Marpe: Westport may be ‘hardest hit community’ in CT
WESTPORT — Almost the entire town remains without power as crews work to clean up possibly the hardest hit community in Connecticut, according to officials.
Damaging winds and heavy rains hit the region Tuesday, ripping down trees and wires across the state, leaving some towns and cities worse off than others.
In Westport, it led to the closure of 60 roads, First Selectman Jim Marpe said Tuesday night. He said most of the town’s traffic lights are not working, and urged residents to stay off the roads.
“We believe that Westport may have been the hardest hit community in the state,” Marpe said. “Our beaches are closed, and the golf course at Longshore Park has been severely damaged and will most likely be closed tomorrow (Wednesday).”
He said once the winds started to die down around 10 p.m., Eversource crews started to get to work restoring power, but made it clear that for some residents, “it may be days until your power is restored.”
He said “hundreds” of tree limbs were still hung up in wires Tuesday night.
“Most of us are without power, so we are in this together. You are not alone,” Marpe said. “Our emergency personnel are out in town and responding to emergencies. If you have an emergency, do not hesitate to call 911.”
Assistant Fire Chief Brett Kirby said the weather stretched the resources of the town’s fire, police and medical crews.
As the storm hit Connecticut, winds quickly picked up, with gusts over 60 mph recorded just before 2 p.m., Kirby said. The trajectory and timing of the storm spared the state more rainfall and the threat of flooding.
Wind instead cause the worst of the damage across the state, yanking down trees, tree limbs and wires.
Eversource reported 11,897 customers without power in Westport as of 9:20 p.m. That number, the utility company website indicated, represents 94.17 percent of the 12,633 Eversource customers in town.
Kirby said between the state of the storm and around 9 p.m., the fire department responded to over 130 calls for service. He said most of those calls involved power lines that were pulled down by toppled trees.
Units also responded to “a structure fire, major propane leaks, occupied cars crushed by falling trees, motor vehicle accidents, structural collapse of a home, multiple houses being struck and damaged by falling trees,” Kirby said. He said there were also calls for medical emergencies.
During those calls, first responders also dealt with many areas of town cut off by trees and wires blocking roads.
Although the worst of the wind and rain is over, Kirby said, “trees will still fall and power lines will still come down.”
“For that reason, we ask that you and your family members stay in your homes and away from these dangers as firefighters and other public safety personnel make the town safe for you,” Kirby said.
Residents should treat any downed wires as live wires and immediately report them to first responders and the utility company.
As power restoration continues, Kirby said, residents should also make sure to observe basic safety measures if using portable generators. He said that includes not running it inside a home or enclosed space, keeping it at least 20 feet from the home and ensuring the exhaust is facing away from the house.
“As we enter the next phase of this storm response and recovery, darkness will make it more difficult to identify hazards so we ask that if you do have to venture out that you stay vigilant,” Kirby said. “Also, as this event will undoubtedly stretch over multiple days, make sure to check on your friends and neighbors who may be unable to make contact with anyone outside their home.”