Category Archives: Weather

Fire Department Says: Keep Cool!

With the hottest temperatures of the year predicted for this weekend — and heat indexes well over 100 degrees — the Westport Fire Department sends this alert:

The Town of Westport reminds residents of health and safety measures to protect against heat-related illnesses, and to take special care of young children, seniors and other at-risk populations:

  • Find air conditioning, if possible
  • Check on family members and neighbors
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid strenuous activities
  • Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke
  • Never leave people or pets in a closed car
  • Watch for heat illness
  • Wear light clothing.

The following cooling centers are open to the public this weekend:

  • The Senior Center, 21 Imperial Avenue (Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
  • Westport Library, 20 Jesup Road (Friday 9 a.m. to 6 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.
  • Westport Weston Family Y, 14 Allen Raymond Lane, lobby open to public (Friday 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

The Fire Department will update their Facebook page with new openings and/or changes.

Click here for a link to the 2-1-1 “Extreme Heat Protocols” website.

One other way to keep cool: Elvira Mae’s ice cream window. (Photo/Robin Tauck)

Washed Out!

Timing is everything.

The rain started at the worst possible time — around 5:45, 15 minutes before the “06880” blog party was to begin. Prill Boyle came by to say hi, but had to leave.

By 6:20, it was coming down steadily.

A few hardy souls — Michael Calise, Esther Koravillas, Jan Carpenter, Robert Mitchell and I — ventured out. We didn’t notice Bonnie Marcus in her car nearby. I hope I didn’t miss anyone else.

Radar showed the rain settling in.

Of course, as soon as we left, it ended.

If you came late: thanks! If you wanted to be there but couldn’t come: sorry!

See you next year. The long-range forecast is good.

The weather was a bit nicer in 2014. (Photo/Betsy Phillips Kahn)

Another Storm. Another Huge Tree Down.

This morning’s storm was nowhere near as intense as yesterday’s.

Or the one 2 weeks ago Monday. Or the one the day before that.

Nevertheless, it did some significant damage. A tree fell at Mystic Market. Two employees’ cars were heavily damaged.

(Photo/David Griswold)

No one was injured. But be careful.

It’s a jungle out there.

(Photo/Darcy Sledge)

(Photo/Darcy Sledge)

Pics Of The Day #821

For an hour this afternoon, a thunderstorm battered Westport. Most people took cover — including this Compo Beach lifeguard. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

As the rain let up, the sun came out on Warnock Drive. (Photo/Stephanie Mastocciolo)

Unbelievably, Today Is Still Only Saturday

Having our fireworks Wednesday night — and scheduling the 4th of July for a Thursday — was the best idea since the Declaration of Independence.

All around Westport yesterday — at the beach, Longshore, the Y, wherever anyone hangs out* — people said, “Today feels like Sunday.”

But it was Friday!

Since Wednesday, we’ve taken full advantage of everything our town offers.

Steaks on the Compo Beach grill. Ask Bart Shuldman for his secret recipe.

Clouds may roll in today. But we’ve still got 2 days to celebrate the longest weekend ever.

We should have July 4th in the middle of the week every year.

Longtime “06880” reader Bart Shuldman (orange shirt, with plate) threw one of his legendary cookouts yesterday. His many friends wore hats honoring “BartBQ.”

*But not the office, because no one worked.

Unsung Hero #105

Last weekend’s double whammy — a wild, tree-limb-downing, power-outage- causing storm Saturday night; then an even more intense, violent and dangerous one just 18 hours later — stretched our resources to the limit.

On Sunday, the Fire Department responded to 80 calls in an hour. Police were everywhere. Emergency responders raced to deal with downed wires, trees on houses and in roads, even carbon monoxide issues.

For the rest of the day, and throughout Monday, the guys (and gals) whose business it is to handle emergencies like this did just that.

Quickly, efficiently — and often thanklessly — they restored electricity, cut trees, removed limbs, replaced wires, directed traffic, and got Westport back to normal.

A familiar scene. This is Greens Farms Road, at Rustic Lane. (Photo/Seth Schachter)

If you helped, you’re our Unsung Heroes of the Week. Without our firefighters, police, EMTs, traffic agents, Public Works crews, town engineers, utility workers. private contractors — and everyone who supports them — this town would be a mess.

You’re always there when we need you. Hopefully we won’t need you again for quite a while.

But somehow, I doubt it.

Remembering Dave Schmerzler

Dave Schmerzler — a native Westporter and Staples graduate — was killed in Sunday’s storm. His family and friends have written this remembrance of him.

David Laurence Schmerzler, a lifelong resident of Westport and Fairfield, was born November 2, 1964. He was a 1983 graduate of Staples High School and a 1987 graduate of Syracuse University, where he served as president of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

David was the 3rd son of Barbara Harlib Schmerzler and Seymour B. Schmerzler. They lived at The Glen in Westport, where his mother still resides.

David was vice president, sales at Lindenmeyr Central, a paper company in Southport. His brothers and friends envied his short and convenient commute – but why would David waste time on the train? He had too many other things to do.

David met his wife and love of his life, Donna Taussig, in 8th grade at Coleytown Junior High School. High school sweethearts in every way, they married in 1992 in the back yard of the house at The Glen, surrounded by a large crowd of friends and family.

Dave Schmerzler and his wife, Donna.

David was a man of diverse and contradicting talents. He considered himself an athlete because, he often said, “I played high school sports.” He was an avid hunter, an accomplished chef, a fantastic skier who spent many winters with family and friends in Stowe, Vermont, a squash player, and a lover of a good cigar.

