Category Archives: Weather

Pics Of The Day #338

Celebrating the first full day of spring!

Beachside Avenue (Photo/David Squires)

Grace Salmon Park (Photo/Doris Ghitelman)

Compo cannons (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

Longshore (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Bring It On!

Last Tuesday — as Westport braced for our 3rd nor’easter in 2 weeks — shoppers did their usual bread, milk and eggs thing.

By early afternoon, supermarket shelves were bare.

That storm barely touched us.

Today — with yet another storm bearing down — the scene at Trader Joe’s was quite different. An hour ago, it looked like just another day.

I guess Westporters aren’t worried —  even though the latest forecast warns of up to 18 inches of heavy, wet snow.

Or else we’ve stockpiled so much food from the last 3 panic buying sprees, there’s no room for any more.

BONUS FUN FACT: Spring arrived today at 12:15 p.m.

Hurricane Irma, Long After The Storm: A Westport Native Reports

“News of St. John” is a blog about St. John, in the US Virgin Islands. Sort of an “06880” for 00830.

Since September — when Hurricane Irma devastated much of the Caribbean — “News of St. John” has had plenty to blog about.

So when blogmaster Jenn Manes described “A Very Powerful Story About Hurricane Irma and St. John” as “the most powerful article” she has read about the disaster, readers took notice.

Writer Devin O’Neil watched from a distance as 200-mile-an-hour winds battered the island where he grew up.

But O’Neil also has Westport ties. He writes:

My fraternal twin brother Sean and I were 5 years old when our mom Christie decided she was tired of commuting from Westport, Connecticut, to New York City. So in December 1985 she and her boyfriend bought a 41-foot sailboat named Yahoo. We packed everything we owned into 19 duffel bags, and headed south.

St. John, half of which is covered by Virgin Islands National Park, offered singular beauty—and plenty of places to anchor our new floating home. Mom took a job as a landscaper in Fish Bay and eventually got her real estate license.

Devon O’Neil (right) with his brother Sean and mom Christie. (Photo/Steve Simonsen Photography)

Sean and I fell in with a rat pack of kids who congregated after school to play tackle football, catch tarantulas and lizards, and crawl under barroom floors in search of quarters. We grew up boogie boarding and surfing on the south shore. One day we took turns reeling in a 350-pound shark, next door in the British Virgin Islands.

Fish Bay sounds nothing like Compo Beach.

Devon writes lovingly of his carefree childhood, and movingly of the storm: the frightening fear of living through it, and what he saw when he returned 2 months later. (Spoiler alert: Richard Branson compared the damage to a nuclear strike.)

It’s a long piece. But — long after Hurricane Irma has faded from our mainland consciousness — this strong story by a Westport native is well worth reading. Click here for the full link.

(O’Neil’s story was originally printed in Outside Magazine. Extremely alert “06880” reader Regina Masterson spotted it on “News of St. John.”)

One small part of Hurricane Irma’s impact on St. John, US Virgin Islands.

Thinking About Trees

Alert — and worried — “06880” reader Jane Nordli writes:

The story of Victoria Gouletas — the woman hit by the falling tree limb — is so sad.

And it raises an important question, though I don’t know if there is an answer.

Our trees have become dangerous, literally. Most of my neighbors’ yards were littered with branches and limbs from last week’s storm. Our next door neighbors are renters, so I don’t know when their mess will be cleaned up.

But the trees separating our property are ginormous, and terrify me. The yard is full of downed limbs — big ones. If just one of those trees came down, it would crush my house.

More than a week after the March 7 nor’easter, yards are still littered with tree limbs.

Should something be done to prevent another horrendous accident from happening?

A few years ago, someone was killed in their car here by a falling tree. Do other communities with gigantic mature trees do anything to protect their citizens? Is it a stupid question to ask?

I have some big trees as well, so I’m not casting aspersions. I hear the buzz saws going every day, so I know the tree guys (and gals) are cutting away and chipping the dozens of fallen branches, sections of trees, giant limbs and so on.

I don’t know that there is anything we can do but put up with the mess, and the possible heartbreaking harm to ourselves.

But if anyone has an idea, let’s hear it.

Many of Westport’s trees fall close to homes. Some fall on them. (Photos/Jane Nordli Jessep)

Unsung Hero: Special Edition

Sure, “06880” salutes Westport’s Unsung Heroes every Wednesday. But this story is so important, it can’t wait.

Like many Westporters, Lori Kosut was stricken but inspired by the story of Victoria Gouletas — the Zoning Board of Appeals member paralyzed during last week’s nor’easter, when she was struck by a large falling tree limb. (Click here for yesterday’s story, and link to GoFundMe.)

