Continued from page 1

“Don’t tell me that it will be restored by a certain time and then let that time go by. Tell me a later date and get it back on earlier and I’ll be impressed,” she said.

In Richmond, Va., a huge tangle of downed cables lay in the street outside the Hilscher home. Beth Hilscher said she had repeatedly called the power company about the electricity, “and every time, it’s like a new report, like they’ve never heard of it before.”

As she spoke, five utility trucks rumbled up to a pole that had snapped after an ancient, 50-foot oak fell. For a brief moment, she became excited by the prospect of hot showers and refrigerated food. But after dropping off a new pole, the crew drove off to another assignment.

In Foxborough, Mass., about 90 percent of the town’s 7,820 National Grid customers were still without power Tuesday afternoon when the lights went on at Gillette Stadium, where a New England Patriots exhibition game was scheduled for Thursday night. That brought complaints from some customers, but National Grid denied the football team received special treatment and said one substation was simply not as badly damaged as another.

Politicians have been inundated with complaints from people who say it is taking too long. Rhode Island state Sen. John J. Tassoni Jr. on Thursday called on the state Public Utilities Commission to investigate National Grid.

“It is getting near to a week since the storm passed through our area and many Rhode Islanders are still without electricity,” he said. “I think we need to ask the company some very pointed questions about its preparation for storms and the speed of its response to them.”

William Bryan, deputy assistant secretary of at the U.S. Energy Department, said it typically takes at least few days to restore power after a storm like Irene, and National Grid “has done a great job. They ought to be commended for that. You are well ahead of the curve for restoration.”

Along the East Coast, deep exhaustion set in as work turned from pumping polluted floodwaters out of homes to keeping an eye out for looters, scavengers and scam artists or more welcome visitors such as FEMA representatives and insurance adjusters.

In Rochelle Park, N.J., Nedra Visconti said the town had learned a lesson from Hurricane Floyd in 1999, when looters took what they wanted. This time, Visconti has seen several law enforcement officers checking IDs on some streets.

Nevertheless, she came out of her home to find someone trying to steal her husband’s tools from the piles of water-damaged belongings in their driveway.

She ran the would-be thief off by threatening to call the police.

“I mean, what’s wrong with people?” Visconti said. “Who does something like that?”


Associated Press writers Samantha Henry in Newark, N.J., Chris Kahn in New York, Sarah Brumfield in Towson, Md., John Christoffersen in Madison, Conn., Laura Crimaldi and Erika Niedowski in Providence, R.I., Johanna Kaiser in Boston, Bob Lewis in Richmond, Va., and Michael Rubinkam in Lake Ariel, Pa., contributed to this report.