The United Illuminating Company has mobilized its work force to begin assessing damage to its infrastructure in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the region.

As of noon today, approximately 148,000 customers were without power in the 17 communities UI serves, according to a company statement.

"The damage caused by the storm was as bad as we anticipated," said James P. Torgerson, UIL's chief executive officer. "We are currently in damage assessment mode. Assessing damage to our infrastructure is a key component of our restoration process. Information provided through damage assessment allows us to address road accessibility, wires down and other safety issues so our restoration crews can begin their work. We are working closely with our municipal partners to coordinate work and clear operations with their public works crews in the towns we serve. In addition, 200 National Guardsmen also have been assigned to assist in road clearing and damage assessment."

UI reminds its customers and the general public to stay vigilant and continue putting safety first in the storm's aftermath.

"As cleanup begins, there may be lots of debris in people's yards and roads, including downed power lines and other electrical equipment," said Anthony Vallillo, UI's president and chief operating officer. "We urge everyone to stay far away from damaged or dangling lines, and to avoid anything that might be touching them, such as trees or fences. Keep children and pets indoors and away from danger. Always assume downed power lines are live and dangerous, and be mindful of natural gas odors. If you see a downed power line, need to report an electrical power outage, or smell natural gas, call your utility right away with the location and any specifics."

UIL operating company toll-free hotline numbers are

Report Outages and Other Problems:

o The United Illuminating Company: 800-7-CALL-UI (1-800-722-5584)

o Southern Connecticut Gas Company: 800-513-8898

o Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation: 866-924-5325

o Berkshire Gas Company: 800-292-5012

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