Category Archives: Weather

Everyone Into The Water!

Just a typical Saturday in mid-October:

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

Westporters’ Puerto Rico Saga Ends Well

In the long weeks following Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico, a Westport family did not know the fate of a loved one.

With most cell towers ruined, the Vazquez family could not contact Felix’s mother, Carol Bruno. That was the first part of a story aired the other night on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.

But the network looked for Carol.

And found her.

The reunion — by satellite phone — was also aired.

To see the entire segment — a bit of good news, in a continuing tragedy — click here.

(Hat tip: Jeff Mitchell)

 

Don’t Forget Caribbean Hurricane Victims

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by natural disasters. Westporters have recently been asked to help hurricane victims in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

The town has responded strongly. Nearly all of us know people in those battered places.

Most of us do not know anyone in Barbuda or Dominica. Yet those Caribbean islands were devastated too.

Lynroy Henry works in Westport as an athletic coach. He’s asking for help for the many Barbudans and Dominicans now living in Antigua, after Hurricane Irma drove them from home.

His organization — Roots of Bolans — will personally deliver much-needed items to Antigua.

The list includes:

  • Non-perishable foodstuffs and dried goods (sardines, tuna fish, milk, rice, sugar, flour, beans, etc.)
  • Pampers, baby formula, feminine napkins, toiletries
  • Cash for purchasing building materials locally

Donations can be dropped off at 10 Bay Street. For more information, call 203-919-0921.

Hurricane Irma damage on Barbuda.

Staples Music Department Plays For Hurricane Relief

Last month, Hurricane Harvey roared through Texas. In addition to many damaged homes and businesses, countless small reminders of the storm’s devastation remain.

For example, school districts lost music libraries. Some had been meticulously grown, for decades.

Help is on the way.

Luck’s Music Library has pledged to match every dollar donated to a special fund.

The Staples Music Department quickly joined in. The goal is to raise $10,00o here. Thanks to Luck’s, that would mean $20,000 worth of music for Texas.

How will Westport do it? Let’s count the ways.

On Wednesday, October 18 (7:30 p.m., Saugatuck Elementary School) the Staples Strings Concert kicks off the drive, with a pass-the-hat collection.

Lauren Schmidt, Jessica Xu and Scott Adler rehearse for the upcoming Strings Concert.

At halftime of the Friday, October 27 home football game, the Jazz Ensemble will appear on the big scoreboard. That’s followed by video of a Houston high school. Tri-M music honor society members will then collect funds in the stands.

A “Chamber-a-thon” is set for Friday, November 3. From 3:30 p.m. on, musical groups play for 20 minutes each. They’ll ask Westporters to sponsor their segments, and a case will be open for other donations. The music department is searching for a high visibility location like Barnes & Noble for this event.

After Thanksgiving, there’s a Radio-a-thon with recorded Staples music and pledges.

Funds will also be collected every concert in town from now through Candlelight. A board sign near the tennis courts will show progress.

Meanwhile, all donations are welcome. Checks can made out to “SHS Music” and sent to: Staples High School Music Department, 70 North Avenue, Westport, CT 06880. Please write “Hurricane Harvey relief” on the memo line.

Logo by Tomaso Scotti, a Staples student in Carla Eichler’s graphic design class.

Puerto Rico Relief Effort: “Breathtaking”

Marcy Sansolo organized 2 previous relief efforts via her What Up Westport Facebook page. Both were very successful.

But Sunday’s outpouring of love and care — for Puerto Rico’s victims of Hurricane Maria — was, she says, “nothing short of breathtaking.”

The drive at the Westport Library parking lot was arranged in just 3 days. Drop-off times for goods and supplies lasted only 2 hours. But the response of Westporters was heartwarming.

A woman who works at Pottery Barn dropped off items she had purchased. An hour later she returned, with a large box of donations from the store.

Two young children made cards. Older kids helped parents empty their cars.

