Greenwich first selectman tells residents: ‘Be patient’ with power outages
GREENWICH — Residents woke up Wednesday to the sound of roaring chainsaws and humming generators amid the damage caused by fast-moving but powerful Tropical Storm Isaias.
And that will likely be the scene for a number of days to come.
“This was a bad storm,” First Selectman Fred Camillo said Wednesday morning of Isaias. “It caused a lot of damage. We’re working right now to make sure roads are passable and we’re telling people to be patient.”
The town and the state remained under a state of emergency after the storm — with its strong winds and heavy rain — knocked down trees and power lines on Tuesday, leaving residents to deal with power outages, fallen trees and streets blocked by debris on Wednesday.
Camillo, who headed out before the sun came up to survey the damage, said the storm wreaked havoc throughout Greenwich.
Crews from the town and Eversource went to work, but at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, a total of 10,195 customers, or 36 percent of the town, were still without power after a hot summer day.
The town started the day with two Eversource crews, and four or five expected at noon from Canada, according to Camillo said.
Eversource spokesperson Mitch Gross said it could be some time before power is restore to everyone because of the amount of damage throughout the state. As of late Wednesday afternoon, over 607,000 customers in the state were without power, or about 47 percent of Eversource’s customers. Another 100,000 residents of Connecticut who are customers of United Illuminating were also without power.
“We are asking our customers to prepare for multiple days without power,” Gross said. “We are continuing our repairs and working on our damage assessment to give us a better understanding of how much time it will take.”
Trapped in ambulance
Some minor injuries were reported in town due to the fallen trees said, Lt. Mark Zuccerella, the police department’s public information officer.
In one incident, a drive was injured when a tree fell on their car on North Street at the height of the storm Tuesday afternoon, he said.
The driver had to be extricated from their car and was loaded into an ambulance to be taken to the hospital for treatment when another tree fell, which boxed in the ambulance, Zuccerella said.
That tree was removed and the ambulance was able to proceed to Stamford Hospital with the injured driver.
Gov. Ned Lamont talked about the incident while touring storm damage Wednesday in Middletown.
“A tree falls down, she (the driver) gets trapped, calls 911, an ambulance comes to get her. She gets in the ambulance. She’s fine. A tree comes down on the ambulance,” Lamont said.
There was no immediate update available Wednesday about her condition, police said.
Clearing the roads
The Greenwich Police Department posted updates on Facebook on Wednesday urging residents to remain at home and off the roads while crews are working.
The first priorities for cleanup were focused on the health and safety of the community, such as Greenwich Hospital, the Nathaniel Witherell, police and fire stations, senior residences and the town’s wastewater management facility.
Town work crews also cleared a fallen tree that had blocked the entrance to the Holly Hill Resource Recovery facility, which was a major priority.
The town was also working first to open up the major north/south and east/west roadways to facilitate town cleanup as well as emergency responses. The Department of Public Works, Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Trees Division were all on the job.
“Road opening is often a fluid process,” the Greenwich Police Department said. “The road may be cleared and open but may be closed later for a time to reset poles or allow additional cleanup.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, an estimated 280 roads in town were partially blocked or fully closed due to debris or downed power lines, the town said.
With the state of emergency declaration in place, Greenwich may be eligible reimbursement for cleanup costs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That was the case after Superstorm Sandy caused extensive damage in town in 2012.
Stay cool, get charged
For residents who are without power and need to charge electronics or cool off, the town’s Public Safety Complex at 11 Bruce Place is open 24 hours. Residents who plan to use the facility will be required to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
It was unclear when power would be restored. Gross said that Eversource serves 149 of the 169 municipalities in Connecticut, with damage around the state. The heaviest damage in terms of power outages was reported in Danbury, West Hartford, Waterbury and Westport, he said.
“Every town and city we cover was affected to some degree,” Gross said, blaming the strong winds from the storm.
Gross could not confirm how many crews were working in Greenwich, bu he confirmed help is coming in to Connecticut from Canada, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
The number of dangerous trees throughout the state remains a problem, he said.
“There are a lot of dead or dying trees out there due to drought or insect infestation,” Gross said. “Many of them went down during this storm.”
Blocked roads should be reported to the Greenwich Police Department’s general dispatch at 203-622-8004.
To report power outages, visit www.eversource.com or call 800-286-2000. All power outages should be reported.
Storm in Stamford
In Stamford, the storm’s strong winds knocked power out in about 9,000 households and businesses.
A number of city trucks, including with five front loaders. were out clearing the roads in Stamford, with as many as 25 roads around the city blocked to traffic Wednesday afternoon, Public Safety Director Ted Jankowski said. That was down considerably from the more than 140 roads were reported blocked, at least partially, after Isaias swept through Stamford.
Assistant Police Chief Tom Wuennemann said he knew of no storm-related injuries in Stamford.
He said one city police officer was injured while leaving his house coming to work. While he was in his car in his driveway in a neighboring community, a tree fell on his car and he was taken to a hospital and released after being treated.
Staff writer John Nickerson contributed to this story.