Marpe: The Latest On Connecticut’s 4th Worst Storm Ever

1st Selectman Jim Marpe and the Westport Emergency Management Team provide the following update. It is also available on WWPT-FM (90.3), which frequently provides information in emergencies.

Eversource considers this storm to be the 4th largest ever experienced in Connecticut, and Governor Lamont has declared a State of Emergency. [“0688o”‘s side comment: We don’t want to even think about the other 3.]

It was a “wind event,” with sustained winds of 54 mph and gusts of 63 miles per hour. Fortunately, the flooding risk never materialized as rainfall was measured at ½ inch. The Emergency Management Team anticipates that the storm and its aftermath will require multiple days of clean up and restoration in all areas of town.

Statewide, 617,000 customers are without power, with 12,226 Eversource customers (97%) without power in Westport. The significant damage and high percentage of those without power and other utility services indicates that Westport may have been the hardest hit municipality in the state.

Residents are advised to remain safe at home to allow for an expedient and safe clean up. Many homes sustained significant damage. A large number of roads remain closed and impassable due to uprooted trees, large limbs, debris and downed wires. Department of Public Works crews will not touch, move or remove downed trees until the utility companies address downed wires first.

Eversource crews are assessing and evaluating the safest way to manage the many downed wires and then work cooperatively to restore power safely to neighborhoods throughout town. All of Westport has been impacted by this event, with varying degrees of damage and need for immediate attention and prioritization. Unfortunately, this means that it may be days until full power is restored.

Damage on Saugatuck Shores. Isaias was the real deal. (Photo courtesy of News12)

For your safety and the safety of work crews who are trying to clear the roads and restore power:

  • Do not go sightseeing! Roads must be kept clear for emergency vehicles.
  • Do not drive over or go near downed wires.
  • Do not drive or walk around yellow barrier tape or barricades.
  • Stay well clear of downed power lines: 25’ at least!
  • Be vigilant about downed trees and tree limbs hung up overhead

If you must drive, use caution, expect delays and detours, and be considerate of other drivers and emergency crews. DO NOT drive around tape or barricades – they have been erected for your safety. Without working traffic signals, intersections must be approached as if a STOP sign was there.  Make a full stop at all intersections and treat this as a four way STOP.

Please be aware of possible carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators.

  • All generators (portable and installed) should be used in well ventilated locations outside and at least 10-15 feet away from all doors, windows, and vent openings.
  • Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.

Town facilities, including the beaches, Longshore, Recreation programs, the Westport Library, the Senior Center and Wakeman fields remain closed today. All Senior Center virtual programs are cancelled for the remainder of the week.  The Board of Finance meeting scheduled for tonight is cancelled.

The Department of Human Services reminds residents to please check on your friends and neighbors. This weather emergency, combined with COVID-19 concerns, is stressful and may have a profound effect on our most vulnerable citizens.  We are a resilient, caring community that looks out for one another.

If you know of a neighbor who is elderly or particularly vulnerable, please reach out to him or her and offer assistance from a safe distance. DHS staff is available weekdays from 8:30 am-4:30 pm at 203-341-1050 to provide information and resources, although it’s most important to rely on your natural supports at this time. Please practice patience and consideration as we are all doing the best we can under the circumstances.

After 4:30 p.m., residents can call the CT information hotline by dialing 211 or go to www.211ct.org for mobile crisis support.

Only call 911 for true medical emergencies.

Due to COVID-19, Westport’s cooling centers, charging stations, and shelters are currently not available, so it is essential to make specific plans to address your needs.

We will continue to provide updates to residents as soon as they are available. Please recognize that there are many who are working as quickly as possible to effectively and efficiently clear the roadways and restore power. Most of us are without power, so we are in this together. You are not alone.

And please remember, we are still fighting the COVID-19 virus so practice social distancing and use face coverings if you choose to leave your home. Please help protect our community as we work together to get through the pandemic and this latest weather crisis. Remember, you are safe at home; not stuck at home. We appreciate your anticipated patience and cooperation.

** Sign up for Emergency Notifications by registering at www.nixle.com, or text 06880 to 888777 from your mobile phone**

11 responses to “Marpe: The Latest On Connecticut’s 4th Worst Storm Ever

  1. Every year just prior to the Hurricane season Floridians and the power companies trim back trees as a preventative. I don’t remember doing this when I lived in Westport. A tropical storm or more severe whether always causes downed trees unless the tree branches are thinned. Now that Fairfield County is encountering seasonal storms more regularly, it may be time to undertake this important preventative action in early July.

  2. I recently got through to a live person at Eversource’s call center and was told they they have not even dispatched crews to Westport, and this is 24 hours after the storm. While I appreciate Jim Marpe’s sound advice I would like to hear more from our elected officials about Eversource’s new normal that it is acceptable to not have power for 4-7 days after a storm.

    • Saranda Berisa

      Usually immediately after a storm the trucks are out. You would hear them working all night.
      It is quite strange that I have yet to see one truck “Assessing” damage, no police cars. They sent a cryptic email out last night that left me with an odd feeling that there didn’t seem to be much urgency on their part. Scary times.

      • The evaluation of damage of status from eversource has been on since 13:20 yesterday, I had reason to believe that this status is the default string when nothing has been done about it. I walked around the neighborhood of long lots area about two hours in the afternoon (not to defy Marpe’s suggestion but to look out for what road is safe to drive and bike on). There are few trees branches hanging on the wires but otherwise perfectly safe for eversource to perform what they claim to be doing “around the clock”. Unfortunately not one eversource utility truck is spotted by me. With 97% customers in Westport out of power I suppose eversource should take this “delivery” job more seriously by dispatching ay least one truck if not more but apparently not. There is zero transparency where the eversource trucks went. With pocketing the rate-hiking additional profits and the surging profits during the summer and due to the pandemic, the company is still not putting customers first. What a shame!

    • i drove around last night, not a single work crew in sight. i havent had a chance to explore today, yet. that is very scary if there is still no action? who did westport piss off? or were they waiting for a disaster to be declared by the governor so they could get financial assistance and not shoulder the cost themselves?

    • Just to follow up the Eversource CEO’s email is James.judge@eversource.com. And he made $19.8 million last year. That could have bought a few more trucks

  3. Yesterday and today I dont see any eversource crews in Westport…
    How long “evaluation” can take?
    This is going to be 5-7 days at least with this pace.
    Storm is something we can’t stop coming but we can be prepared. It seems nor Eversource not the town was prepared!!
    I took a tour today to stamford norwalk fairfield, by far most off the grid city is Westport!

  4. Charles Farrington

    I’m sure folks will figure out the slow response is due to Covid. Normally for big storms we have power company trucks from Quebec, NC, Mass etc. all of these areas were affected by the same storm and all affected by Covid. A true perfect storm

  5. Jay Walshon MD. FACEP

    Thus afternoon we were turned away from Compo Beach. The reason we were given for the parking lots being cordoned off and people not allowed on the beach was because there was no power to there. Really?

    When was the last time you required power at a beach in order to sit in the sand, gaze at the water, get at cool breeze respite from lack of A/C at home, read a book, listen to music, have lunch or dinner, take a swim, meet a friend, skate, play, watch the sunset????

  6. With Weston and Westport hit harder than most other parts of Connecticut, I’m surprised that we’ve not seen more Eversource crews on the streets working already. It still just says assessing outage impact.

    Be well and stay safe!

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