Food For Thought

An “06880” reader spent Tuesday morning extracting trees from a neighbor’s home, covering her roof with a tarp, and clearing debris from the yard.

The experience, he says, was “quintessentially American: friends and neighbors pulling together without invitation or direction from anyone except their own innate feeling of responsibility toward neighbors. As it should be.”

However, he was “both disgusted and unsurprised” by the CL&P-bashing reactions on “06880”‘s power restoration story. “Sheesh. Folks need to grow up and start acting like high school students!” he says.

He’s not through. He adds:

“What a bunch of selfish whiners. ‘Why isn’t my personal power restored?’ And the charming but utterly undeceiving ‘of course it was huge and horrible…but what about me?’

“Stop it. Grow up. Get out of your house with some tools. Clear some trees and limbs yourself, and quit waiting for the government to do work you can do. Staples students seem capable. Why aren’t the rest of you?

Staples soccer players, friends and neighbors helped clean up a Compo Beach home yesterday. Throughout town, similar citizen crews of all ages were at work.

“Take a look around. On a reconnaissance by bicycle yesterday I did not see a single street in Westport, Norwalk, Wilton, or Weston that did not have one or more trees down, wires out, houses smashed. Many roads remain closed outright, and  you can’t get trucks through if you can’t get the trees out of the way.

“And why is Mr. Joseloff complaining that CL&P hasn’t cleared streets? Last time I checked, that was the town and the state’s responsibility.

“CL&P had over 600,000 customers without power, and the tri-state area had 4.9 million. That takes a lot of manpower, folks. But of course Westport, with its 10,000, is the most important town. ‘Why can’t I see any trucks?’

Does anyone have any idea how an electrical grid works? If they can’t restore the lines that bring power to your street, fixing your street will get you nowhere. They have priorities, an appropriate combination of civic need and engineering reality. And, shockingly, you just may not be as important as you think you are.

“After a storm every electric utility becomes a whipping boy for unrealistic complainers and opportunistic politicians. Calls go out to bury the lines from people unwilling to put up the $1 million per mile that it costs.

“Get off your high horses, put your dudgeon back under your hat where it belongs, and get a perspective.

“And while you’re at it: Put on some gloves, pick up a saw, and get to work.”

Scenes like this are repeated throughout town. This is the view from the Longshore golf course parking lot. The Parks and Rec office is in the background.

19 responses to “Food For Thought

  1. Just one question. Why would anyone who writes so cogently, convincingly, and intelligently choose to identify himself only as “06880 reader”? What about having the courage to speak out and identify oneself? Of course there will be people who disagree with him, and with each other. But does it strike anyone else that something is very amiss here, if speaking one’s mind – and possibly encountering disagreement – can only be done under the cloak of anonymity?

  2. Terrible advice to give people to start a clean up when officials are warning people against such actions as clearing trees and branches that may be entwined with live wires!

  3. On this issue … Is the bigger concern the message or the messenger?
    So we can still talk about if you agree or disagree with the message without being sidetracked by not knowing the name of the messenger.

  4. Bit harsh don’t you think. Perhaps someone needs a cup of herbal tea and to rest a moment or two….and put things into perspective.

    I spent the storm volunteering at the evacuation center. I have never seen a more caring group than the Red Cross , town employees (particularly the Long Lots custodian and all the town food service staff), the police and volunteers. Everyone pitched in to assist the nearly 100 of our fellow Westporters who were ill, infirm, or just plan evacuated from their homes. It was eye opening to see the level of dedication and caring demonstrated towards the “clients” and the 5 dogs and one cat that were housed at the hight of the storm.

    I get as cynical as others regarding the changing nature of the town, and do think there are those who need to “suck it up” right now. But face it, they are scared, confused and need someone to demonstrate leadership on the local level they way President Obama has demonstrated it on the National level.

    THe good news is that bad as it it, it will get better and we need to demonstrate patience and probably a lot of forgiveness towards those on short fuses right now.

  5. What a great comment this am. I wish I could have said it as well. What we need is fewer whiners and more doers.

  6. Always interesting to see what I call the five steps of post-trauma play out: uncertainty, anger/anti-anger, rationalization, acceptance, perspective. At first nobody knows what is going on and what is supposed to be going on, so reach out to others to find out (e.g. blog post). As things rarely ever go according to plan, or perhaps that plans are never shared with the masses in real-time, people get angry and start trying to figure out for themselves where the problems are. As many figure all roads lead to the top, they blame the guy they consider up-top, causing others to accuse them of being political. Cue the anti-anger folks who love to swoop in and call people whiners, and, like shooting fish in a barrel, find people worse off such that we should now all feel fortunate instead.

    Next comes the peace-maker who tells everyone to just calm down and all work together for the good of everyone. After several days of all this, everyone just accepts the situation for what it is and starts to move on with their lives. When things are back to normal people begin putting everything above into some sort of perspective that they think makes sense, a process that continues essentially forever.

    Somewhere in the middle of all this comes someone like me to remind people that in the script of life we need people to fill all the roles. Therefore, feel free to jump into the discussion at any point because we are talking a natural vs. unnatural process to go through all of this, not a right vs. wrong way instead.

  7. Jeff, you nailed it!

    Don’t ya love the anons who start out TELLING us how much wonderful loving an charitable work they have done, then TRASH the rest of us as sinners. “Be like me” they scream.
    No thanks 😉

  8. Mr./Mrs./Miss 06880 Reader.

    First-my name is here for everyone to see it. Second, I am one of the residents who helped start the concern about CL&P. Your message got my attention.

    You should avoid making assumotions where you do not know what people have done. You are wrong and need to know itI would rather work to get attention and help for everyone.

    As a CL&P complainer, worried about our senior citizens and young children, I am not sitting at home doing nothing. We as neighbors got together and cleared a major tree issue off our street despite being warned about the downed power lines. We have all worked together to get our houses in order, even our generators working. Those that can, have invited those that cannot take showers, eat, etc. We have all worked to clear our road given we did not beleive it would get done for days, maybe weeks.

    What I will not accept is mediocrity. We all knew the storm was coming. We were promised 1500 extra workers to get this cleaned up quickly. As of this morning, Westport still has 77% without power. I will not accept a Katrina type response and say it is OK. I just watched as many power company trucks from out of state are stuck in traffic on the Merritt. Can we not get the governor to give them escorts to get thru it and start the work we need? This is a suggestion–to help with the problem. Not just complain.

    I also would like our First Selectman to communciate more. Why not? He is not being judged on the lousy job CL&P is doing, that will go to the governor. He needs to let us know what he hears and sees. Most town leaders are doing that multiple times a day. Mayors, governors and our President are speaking. I will stand up and say Gordon Josleoff should be vocal and we should hear from him.

    My concern is not about me–it is about my neighbors. it is about the store owners who cannot open and are losing business. It is about children who could be cold now that cooler weather is upon us. And it is about how, once again, CL&P seems not to be able to handle a storm.

    I have traveled thru town and seen the generous work done by all our neighbors. But we cannot fix the down trees on powerlines, we cannot turn on the power. We cannot fix the transformers. That is for CL&P.

    I want and demand the best from CL&P. Not mediocrity as we have seen it before and as we see it today.

    • “I will stand up and say Gordon Josleoff should be vocal and we should hear from him.” Have you signed up for Code Red alert? Do you listen to 90.3 FM? Or do you prefer to pontificate! Sounds like you want a personal message hand-delivered to you by the First Selectman.

      • Anonymous–interetsing that you say the way to get information is thru a radio station. Since I work, I find your input to be a bit ‘old fashion’, and not practical if you don’t mind. Since Gordon Joseloff owns WestportNow that could be an easy solution. Twice a day have his people put out a report that anyone with a smartphone can access, along with the primitve radio station method. Even have it posted on Westport Patch–to be fair to the competiton. By the way, that is what other town leaders are doing.

        By the way, does anyone else feel the use of “Code Red” is a bit overplayed? I don’t mind calling it an UPDATE, and using the phoje system. I am all for it. But should the use of Code Red be for emergencies that we all need to respond to immediately? Will people start to ignore the phone call when they hear Code red, thinking it is just an update?

        Back to the real world of emails, internet etc.

        • I am retired. I don’t have a smart phone. I do have a radio (both battery and car) . I also find your attuitue a blend of bullying and condescending.

  9. It is so great to hear from all the people who are better than me! Thanks for your amazingness! Especially since you have such intimate knowledge of each and every person in Westport’s personal situation and thus can tell us exactly what to say, feel and think! I feel better already! Let me go clear the maybe live wires from my front door as I know that my new-found sanctimonious force field will protect me!

  10. Amen Jeff! I’m reading Dan’s blogs with great interest as we much family affected in the tri-state area from Sandy and also love for my childhood town, Westport. I feel for every family including my own family in the area. We check in as we can. Having been through a terrible storm/flood situation some years ago in the south, going through a divorce, alone in a big flooded house with a 3 foot “swimming pool” in my monster back yard — with a little girl to raise and feed for 2 weeks while I was flooded in, I had to figure it out for myself — the damage was much too great to get help from the top right away. People up the road from us died in the flood — it was one scary 2 weeks of my life is all I can say. Be grateful you had no Sandy deaths in Westport at least that you know of right now. FEMA was slow — weeks and weeks to wait for money– no flood insurance not being in a flood zone, etc. I had a little help from neighbors, and a lot of courage, intestinal fortitude and sorry, yes, lots of tears, anger, confusion, ranting to myself as well– I would have dared anyone to call me a “whiner” during those weeks. Not sure there wouldn’t have been some body parts missing if they did. Please won’t the new Westport get off of the name calling especially the kindergarten level — “whiners.” Please. Everyone’s emotions will run the gamut — give everyone a break. Jeff’s got the balance right and it’s the truth.

  11. I love this resident! I just got my power back yesterday in Norwalk, I have two kids, we raked the leaves in our condo area, which is normally the landscapers job, we hold our neighbors if they needed to get warm by the fire stop by, but I couldn’t offer them anything to eat as the food had already spoiled. We drove to places to charge our phones ….. You can’t whine …. You need to be greatful for your life …. Wait till you get your power back and see the ” real horror, ” of New Jersey, Staten Island ….. Etc.
    Many of you have a lot to be greatful for ….
    God bless all !

    • Thank you for saying this! People in Westport need to get a grip and realize that, at least for most of them, their worst case scenario is one others would wish they’d been lucky to have. One only needs to watch the coverage of some of the most devasted areas in CT or, as you pointed out, the real horror in Breezy Point and other places in NY and NJ, for starters.

  12. Hoorah for the writer today. Prior comments indicate Immediate remedy seemed to be the order of the first day. Think you had it bad? See Breezy Point, NY and the Jersey Shore. Long Island was without power for 90% of the people and it is impossible to get gasoline or batteries. Be proud of what people are doing for you. What can you do for therm?

  13. I guess whining is in the eye if the beholder.

  14. Today I called CL&P to ask about when a tree would be removed on our street. I had a few questions and was amazed at how patient and informative the woman I spoke with was. I learned that she herself -like so many others- was still without power at her ome, and -like many others- was frustrated and felt helpless, and then had to come to work to hear people’s anger and frustration all day long.

    But I also learned what it might be like to be a CL&P or UI worker, not the corporation, working long hours, in dangerous conditions, surrounded by nothing but stress and criticism. I learned that most of us haven’t got a clue about the workings of CL&P when the power goes out. Not a clue. For example, did you know that when Bridgeport’s Sewage Treatment plants were on their second generators, it was imperative that they get electricity to them before residential areas? We forget that we are lucky enough to live somewhere where we even have Sewage Treatment plants, and don’t ask ourselves (or don’t care to wonder) what it might be like were they to stop working.

    I also found out that CL&P and UI workers have been harrassed, screamed at, even pelted with eggs (in Bridgeport), to the point where in some cases they have had to have POLICE ESCORTS, a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money (not that they don’t deserve them; just that people should leave the workers alone so they don’t need the police…) These are hardworking company employees who are simply doing what they are told, doing the best that they can under difficult circumstances.

    There have definitely been a lot of stressed-out and angry Westporters, and for sure many are irrationally unloading their anger. I have heard several stories about people screaming at their neighbors because of not having cut down a tree or many trees prior to a storm so it/they wouldn’t have fallen on wires and caused their power to go out. As if their neighbors could know that a storm would take down that particular tree! Or assume that the property owner had several thousand dollars to take it down….

    It is disheartening when seeing and hearing about the many horrifying tales of people losing their homes, not just in part of CT, but especially in NY and NJ, not to mention places like Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba that are really struggling, that there are and will continue to be people here whose sense of entitlement is all-pervasive. No amount of putting things in perspective (like thinking of the people from Breezy Point who have absolutely NOTHING now!), will change these folks.

    I want so much to say to them, “Hey, if being in the dark for a week is the worst thing that’s happened to you, you’re doing pretty well.”

  15. I think Joseloff has done a great job of providing concise, timely updates and advocating for service on Westport’s behalf.