Conn. Governor Seeks Federal Emergency Declaration

Posted by jcashman

SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut residents used chain saws and shovels Sunday to dig out from an early blast of winter weather that snapped trees, toppled power lines and left many fretting over how they would stay warm during record-breaking power outages.

The October nor’easter plunged more than 800,000 customers into darkness across the state, shattering the record for a single event that was set when the remnants of Hurricane Irene hit in August. It may take more than a week to restore power to everyone, Connecticut Light & Power said.

This outage will be worse than one caused by Irene, said Peter Bloom, 70, of South Windsor, because temperatures are now frigid and he relies on electricity to heat his home.

“I’m going to put another blanket on. What else can I do?” he said as he gassed up a snow blower to clear his driveway. “At least I’ll save a few bucks on my electric bill.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked President Barack Obama on Sunday to declare a federal emergency in Connecticut, a designation that would make the state eligible for U.S. aid and involve the Federal Emergency Management Agency directly in the local storm response. Malloy has already declared a state of emergency. The storm has been blamed for one Connecticut death in a traffic accident.

The storm smashed a record for October snowfall in Connecticut, dropping 12.3 inches Saturday at Bradley International Airport, said Charlie Foley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. The earlier measurable snowfall in the state was 1.7 inches on Oct. 10, 1979.

In the Hartford suburb of South Windsor, some residents were using chain saws to clear away fallen tree limbs. Some trees were snapped in half, and others were weighed down so much that the leaves brushed the snow.

“Look at this, look at all the damage,” said Jennifer Burckson, 49, after she came outside Sunday morning to find a massive tree branch had smashed her car’s back windshield.

Connecticut Light & Power reported more than 800,000 customers without power Sunday, about 64 percent of its customers. The United Illuminating Company reported more than 16,000 customers without power in its service area around Bridgeport.

CL&P president Jeff Butler said the utility is using two helicopters to help with damage assessments. He said the storm caused significant damage to transmission lines, and he and the governor said the recovery will not be quick.

“It is going to be a more difficult situation than we experienced in Irene,” Malloy said. “We are expecting extensive and long-term power outages.”

Thirty-two shelters were open around the state, and Malloy asked volunteer fire departments to allow people in for warmth and showers.

At a Big Y grocery store powered by generator in Newtown, in western Connecticut, managers were giving updates over an intercom. It was one of the only businesses open for miles, and was serving as an information center, supply base and coffee station.

When an announcement came that it could take five days for power to return, customers groaned. The store let them borrow outlets to charge cell phones. One coffee maker was up and brewing, but it struggled to keep up with a line of people 30 deep and growing. A nearby diner, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts were all closed.

Shopper Sharon Martovich of Southbury said that after her power went out about 4 p.m. Saturday, she called all of her neighbors before her cell phone died and they came over for an impromptu Halloween party with wine and quesadillas in front of her propane fireplace.

She’s hoping the power will come back on in time for her husband’s Halloween tradition of playing “Young Frankenstein” on a giant screen in front of their house.

“We would be really sad and it would disappoint a lot of people if we can’t play ‘Young Frankenstein,’” she said. But no matter what, they will make sure the eight or so children who live in the neighborhood don’t miss out on trick-or-treating.

“Either way we will get the giant flashlights and we will go,” she said.

Around Newtown, trees were so laden with snow on some back roads that the branches touched the street. Every few minutes, a snap filled the air as one broke and tumbled down. Roads that were plowed became impassible because the trees were falling so fast.

At least 17 flights were canceled at Bradley airport. The Metro-North commuter rail line said service was suspended on the Danbury and Waterbury branches.

In Simsbury, Kerry McNiven said the darkened supermarket where she was shopping for provisions resembled “one of those post-apocalyptic TV shows.” She said the storm caught her by surprise and she needed to buy plastic flatware, paper cups and plates.

“I have a sink full of dishes and no water,” she said.


Associated Press writer Noreen Gillespie in Newtown, Conn., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Related posts:

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  3. Obama Declares Emergency for Conn. Ahead of Irene
  4. Power Outages Rise as Irene Approaches Bay State
  5. Conn. Gov. Considers Putting Full Ban On Non-Emergency Vehicles

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Posted by jcashman on Oct 30 2011. Filed under Politics. 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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