Category Archives: Weather

Pics Of The Day #1219

Yesterday’s downpour lasted less than an hour.

That was enough to cause some Main Street flooding. Early this morning, the road was still soaked.

Susan Iseman was downtown at 7:30 a.m. A truck sped through, nearly soaking her.

(Photo/Susan Iseman)

But the rain did not bother these kids, who kept their Juniper Road street hockey game going.

Mark Mathias was as happy to watch them as they were to play.

“I’m glad to see that life is somewhat normal,” he says. “Kids in the street, not caring about the weather because they’re having a blast.”

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

Isiais: By The Numbers

Ten days after Tropical Storm Isaias ravaged our town, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, the Department of Public Works and Westport Emergency Response Team report:

The Westport Fire Department responded to 581 incidents, almost 500% of their normal call volume. WFD also responded to at least 30 carbon monoxide incidents, the first time the department received so many calls of this type. In response, the WFD and the Fire Marshal have been increasing their education and outreach regarding the proper usage of generators.

From 1 p.m. Tuesday, August 4 through 1 a.m. Wednesday, the Westport Police Department logged 230 calls for service. 155 of them came at the height of the storm, 2 p.m.. Over the following 24 hours, the WPD answered 779 phone calls, 284 of them on the 911 line. The department also deployed temporary traffic control signage at around 15 major intersections throughout the course of the storm.

The Department of Public Works cleared 304 tree issues. They continue their cleaning debris from 125 miles of town-owned roadways, in addition to all town-owned Parks and Recreation facilities. The DPW expects to spend 2 weeks cleaning up town property, most of which could not commence until Eversource cleared and de-energized their wires.

DPW’s role is to remove trees and debris from the town’s right of way. DPW is not doing curbside pick-up of yard waste. Residents should not put personal yard waste and debris curbside. The town’s Yard Waste Site at 180 Bayberry Lane is open for personal yard debris. Normal hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to noon. Tomorrow (August 15), the yard waste site stays open until 3 p.m.

The Department of Human Services worked around the clock, in collaboration with emergency personnel, to address storm-related concerns from upwards of 400 households. DHS received over 150 calls and emails, and made over 40 home visits for welfare checks and/or provide food service.

Westport’s Department of Human Services brought food, water (and toilet paper) to elderly residents trapped behind this tree on Rocky Ridge Road.

If you have a vulnerable resident in the home, or know seniors who live alone or whose main caregiver is also elderly, register that individual with the DHS. Call 203-341-1073, so the department can proactively follow up with him or her during future emergencies.

The number of town-wide emails and phone calls received is over triple the normal volume. Town personnel collaborated and triaged those responses as quickly as possible. In addition, emergency and general information was dispersed via Nixle alerts, daily press releases, social media posts and through the town radio station, WWPT 90.3FM.

Residents can stay connected with the town by signing up for emergency alerts and press notifications, and following the town on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Residents are urged to preset their radio to 90.3 FM in case of emergency.

As part of emergency incident standard procedures, the Town Emergency Operations Command Team will debrief and discuss the process, protocols and communications that occurred during Isaias. Each member will make recommendations for improved procedures during future emergency incidents.

Marpe adds: “There were many examples of neighbors helping neighbors and people stepping up to help in the midst of the emergency. Most Westporters came together and demonstrated resilience and an inherent capacity to help those around them. I want to express my deepest gratitude to those residents and town employees who exhibited patience, cooperation and understanding under very trying circumstances.”

The night after 98% of Westport lost power, an impromptu concert popped up on Jesup Green. (Photos/Miggs Burroughs)

Roundup: Staples High School, Book Sales, Eversource, Landmark Preschool, More


“06880” seldom reports “survey” results. Best Nail Salon in Fairfield County, Greatest Towns for Beach Strolling — those stories land in my inbox every day. Clickbait, all of them.

But I’ll make an exception for this one. It comes from a legit source — and it involves one of our town jewels.

USA Today just published a list of the best public high school in every state. Criteria included student and parent survey responses, teacher absenteeism, standardized test scores, and other measures of academic performance.

The Connecticut representative — complete with a handsome photo — is Staples.

Congratulations to all. At a time of so much educational uncertainty, it’s great to get even a glimmer of good news.

