Simsbury Neighborhoods Trapped by Trees Following Isaias Impact

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On David Drive, just down the block from Jacquelyn Leopold’s house in Simsbury, a 50-foot branch sat across the road, 36 hours after Tropical Storm Isaias swept through.

Leopold and her husband, Deputy First Selectman Sean Askham, have been hunkering down in their home with five-week-old daughter Audrey and four-year-old Eleanor for the past 48 hours.

Sean Askhal and Jacquelyn Leopold hold their daughter Audrey in front of a 50-foot tree branch that's closed their road, David Drive.

 “I feel like they should be prioritizing small streets where there are hazards on the road. This is dangerous,” said Leopold.

The couple has had to think two steps ahead to make sure their newborn has what she needs.

“We don’t have electricity which means we don’t have running water, we don’t have toilets that flush, I can’t mix the baby’s formula.”

They said Eversource’s slow response isn’t making life any easier.

“Our crews are facing an enormous task. Right now, we have 1,829 trees that have to be removed across the state,” said Frank Poirot, a spokesperson for the utility company.

“I get that they’re busy. I get that there’s a lot of life and safety issues out there, but no communication and understanding of when a crew is going to be in town, that’s unacceptable,” said Askham.

The town’s Department of Public Works estimated a half dozen neighborhoods were still cut off by fallen trees nearly 48 hours after the storm hit.

“Trees down, wires down. Nobody on the street has power,” said Lori Burrous, who lives on Farmstead Lane.

The neighborhood has 27 homes. The only way out for residents was blocked by a large evergreen draped over electrical wires.

“It doesn’t feel very secure or safe,” said Lea Anne Moran, who conceded she’s traveled under it to get to work, a job she said she can’t do remotely.

We saw several residents drive and even walk underneath the branches and near the live wires. 

“It’s hazardous, it is hazardous, but if you need to get out of the community it’s the only way we can,” said Moran.

Burrous said she’s most concerned for her elderly neighbors.

“They don’t have power. They can’t get out. It’s scary. It’s really scary,” said Burrous.

Justine Hudec said she’s been sticking close to home, fearing her car might get stuck if she tried driving underneath the tree.

“We keep walking over there expecting some kind of work to be done,” said Justine.

Neighbors worried about how emergency crews would reach them and expressed frustration with Eversource. They give the utility company low marks for their response to the storm.

“An F.  We haven’t gotten any response,” said Hudec.

“They really need to get their act together,” added Burrous.

“The first priority is usually major roads. We work out these priorities with the town. It’s not us dictating anything. We go to the town and get a sense from them in a collaborative way what roads have to be cleared first,” said Poirot.

“Yes, they’re correct. The part that they left out though is that they’ve left us stranded for 36 plus hours with no crews in town and with level-one priorities like Farmstead and Lincoln Lane, there was no access for 36 hours and the town has been telling them that since the moment those trees were down,” Askham responded.

Eversource crews did arrive on Farmstead Lane to de-energize the wires Thursday afternoon.

Crews quickly moved in to get the tree out of the road, but residents still felt in the dark about when their power would be restored.

Town officials said they hoped to have all of these roads back open by 8:30 Thursday evening, but had no estimate of when the lights would be turned back on.

While their power was off, there was still a bright light on David Drive.

 “We’ll tell her she was a great baby during some really unsettling times,” said Askham of baby Audrey.

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