A long-time member of The Patterson Club, and president of the club at the time of his passing, he loved to play golf, especially with his son Matt. The day before his death, he and Matt won the club invitational Championship! David called it one of the best days of his life.

David’s friendships were extensive and expansive.  He enjoyed the company and camaraderie of a very large circle of close and loving friends, with deeply personal relationships that spanned decades.

His sense of humor was infectious and well-known, his zest for life unquenchable. A long-time friend called him the captain of a crew that was formed in elementary school. David and Donna’s list of friends is endless; the depth of their devotion to each other unique.

David is survived by his wife Donna and children Emily and Matthew; his loving and devoted dog Otis; his mother Barbara Schmerzler; his brothers Alan, Robert and Daniel; sisters-in-law Michelle Schmerzler, Laura Ballan Schmerzler Shawnie Billic and Sharon Taussig; nephews and nieces Alex Schmerzler, Sydney Schmerzler, Charlie and Libby Schmerzler, and Isabella and Alexandra Pisacane, and his father-in law Donald Taussig. He was predeceased by his mother-in-law Marilyn Davis.

David was a larger than life character who charmed all. His stories made tears run down cheeks; his laughter and love were infectious. He was brash, zany, tough and brave, but most of all he overflowed with love and humanity. He was taken far too soon, and will be missed deeply and beyond words.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Staples Tuition Grants – the David L. Schmerzler Memorial Scholarship, the Appalachia Service Project, or The Patterson Scholarship Fund.

A celebration of David’s life will be held this Sunday (July 7, 11:30 a.m., Fairfield County Hunt Club).

Food Rescue US — And Trader Joe’s — Deliver

Sunday’s storm devastated parts of Westport. One house was demolished; a Staples graduate was killed by a falling tree in Fairfield.

Yet in the midst of tragedy, rays of light shined through. Nicole Straight — Fairfield County site director of Food Rescue US, the app that uses volunteer drivers to move fresh, usable food that would be thrown away by restaurants and grocers, to shelters, kitchens and pantries — tells “06880” of one such story.

At 6 p.m. Sunday she was in New York, enjoying the Pride parade. The manager of Trader Joe’s texted. Their power was out — and they did not want to waste all the food that might go bad.

Nicole created a Facebook ask. Within minutes 5 Food Rescue US volunteers said they’d help.

One of the many Food Rescue deliveries.

They delivered food to Westport’s Gillespie shelter, and the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk. It was Sunday night; they were 2 of the few agencies that were open.

Yesterday morning, the Trader Joe’s manager called again. He had still more usable food. Four more volunteers quickly brought it to several local organizations.

Christy Colasurdo was one of those food rescuers. She says, “It was sad to see Trader Joe’s empty freezers. But it was wonderful to know that all that food that would have been tossed has been used.

“The Gillespie Center and other places were thrilled with the crate of frozen organic chicken, gourmet ravioli and breakfast foods. They said Food Rescuers had made 4 stops there today.

“Trader Joe’s could have taken the easy route and dumped everything. But they have big hearts. They always turn to Food Rescue US when they have surplus.”

(Food Rescue US-Fairfield County is the beneficiary of a special fundraiser. “Pools, Patios, Pergolas, a Luxury Tasting Event” — hosted by KMS Partners at Compass — is set for 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, 5 pm to 9 pm. Several Westport properties will showcase their pools, patios or pergolas. Each features a different award-winning caterer and specially designed drinks. Click here for tickets.)

Storm Sequel: Police Report Road Closures

As cleanup and repairs continue after yesterday’s storm, the Westport Police Department urges residents to stay home. They say: “If you must be on the road, please drive with caution. Do not attempt to go around police tape and/or barricades.

“Please be considerate of these conditions during your morning commute. Allow for extra time, as damage has been extensive.”

These roads are still closed:

  • Long Lots Lane
  • 1 Long Lots Road
  • 30 Long Lots Road
  • Long Lots Road at Morningside Drive North
  • 30 Morningside Drive South
  • Spicer Court at Spicer Road
  • 6 Clapboard Hill Road
  • 235 Greens Farms Road
  • 245 Greens Farms Road
  • 23 Hillandale Road

The WPD also reminds Westporteres to treat every downed wire as if it were live, even if it does not appear to be energized.

Power outage reports, general outage questions, or non-emergency issues associated with electrical repairs should be directed to Eversource: 800-286-2000.

This Colony Road home sustained a direct hit from a tree during yesterday’s storm. One resident sustained minor injuries. The house was declared uninhabitable. (Photo/Westport Fire Department)

Staples Grad Killed In Storm

The immensity of yesterday’s violent storm became clear, as word spread that 2 people were killed in the tri-state area.

One of the victims was Fairfield resident Dave Schmerzler. The 54-year-old graduate of Staples High School’s Class of 1983 was driving on the Fairfield side of Sturges Highway at 2:16 p.m., when a large tree limb pierced the car. He died at Norwalk Hospital an hour later.

Schmerzler’s wife, former Staples classmate Donna Taussig Schmerzler, was next to him. She suffered minor injuries. Their adult daughter, in the back seat, was not injured.

Schmerzler — a graduate of Syracuse University — grew up in Westport. Many friends are still here.

“The tragedy is immense,” one said. “Three seconds later, he would have missed it.”

Dave Schmerzler and his wife, Donna.