First Selectman Timothy Herbst today vented his frustration at United Illuminating Co. for its failure to restore power to large sections of town. Trumbull ranks last among the company's service area in percentage of homes and businesses without power.

"They need to be honest with people and not renege on promises they've made to restore power," Herbst said. He took to the radio airwaves Friday morning, delivering sharp criticism of the company's restoration efforts.

"They deserve to be ripped," he said.

Numerous residents in Nichols complained that UI workers had told them the neighborhood would have power restored by Thursday night. On Friday, when they were still without power, company officials told them not to expect power back before Monday.

Herbst said he spoke to a UI official and requested additional manpower. When asked why, he said the residents of Stern Village were facing a crisis. The complex has electric heat and utilities.

"We have 200 seniors there with no lights, no food and no heat," Herbst said. "They told me they could tell their make-safe crew to prioritize Stern Village, but they couldn't guarantee when they would restore power. Wrong answer!"

Police and fire personnel went door-to-door at the complex offering Madison Middle School as an emergency shelter for residents. About 25 are now staying at the school until power is restored. The town also delivered 200 bottles of water and 200 ready-to-eat meals to Stern Village yesterday.

Herbst said there is still no firm timetable for power restoration in town, other than the 95% of all UI customers by Monday night that the company announced yesterday. Power is slowly coming back, Herbst said. Trumbull Center now has power and the stores and restaurants are beginning to reopen to provide hot meals to those who are unable to cook at home. Parts of Main Street also have power.

But the progress is still much too slow, Herbst said.

"UI needs to understand that this situation is bigger than their business and bigger than them selling us power at the highest cost in the Continental U.S.," Herbst said. "This is about people's lives and well-being. They need to get more manpower down here."