Among the brave 5 percenters — the unlucky folks in the Lake Garda neighborhood who might not get power for days — there was little sympathy for Connecticut Light & Power's dramatic failure.
People can't work. There's no water. Toilets can't flush. One family set up a kitchen in the driveway. Others have fled to friends and family who have power.
And yet for a week, they kept hearing their power company say that the lights would be back on by Sunday night.
"I don't believe it,'' John Blasko replied when I told him that his neighborhood was inching a little closer to turning the electricity back on. "I don't trust [CL&P chief Jeffrey] Butler. I don't trust the executives below him. They are lying to the consumers."
"Butler should be fired," said Blasko, a 41-year resident of this modest neighborhood that straddles the border with Burlington.
When I reached him by cellphone, Mike Clark, who is chairman of the local town council, told me that he also didn't believe CL&P's assessment that 95 percent of his town would have power by midnight Sunday.
"You can't tell me there's 95 percent in Farmington. They are fudging their numbers."
On Sunday evening, it appeared that some lights might go back on in the Lake Garda area: Morethan a dozen additional repair trucks arrived as CL&P raced to meet its self-imposed midnight deadline of restoring service to at least 99 percent of its customers.
But all the double talk of the past week has left a bad taste and a profound lack of confidence in government and the things we take for granted. Few people seemed to trust much of anything they have heard from officials in charge after eight days without electricity.
The governor's promise for a full investigation of why this happened doesn't hold much when your entire neighborhood sits in the dark.
"They said hang in,'' said Carol Clifford, who was trying to warm up in her front yard on Circle Drive. "Well, I'm tired. It's cold. The government needs to be more active."
"They said it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. We've had a lot of once-in-a-lifetime things."
Around here, a lot of people rolled their eyes at the promises from the electric company. A little more straight talk wouldn't have brought the lights on, but at least folks wouldn't feel so deceived.
Late Sunday afternoon, eight days after the storm, utility lines still hung precariously from trees, across front lawns or wrapped in piles of brush. Some utility poles were crumpled and broken. All around, generators whirred and residents continued to clean up among the towering white pines that dominate this thickly settled neighborhood of twisting, hilly roads.
I found folks sharing generator power, baking bread for each other and plenty of warm praise for CL&P's rank-and-file repair crews. There was disdain for the company's top leadership.
"Enough is enough," said Shelly Goralski, who was loading her car with her husband for another trip to Bristol, where they are staying with a relative. Her husband, a Realtor, hasn't been able to work. She's been showering at her job. "We've had to throw out hundreds of dollars worth of food."
I told people that Gov. Dannel Malloy promised an even more aggressive investigation into CL&P's response to the devastating Halloween snowstorm, adding Attorney General George Jepsen to a team that includes an outside consulting firm. Most people were quick with a comment about the face of this crisis — CL&P's Butler.
"That guy put his neck out. As far as I'm concerned, his reputation was on the line" said Sue Petruzzi . A thick electric cable lay across her driveway and front lawn. "It's 43 degrees in my house right now."
Todd Parent was among those who said that the long outage has affected his ability to earn a paycheck.
"My business is affected. I do construction. I need electricity,'' Parent said. "They can't be more prepared for something like this?"
Tamatha Wolfel told me that a day after the storm, she ran into a CL&P lineman in the street near her house.
"I said don't sugarcoat it,'' Wolfel said. "So he said it will be at least 10 days before you have power."
"As soon as he said that, that's when I set up the kitchen,'' she said. In the driveway, near the generator that her husband bought, she's got a cowboy kitchen set up, with Coleman lanterns lighting tables and camping stoves.
"I didn't want to feed into anybody's negativity,'' Wolfel told me when I asked if she was mad at anyone. "You think about the [Japanese] tsunami; well, we have houses and roofs over our heads."
So they've had parties for the kids, and she's cooked chicken Marsala, macaroni and cheese and fettuccine.
"We're the 5 percent,'' she told me with a grin before going to work on Sunday night's dinner. Outdoors.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun