Westport, Weston largely unscathed by tornado that rocked Bridgeport
Published 2:58 pm, Friday, June 25, 2010
Thousands remain without power in the region Friday morning in the wake of the severe storm Thursday afternoon that spawned a small tornado that ripped through Bridgeport's downtown and East Side.
Officials by mid-Friday confirmed the storm, in fact, was a tornado, with winds that surged up to 100 mph.
While a state of emergency -- declared Thursday evening by Gov. M. Jodi Rell -- remains in effect for Bridgeport as the city starts to clean up the trail of destruction left in the storm's wake, relatively minor physical damage appears to have taken place next-door in Fairfield.
However, thousands in Fairfield still have no power because of the toll the heavy rains and winds took on power lines, many of which were torn down by falling tree limbs.
As of 10 a.m. Friday, United Illuminating reported that more 2,600 Fairfield customers had no electric service. By contrast, nearly 8,000 in Bridgeport were blacked out. Also hard hit were Easton, Trumbull and Stratford.
But by 2 p.m., the number of Fairfield outages had been reduced to about 1,120, though Bridgeport still had about 8,200, according to UI.
In Westport, where in the immediate aftermath of the storm, about 250 people lost power, there are no reported outages Friday morning, according to Northeast Utilities. In Weston, NU reported, 104 customers have no service. That number had been reduced to 74 by 2 p.m.
"The 12-minute microburst generated 43 calls" to Fairfield emergency services, said Sgt. James Perez, the police spokesman. The calls primarily concerned "trees down on cars, a multitude of trees down in roadways, and wires down -- people lost power.
"Forty-three calls is significant in the context of the 12-minute storm," Perez added. "I've never seen something so quick, so furious and so complete. The winds just appeared with heavy, heavy rain. We were lucky in in Fairfield that we didn't get the damage Bridgeport did."
During the storm, Fairfield firefighters were dispatched to handle about 40 emergency calls in town, according to Chief Richard Felner.
Several fire crews were also sent on mutual-aid calls to Bridgeport, where that city's emergency services were swamped by the devastation wreaked by the micro-burst. Despite the destruction caused by the storm to buildings, trees and power lines in Bridgeport, officials believe that no lives were lost and that injuries were relatively minor.
"We were ready to assist Bridgeport when they called for mutual aid in responding to the devastation that struck our neighboring community," Felner said Friday, "while at the same our firefighters did a great job in protecting the citizens of Fairfield."
Westport firefighters also helped with emergency operations in Bridgeport. The town's Rescue Company 3 and Engine Company 2, along with Deputy Fire Chief Gottfried, Assistant Chief Kingsbury and Fire Marshal Zygmant. At one point, the Westport crews assisted the evacuation of a seven-story apartment for senior citizens believed to be in danger of collapse.
At 10 p.m., Bridgeport police asked that the Terex light tower co-owned by Westport police and fire departments be brought to the city to help with night-time rescue operations.
Other towns from the region that sent assistance to Bridgeport were Wilton, Trumbull, Milford and Shelton.