A note to the children of Puerto Rico.

“I don’t think there’s any bug spray or diapers left at CVS,” Sansolo says. “I’m sure we cleaned them out.”

“The sense of community was inspiring,” Sansolo says. “Members of What Up Westport came from as far as New York. Everyone asked, ‘How can I help?'”

When it was clear that more drivers would be needed to deliver donations to shipping centers, Sansolo ordered a U-Haul. Many people offered to split the cost. That’s in addition to 6 SUVs and minivans, all filled to the brim.

A small portion of the many donations.

The news from Las Vegas yesterday stunned Sansolo. She loves live music, and cannot conceive of what happened at that concert.

But, she says, “then I think about all of the beauty and love I saw on Sunday. My hope in mankind is renewed.”

Sansolo plans more community events on What Up Westport. She welcomes everyone who wants to join.

[OPINION] Cynthia Gibb: Idle No More!

This month’s devastating hurricanes got Cynthia Gibb thinking.

The 1981 Staples High School graduate — a noted actress (“Fame,” “Search for Tomorrow”), now a vocal coach back in her hometown — is concerned about the worldwide impact of climate change.

But she’s a firm believer in the adage “think globally, act locally.” She writes:

America has just experienced 2 historic storms back-to-back, and I am feeling frustratingly helpless. Climate change is here.

Cynthia Gibb

I have known this was coming for a long time. I learned about global warming back in the mid-80’s when I joined a group called Earth Communications Office, a Hollywood group with the mission of educating Americans about the changes in our climate.

Everything I learned back then has unfortunately been coming to fruition. That means that still ahead are horrific droughts, fires, floods, the extinction of many animals and insect species, the movement of our tree line north (affecting farming and quality of life for all who live in the south) — among other catastrophic events.

Last spring, at the Staples High School science awards ceremony, a scientist told the audience that we could expect to see Miami underwater in the foreseeable future. I wonder if he knew it would happen so soon?

I get overwhelmed by this knowledge. Climate change deniers sit in the White House, and run the EPA. Trump has said he will pull us from the Paris agreement. Pruitt wants to roll back environmental laws. It’s terrifying and infuriating.

Yet one thing that gives me hope is that there are forward-thinking folks, making a difference. Some of them are right here in Westport.

Our RTM recently passed the Net Zero in 2050 Initiative. We’ve joined the  governors of Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, California, Colorado and Washington in pledging to exceed the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. In fact, the northeastern states have already reduced their carbon emissions by 37% since 2008.

Earthplace has screened the documentary “Idle Threat.” These are great starts.

Wakeman Town Farm is evidence of Westport’s strong environmental concerns.

But the solution has to come from citizens, as well as government.

I’ve been asking myself, “What can I do?” Cash donations to flood victims won’t stop future disasters.

In his new book Climate of Hope, Michael Bloomberg encourages everyone to do their part. I have finally figured out what mine is: I am making a conscious choice to obey Connecticut’s Do Not Idle Law.

I recently learned it is illegal for all vehicles — including buses, trucks and passenger vehicles — to idle for more than 3 minutes in our state. After just 10 seconds of idling, we waste more fuel than stopping and restarting our cars. Even in cold weather, engines need only 30 seconds to warm up.

The law is clear.

So I no longer idle in the school pick-up line, or the Starbucks or bank drive-through. If I want to continue a phone call or listen to the radio, I turn off my engine and turn on my battery.

If it’s hot, I roll the windows down. If it’s cold, I leave them up! It’s really easy and simple, now that I’m in the habit — like remembering to bring my reusable bag to the grocery store!

I feel better now that I am doing my part and setting an example for my kids that we can change our behavior, even if it’s inconvenient. It’s a small gesture, I know. But if 26,000 of us do it in Westport, we can set an example to the rest of the nation — where every day we waste 17 million gallons of fuel due to idling.

