By STEPHEN DOCKERY, Associated Press
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) _ Gov. Dannel P. Malloy pressed for damage assessments Tuesday so storm-ravaged Connecticut could get federal assistance; school officials sorted out revised schedules, and property owners waited for safety inspections to get back into their homes while hundreds of thousands remained without power.
Two days after Tropical Storm Irene disrupted life in Connecticut, for many it remained “on hold.”
In Fairfield, the governor toured a peninsula lined with heavily damaged homes on Long Island Sound. Porches were buckled. The side of one house was gone. Utility poles littered the ground. Some residents whose homes suffered less damage said they were afraid to go inside because structural engineers have been too busy to check their property.
Eva Uhrich did not want to go in her family’s two-story home because the foundation had been damaged by surf that reached a half mile inland before receding.
“We are on a complete state of `on hold.’ It’s just terrifying,” Uhrich said. “I don’t know who to call.”
Some 1,000 roads across the state were blocked by downed wires or tree limbs, but that number was falling, Malloy said. He said the state has not gotten outside help with power restoration as quickly as desired because the storm devastated areas from North Carolina to Quebec.
About 500,000 utility customers in Connecticut were without power Tuesday, down from about 770,000 who lost power during the storm.
Janine Saunders, a spokeswoman for Connecticut Light & Power, said more than 650 crews from outside the region were helping some 200 workers of the Berlin-based utility. Crews came from as far as Seattle, Colorado, and British Columbia in Canada.
In New Haven, officials were planning to deliver ice to residents who lacked refrigeration and needed to keep medicine cool.
About 185 National Guard troops unloaded food and water from delivery trucks at Rentschler Field in East Hartford for delivery to cities and towns. Other troops cleared trees and debris in East Haven and East Lyme. Guard spokesman Col.
John Whitford said he expects troops to be deployed in other towns, as well, throughout the week.
Malloy said while touring hard-hit coastal communities that it was unclear how many millions of dollars in damage the storm had caused. He said he is pressing federal officials to help tally the toll on the state’s infrastructure.
Before the storm hit Sunday, the federal government declared an emergency in Connecticut, qualifying the state for federal assistance.
“Numbers I’ve heard as of yesterday seem awfully short to me,” Malloy said. One consulting firm put the figure at $282 million.
Dozens of Connecticut school districts had pushed back the start of the school year because of the storm, and Department of Education spokesman Mark Linabury said officials were still sorting out the revised schedule.
“It’s such an uncertain situation right now in many districts based on all of the circumstances,” Linabury said, citing the many power outages, flooding, road closures and disruption to bus routes.
The difficulties also affected the parents of tens of thousands of younger children whose daycares, recreation programs and other routines were disrupted.
Megan Karavish, 36, of South Glastonbury said she had to use a vacation day Monday to care for her 2-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter because their daycare was closed.
While Connecticut appeared spared the devastating river floods that struck Vermont and upstate New York, officials warned residents to remain vigilant as the Connecticut River was expected to crest later Tuesday. By the afternoon, the river was 23 feet above flood stage and still rising.
Hartford officials asked residents to stay away from the river. Police Chief Daryl Roberts warned that large pieces of debris floating in the water pose safety hazards.
Associated Press writers Dave Collins and Stephen Singer in Hartford and Stephanie Reitz in Glastonbury contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)