before the storm and conducted their emergency recovery effort afterwards.
Much of this criticism has been directed at CL&P, which at the height found itself with more than 700,000 of its 1.2 million customers without power following Irene.
Although UI also faced the challenge of restoring power to almost half of its 320,145 customer base, the New Haven-based utility company manages a much smaller service area in Connecticut.
So how does CL&P's restoration response time for Irene stack up against previous widespread outages?
According to an historic storm response chart on the company's website (which is also included as an image in the photo gallery to the right of this article), prior to Irene, Hurricane Gloria resulted in the largest number of homes and businesses in Connecticut without power.
The storm — which struck the state on Sept. 27, 1985 — left 477,428 of the company's 534,485 customers at that time without electricity. Restoration efforts were completed 11 days later on Oct. 7.
The next natural disaster on the list is Hurricane Bob, which rolled into Connecticut on Aug. 19, 1991. That storm left 275,000 of the company's 300,000 customers without power. Restoration efforts were completed four days later on Aug. 23.
Next up would be the infamous ice storm of Dec. 17, 1973, which took CL&P five days to complete restoration. And the snowstorm of Nov. 19, 1986, in which all of the company's 209,658 customers found themselves without power. It took the utility three days to fully restore power after that storm.
But Mitch Gross, the spokesman for CL&P, said while comparison of restoration response times for previous storms are interesting to review, the impact of Irene on the state's power grid was "unprecedented."
"We've never had damage to this extent as we did with this storm," Gross told Patch. "So this was a new experience not just for our customers, but for the company as well."
Gross did acknowledge that a week is a diffcult length of time for anyone to not have power at their home or business.
"Yes, it was a long time to be without power," he said of the nine days it took the company to completely restore power to its service area.
But he added that given every one of the 149 Connecticut municipalities the company serves was affected — UI serves the other 17 cities and towns in the state — and that some portions of the electrical distribution system had to be entirely rebuilt and rewired, the company did a "good job if you really look at things."
"We were the only state to be hit head-on by the storm," Gross said.
"Basically, every town in this state was affected," he said.
Still, Gross said, company officials understand the frustration felt by those who were without power for many days.
"We certainly understand that," he said, adding that a number of the company's employees themselves were without power for many days following the storm.
"We heard the feedback from all areas. And it's all being used to help make us better," Gross said.
Gross said CL&P is now in the process of performing its own internal review of its preparation and response to last month's storm, as well as a separate report it will file with state regulators.
"It's all being used to help make us better," he said.
When contacted by Patch, a UI spokesperson said the company did not yet have data available on its emergency response times to previous historic storms and/or widespread outages. The company also did not elect to pass along a comment or additional information for this story.
In a Sept. 5 press release, however, Jim Torgerson, chief executive officer of United Illuminating, said: "Irene certainly brought her share of challenges for our region and we were prepared. I am proud of how we performed. We also have learned and employed new ways to better communicate status/progress of our restoration efforts and will continue to refine those methods for future use.”