Every day since the tragedy, whenever Victoria’s husband Troy Burk returns from the hospital or their 3 kids come home from school, they see the branch. It’s a vivid and brutal reminder of how, in an instant, their family’s lives were changed.

This morning, Lori called Bert Porzio. The native Westporter owns Bert’s Tree Service. She asked if he could remove the branch that struck Victoria.

Of course, he said.

Bert Porzio, at work.

He headed right over to the Sturges Highway home.

And then he did a lot more.

Bert cleared every limb and broken tree that littered the yard.

But when Lori asked for a bill, he refused. Bert said, “It’s on me.”

Victoria and her family have a long road ahead. Fortunately, they’ll travel it with fellow Westporters like Bert Porzio.

Help Pours In For Westporter Paralyzed In Nor’easter

Somehow, in the swirl of news following last week’s nor’easter, this awful news was overlooked everywhere.

A week ago, as winds howled, Victoria Gouletas — a real estate attorney, and member of Westport’s Zoning Board of Appeals — was crushed when a large tree branch snapped. It hit her head and back, fracturing several bones in her neck, scapula and sternum.

Victoria Gouletas

The tree also broke her back, paralyzing her from the chest down. She has been told she will never walk again.

Victoria retains complete mental capacity, and can use her head, neck and arms. Doctors assure her family that, with intense physical therapy, she can regain her daily independence, care for herself and her family, drive her children to school and return to work full time.

Still, her life will be very different.

Victoria and her husband, Troy Burk, and their children Ana (10), Tafe (9) and Zoe (2½), love Westport. They have been touched by the outpouring of love and well wishes they have received from the community. Many people have offered to help.

Victoria is committed to her family, her town and her career. She is fiercely determined to live a full life, regaining as much mobility as her body will allow. She has vowed to work as hard as possible to beat the odds.

Victoria Gouletas, her husband Troy Burk and their kids.

However, her recovery will be a marathon, not a sprint. Out-of-pocket costs of retrofitting her life — while continuing to care for her family — will be immense and ongoing.

Upcoming expenses include a house renovation or relocation, vehicles to accommodate her limitations, ongoing nursing care, plus child care and housekeeping services.

A GoFundMe page was set up yesterday. The goal is $75,000. In less than 24 hours, it’s collected over $11,000.

Click here to contribute. The Gouletas and Burk families thank all for their support.

Pics Of The Day #330

It was panic time yesterday afternoon, as Westport’s 3rd nor’easter in less than 2 weeks got ready to roll.

The scene at Trader Joe’s was repeated all over town.

Seinfeld was right.

But he forgot to include bacon.

(Photos/Robin Gusick)



Groundhog Day!

I know, I know.

Groundhog Day was February 2. That’s a day when it should snow.

But Westporters are living in our own version of the Bill Murray movie. Every couple of days, it snows. And the wind blows.

It’s March 13. Daylight Savings Time has already begun. The first day of spring is a week from today.

Today’s snow follows the last storm so closely, many residents have not had time to clear all the damage from their yards.

This was the scene a few moments ago, on Highland Road off Bayberry Lane:

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

Sure. It’s beautiful.

But it would be a lot more beautiful if today was February 2.

[OPINION] Optimum: Not Optimal

Alert — and frustrated — “06880” reader Luisa Francoeur writes:

In the continuing storm saga, I wonder how many people have experienced problems with Optimum/Cablevision.

Over the years I have been quite pleased with their customer service. The online, chat and even telephone assistance  has been prompt, friendly and successful.

However, now that we have cable lines down on our street, it is another story.

If you call, the online menu is designed to funnel you into a robotic answer. Unless you know to stonewall and continue saying “representative,” there is no option to speak with a person. And the system they have does not acknowledge that any problems can occur outside with their lines.

Once I got into the queue, it was so long that they offered a callback. But when I called back, they asked me again to indicate by the keypad whether I was on the line, whether I needed to actually speak to a person, or if I wanted to cancel the call.

I pressed the number request — but it didn’t work. So I waited until the end of all those options — and it still did not work.

Finally they told me I had used up all the time they allow for an answer. Just like that, they ended the call.

Net result: no customer service at all.

“06880” has heard from other Optimum customers that when their cable went out, they could not contact any actual human being (though their call was “very important” to the company). Some customers may still not have service. If you’ve had a recent experience with Cablevision — positive or negative — click “Comments” below.

Moments after sending me the story above, an Optimum repair truck appeared on Luisa Francoeur’s road. That’s the good news. The bad news is, they were there to fix her neighbor’s cable problem — not her own.

Pic Of The Day #325

No power, no heat, no phone, no internet … no problem! Life was good at the Natural Playground off Weston Road today. (Photo/Bonnie Dubson)