September 20th, 2011 | University

Hartford revisits Irene response

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Photo by Harry Simperingham.

Three weeks after Tropical Storm Irene caused the worst power outages in state history, Connecticut lawmakers convened a special hearing Monday to assess how the state handled the storm.

Executives from the state’s two major power suppliers defended their companies’ response operations in testimony before several committees Monday afternoon, the Connecticut Mirror reported. But while state and municipal officials present praised the utilities’ efforts in advance of the storm, executives came under fire for the long wait of some residents for their power to return — many on Lynwood Place waited over a week.

The most critical voice in the room was that of House Speaker Chris Donovan, a Democrat running for a U.S. Congressional seat in 2012.

“Too many suffered without power for too long, jeopardizing their health, safety and livelihoods,” he said, according to a statement on his caucus’ website.

Because most of the damage to the state’s power grid was the result of fallen tree debris, utility executives asked legislators to consider giving them greater flexibility in trimming trees close to power lines, the Mirror reported.

The hearings in Hartford came on the heels of a Quinnipiac University Poll released Sept. 15 in which Gov. Dannel Malloy appeared to receive an “Irene bounce,” according to poll director Douglas Schwartz.

While Malloy’s overall job approval rating stands at 41 percent in the poll, 79 percent of those surveyed approved of his handling of the state’s response to Irene. Voters also approved of the utilities’ response efforts by a margin of 61 to 32 percent.

Another meeting to examine the state’s response to Irene will be held next Monday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.