This is also important for children in our town, who can suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases due to car emissions.

This is a call to action, fellow Westporters! I invite anyone reading this to join me in turning off your engines whenever you can. After all, there is only one ozone layer.

And we all share the same air.

 

(Click here to sign Westport’s no-idle pledge.)

 

What Up Westport? Help Puerto Rico

As Puerto Rico pleads for help, Westport acts.

Tomorrow, (Sunday, October 1) What Up Westport — the popular Facebook group — has organized a drive to collect much-needed items for the hurricane-battered island.

Hurricane Maria’s floodwaters have receded. But the situation in Puerto Rico remains dire. This is the mayor of San Juan, helping people while wading through sewage-filled water with a bullhorn.

Supplies can be dropped off from 3-5 p.m. at the Westport Library upper lot (near the Levitt Pavilion). They’ll be shipped quickly, through a New York relief organization.

Emergency supplies

  • Bottled Water
  • Baby wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Diapers
  • Canned foods
  • Dry foods
  • Baby formula
  • Garbage bags
  • Towels
  • Canned milk
  • Canned and dry pet food
  • Baby and adult pain relief medicine,
  • Stomach and diarrhea relief medicine
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • First aid kits
  • Laundry detergents
  • Dish soap
  • Cots

Construction supplies

  • Extension cords
  • Ground fault protectors
  • Pop-up canopies
  • Shovels
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Crowbars
  • Hammers
  • Utility knives
  • Work gloves
  • Wood panels
  • Electric generators
  • Electric cables
  • Tarps
  • Ropes
  • Chainsaws
  • Safety glasses.

NOTE: Please bring only these items. Be sure to check expiration dates.

Come on, Westport. Let’s help our fellow Americans. See you at the library!

Humane Response To Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey brought incredible human suffering — and heroism — to Houston.

But there were plenty of stories — awful, and inspiring — about animals too.

Earlier this month, 2 teams of Connecticut Humane Society employees traveled to Texas, for 10 days each. The groups relieved their Texas shelter colleagues, who had worked nonstop on relief efforts.

The CHS group administered medical treatment, tested dogs for heartworm, fed, cleaned and distributed pet food, at several sites.

A Connecticut Humane Society team in Houston.

Meanwhile, after a long journey, 22 dogs from areas affected by Harvey arrived at CHS. They’d already been in shelters, looking for new families, before the hurricane hit.

Bringing them to Connecticut gives Texas shelters room to house pets waiting to reunite with families.

The pups here are being spayed, neutered and treated for any medical conditions before being placed up for adoption.

All of this takes money. So on Sunday, October 1 (12 to 3 p.m.), Southport Veterinary Center is hosting a fundraiser.

It’s at the Ned Dimes Marina — coincidentally, on the first day that dogs are allowed back on the beach.

A Houston dog, waiting for adoption ohere.

The event is a “sit-in.” Southport Veterinary will contribute $5 to the Connecticut Humane Society for each dog that can sit on command for 2 minutes — and $1 per minute after that.

It’s first-come, first-served. Dogs can be bribed — er, rewarded — if necessary. But they must obey the command on their own free will.

Dog (and people) treats are available for contributions. Microchips can be checked too, at no charge.

The “sit-in” is a clever concept. Of course, after sitting for a few minutes, all those dogs have a big, wide beach to romp on.

And it’s theirs through March 31.

(For more information — and to contribute, if you can’t be there — click here.)

 

Pic Of The Day #155

Schlaet’s Point this morning. Rough weather was predicted for later, but the remnants of Hurricane Jose moved far to the east. (Photo/Matt Murray)

Jose Can You Sea?

A tropical storm watch for the remnants of Hurricane Jose has been discontinued.

However, a coastal flood advisory is still in effect, for low-lying areas during high tides.

One of those is Burying Hill Beach.

This was the scene earlier today:

(Photo/Frank Rosen)

It sure could have been worse!