Staples High School. (Photo/Jennifer Kobetitsch)


The Westport Library Book Sale lost its spring and summer dates. But they sold “book bundles” online — and that encouraged them to open an online book store.
that it has opened an online book store.

They’re opening with a curated selection of “Surprise Book Bundles”: used books and CDs in various categories, for adults and children. More categories and items will be added soon. Click here to “enter” the store.

Purchases are available for pickup, by appointment, within 7 to 10 days after purchase, at the library’s upper parking lot.

The Westport Library Book Sale is operated by Westport Book Sale Ventures, a
nonprofit enterprise that supports the library, while providing employment for adults with disabilities.


During Tropical Storm Isaias, Frank Accardi got tired of seeing this message:

“OUTAGE UPDATE: Eversource crews are working hard to safely restore power as quickly as possible. While we always provide the best information possible, sometimes we may need additional time to provide our estimated times of restoration.”

He suggests this replacement, for customers to send after receiving their next bill:

“PAYMENT UPDATE: Westport families are working hard to safely restore solvency as quickly as possible. While we always provide the best information possible, sometimes we may need additional time to provide our estimated time of financial recompense to Eversource.”


Landmark Preschool in Westport reports that 23 new students have enrolled since June. While the school on Burr Road provides in-classroom learning, it also provides “parallel remote learning” from home, via classroom cameras and monitors.

Students will stay in small cohorts; hand washing will be increased, and ventilation improved; there will be additional cleaning crews and disinfecting foggers; faculty and staff will be given special training, and every teacher will be provided a special COVID sanitation kit, and clear face masks so youngsters will not miss visual cues.


And finally … folk/Latin/rockabilly singer Trini Lopez died this week, from complications of COVID-19. He was 83.


 

[OPINION] Disaster Planning Is Imperative

Larry Perlstein is a long-time Westport resident, and Staples High School graduate. He cares full-time for his wife and 12-year-old daughter, and authors a blog for caregivers

This is a rant. I hope this does not provoke ire. I’m not pointing a finger at anyone, any government or any specific company. But I am in the midst of unprecedented craziness between the pandemic, the storm, the heat wave, etc. My emotions are running wild, so please hear me out — and be civil.

Can we all agree that disaster planning in general is a disaster? Having lived in Westport or nearby since 1970 (minus 10 years in the San Francisco Bay Area), I notice we recover quickly after a storm only when we are lucky — not because we were prepared.

For example, I live near a road that is a nightmare after any significant storm. Isaias brought down 5 or 6 large trees. Eversource regularly trims the trees, and owners of the multi-million-dollar houses take good care of their properties. But it’s to no avail. The road gets battered. There’s no taming Mother Nature, and no guessing what damage might occur.

Days after Isaias, Avery Place remained blocked by downed wires and limbs. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

After each storm we hear the same complaints, and go through the same discussions: The forecast was wrong. The utilities were slow to respond. The governor is angry at the utilities. The town was hardest hit and angry at the utilities. The people living on private roads (60% of Westport) don’t get enough attention from the town. Utility, cable and phone support lines are overloaded or non-existent. People ignore warnings to avoid downed lines. And so on.

In my case, 3 trees fell. They took down all my power, cable and phone lines, and blocked my driveway. I called the police non-emergency number 2 days after the storm, alerting them that wires were down across my road, and that my family (including my disabled wife and 12-year-old daughter) were essentially trapped in the house.

Larry Perlstein and his wife Jacquie.

The response was disheartening. The officer said it wasn’t worth putting tape across the road because people tear it down or drive over it, and they did not have any lists of contractors or individuals who might be able to cut us out. Basically, it is what it is.

Thankfully I had a generator and gas. A neighbor helped me find a great tree company. After 2 days, we extricated oruselves.

I suggest that we stop thinking we can develop grand disaster plans, and instead focus on practical strategies that will improve our resilience.

