Hurricane Downgraded to Tropical Storm; One Dead in CT; Truck Ban in Effect;Tornado Watch in Southern Part of State

Posted by jcashman

MILFORD, Conn. (AP) — Hurricane Irene lashed Connecticut with heavy rains and wind Sunday and toppled trees along the shoreline, cutting power to more than 250,000 people and apparently killing one person in a fire caused by downed wires.

Shelters in shoreline communities were housing 1,600 people as the state braced for the full brunt of the storm, which could become the first hurricane to make landfall in Connecticut since Hurricane Gloria in 1985. The center was forecast to come ashore near midday in the Stamford area as a weak hurricane or strong tropical storm.

With the storm expected to arrive around the same time as high tide in Long Island Sound and to cause major flooding, firefighters knocked on doors up and down the shoreline on Saturday urging people to leave their homes. Thirty-two municipalities were reporting evacuations, including Bridgeport, New Haven, Fairfield, Milford, and Stonington.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy closed the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways because they were already littered with debris and urged people to stay off the roads.

“I’m pleading with folks to understand the implications of this storm,” Malloy said. “It would be no fun to be in the middle of 50 mph winds with trees coming down.”

One person died overnight in a fire at a residence in Prospect, and Malloy said the blaze was apparently caused by wires knocked down by the storm.

Many were heeding calls to leave flood-prone areas.

“I have two small children, so we’re not going to stay here,” said Steffi Williams, 41, who lives in a waterfront home in Milford. She was on her way to a hotel further inland in Shelton on Saturday, before town officials ordered mandatory evacuations. She said her home is in the middle of being renovated and she had hurricane-resistant windows put in.

“This will be the first real test,” Williams said. “We’ll see if that was worth all the money we paid for it.”

Malloy said 900 Connecticut National Guard troops were at their posts and ready to respond, but warned that authorities may not be able to help people during the height of the storm.

Officials also predicted widespread, prolonged power outages, possibly lasting several days. Connecticut Light & Power said more than 250,000 customers had lost power Sunday morning.

In New Haven, John DeStefano said many intersections were flooded early Sunday morning and he expected to see more as high tide approached.

“I imagine the next four hours will be intense,” he said.

Workers at the Millstone nuclear power complex in Waterford, right next to Long Island Sound, were ready to shut down the two reactors at the site if winds reached or were expected to reach more than 90 mph, Millstone spokesman Ken Holt said. He said the process takes several hours.

Holt said late Saturday night that officials didn’t believe they would have to shut down the reactors but were monitoring the hurricane. He said the plants were operating at reduced reactor power just in case.

“We have robust flood barriers in place. We have water-tight doors,” Holt said. “Nuclear power plants are among the most hardened structures in the country.”

Nearly all flights at Bradley International Airport north of Hartford scheduled for Sunday were canceled, and airport officials were hoping to return to a normal schedule Monday.

Metro-North train service, Shoreline East rail service and Connecticut Transit bus service all were suspended.

Along the Branford coast, ferries traveled between the shore and the Thimble Islands on Saturday as residents and vacationers left ahead of the storm. Local firefighters went island to island in boats urging people to leave. Fire officials said nearly 50 people had left, others were finishing boarding up their homes with plans to leave, but five insisted on riding out the storm. About a dozen islands have homes on them.

“We advised them that they’ll be pretty much on their own for a while,” fire Capt. Steve Palumbo said. “We do what we can to suggest they get off. At some point, we won’t have access to them.”

Connecticut has not been hit by a hurricane since Bob roared across southeast New England in 1991, causing six deaths in the state and about $680 million in damage in the region.


Associated Press writers Dave Collins and Michael Melia in Hartford contributed to this report.

Related posts:

  1. Tornado Watch Issued Rhode Island
  2. Mass. Readies for Irene; Hurricane Watch in Effect
  3. Irene Downgraded to Tropical Storm, Brings Supermarket Shuffle
  4. State-by-State Look at Dangers in New England, Prep for Irene
  5. RI Residents Urged to Stay Vigilant for Irene; Tornado watch issued for coastal waters

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Posted by jcashman on Aug 28 2011. Filed under Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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