Here’s a list of services that the state and town might provide that would be useful after a storm. I’m sure some of these things exist, and some might be impossible. But we should use this as a starting point:

  • Police and fire departments should have access to a list of tree and electrical contractors that can be provided to homeowners. The list should include those willing to donate services for low-income households.
  • Town emergency messages should include areas/roads to avoid, gas stations and grocery stores that are open, cell services that are impacted, and outage reporting numbers for Eversource, Optimum, Frontier, etc.
  • The state should provide low-interest loans or grants to acquire and install generators for families with disabled or elderly members, and critical facilities and businesses such as senior centers, gas stations and grocery markets.
  • The state should offer emergency relief for homeowners with significant tree damage. Most homeowner insurance plans offer only $500 for a tree that might cost $2500+ to take down. California offers earthquake insurance. Why can’t Connecticut have tree damage insurance?

Tree damage from storms is an ongoing concern. (Photo/C. Swan)

  • The town should have backup generator capability for critical cell towers. Thank god for my good old Frontier copper landline that kept working even with my lines down.
  • The state should regulate Altice’s internet business to ensure accelerated investment in maintaining/upgrading existing infrastructure, and monitor their storm response. I never did find a way to report an outage.
  • Local radio stations such as WICC, WEBE, and WEZN should be enlisted to provide road closure and other emergency information, and someone should figure out what the “Emergency Alert System” can actually be used for. I continued to hear tests on my battery powered radio, but no actual alerts.
  • The town’s Department of Human Services should be sufficiently staffed (with volunteers if necessary) to handle incoming requests for support, and proactive outreach to the voluntary disability registry. Volunteer groups that provided amazing support during the early days of the pandemic should be coordinated by this office to supply gas, food, water, etc., to households unable to do it themselves.

Many more things can be done, but I’ve tried to keep the list reasonable. Having watched and participated in the volunteer efforts that sprang up after the start of the pandemic, I’m certain that with a little centralized organization and some political will on behalf of the town and state, we can make recovery from storms more palatable.

One last note: While our state and local representatives rake Eversource over the coals (again), I urge everyone to remember that the workers who fix our problems have likely left their own families in the middle of their own problems. These folks are our current heroes. I can’t wait to hug one of those heroes (from a distance) when my power gets restored.

A crew from Canada connects Westport to the world. (Photo/Doerte Inett)

One More Post-Storm Update: Get A Refund! Don’t Kill Yourself!

This afternoon, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, the Department of Public Works and Westport’s Emergency Response Team provided this information. It Includes power outages (including Optimum TV), and safety and food tips.

Most roads are passable. But some may be detoured if crews are in the area clearing debris.

Currently 0.32 percent, or approximately 41, of Westport’s Eversource customers are without power. Those customers, and others with specific outage issues are being addressed as quickly as possible.

  • Due to the heat wave and for those in need, the cooling center at Greens Farms Elementary School is open now until 5 p.m. Wear a face covering, and maintain social distance recommendations.
  • Homeowners should contact electricians to manage individual issues, such as wires that were pulled from the home or electrical panels. A certified electrician must re-attach those wires. Neither Eversource nor town DPW crews are qualified to service individual home electric panels.

(Photo/Wendy Cusick)

Cable and internet service

If your power has been restored but your cable/internet access remains down, please contact your provider. Those providers rely upon electrical restoration or pole re-installation before their services can be addressed. Some fiber cables have been compromised. Town officials are also in contact with providers to encourage facilitation of those services.

Optimum (also known as Cablevision/Altice) says that teams have been deployed around the clock restoring services as quickly as possible. The percentage of customers in Connecticut without Optimum service due to the storm has fallen from more than 44% to less than 4% today.

Optimum offers these restoration tips:

If you lost power, restart your equipment using these steps:

  • Unplug your equipment from its power source.
  • Wait 30 seconds.
  • Plug your equipment back into the power source

If your service does not return after restarting, it is possible that:

  • The power that feeds the network in your area comes from a different commercial power source than the power that feeds your home or business location, or there is another issue relating to network power that needs to be addressed. Optimum is coordinating with electric companies to identify these issues and ensure prioritization of repair or restoration.
  • There is damage to the Optimum network, like a downed utility pole or wire break. Crews are working to rectify this type of damage.

To check on service status:

  • Go to optimum.net/support/outage  Sign in with your Optimum ID and password. Next, under Support (upper right corner), click “Service status.”

To report service issues:

To request a credit, click here: optimum.net/support/request-a-credit

Safety Information:

Homeowners are often seriously injured trying to do their own post-storm cleanup work.

  • Consider consulting a professional before undertaking any major restoration or tree / large limb removal.
  • Do not use a chain saw if you are not experienced in properly and safely operating it, or if you are not physically fit.  If you must use a chainsaw, work only on the ground, not in a tree.
  • Use extreme caution with ladders.
  • Stay safe in hot weather; hydrate; pace yourself.
  • The Westport yard waste site on Bayberry Lane is open fto discard tree limbs and branches.

Food safety reminders: 

  • Any food remaining in a refrigerator or freezer during the outage should be considered contaminated. Do not rely upon appearance or smell to determine if it is safe to consume. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • When power comes back on, clean out your refrigerator and freezer before putting new food in it. Wash the inside of the refrigerator and freezer with soap and warm water, then wipe with a mild solution of ½ tablespoon bleach in a gallon of water. Keep doors open to allow to dry. Once dry, allow the unit to get cold before placing food inside.

Unsung Heroes #155

This one’s a no-brainer.

It’s been 8 days since tropical storm Isaias hammered our homes.

Power is still out in some spots. WiFi, cable and phone service may take longer.

But as we look back on the past week, our town is filled with heroes. If you are …

  • A first responder (police, fire, EMT…) who fielded hundreds of calls
  • A second responder, like the Community Emergency Response Team
  • An Eversource worker — or one that the utility outsourced, who drove for hours to get here — and worked tirelessly, in dangerous conditions, sometimes bearing the brunt of residents’ frustrations with Eversource’s highly paid higher-ups
  • A Department of Public Works worker, who made seemingly impassable roads passable
  • A landscaper or tree guy, who had more work than you ever dreamed of from regular customers, but still found time to help homeowners in dire straits who desperately flagged you down

To the rescue! (Photo/C. Swan)

  • A Human Services Department employee, who did way-beyond-the-job-description things like delivering food and water (and toilet paper!) to stranded seniors
  • Nate Gibbons, the fire inspector who provided sane, soothing and life-saving advice on a continuous WWPT-FM loop
  • The staff of the Westport Library, who made sure the generator stayed on so that (literally) thousands of residents could access WiFi, (literally) 24/7

A small part of the large WiFi crowd. (Photo/Miggs Burroughs)

  • A Westporter who helped a neighbor (or stranger) in any way: offering charging or a hot shower; clearing brush; providing food or shelter or a shoulder to cry or vent on — or anything else
  • A restaurant, deli or market owner, who somehow saved or scavenged food, kept it cold or heated it up, and somehow found a way to serve or sell it
  • A Parks & Recreation Department staffer, who got our parks and recreation facilities cleaned up quickly — a take-your-mind-off-your-woes lifesaver for many, especially over the weekend
  • A town official who fielded countless urgent calls, pleas and requests, along with tons of demands and questions; dealt with impossible-to-deal with utility representatives; got the ear of the governor, senators, our congressman and state legislators; kept everyone as safe as possible — and did it all during a pandemic, while also planning for (hey, why not?!) a primary election

… then you are our Heroes of the Day.

I know I’ve missed plenty of categories. Apologies in advance. Feel free to add your own Heroes; click “Comments” below.

Roundup: Kayak Tacos, Roads, Library, Remarkable Movies, More


If you’re stressed — and between COVID-19, Isaias, the state of the nation and the world, who isn’t? — you can talk to a shrink. You can take it out on your spouse or kids.

Or you can spend an hour or two on the Saugatuck River, on a kayak or paddle board.

For relaxation (and cost), I’ll take the water. On these hot August days, there is nothing like a leisurely (or harder workout) paddle up toward downtown, or down toward Long Island Sound.

And one of the most popular places to do it is Westport Paddle Club.

The facility — at Bridgebrook Marina, on Riverside Avenue between the VFW and Saugatuck Rowing Club — has quickly become the go-to place for rentals, group activities, and a very popular summer camp for kids.

Now there’s more. Last night was the first “Taco Tuesday” in the parking lot by the dock (near the palm tree).

A taco truck will be there every Tuesday, from 5 to 7 p.m. A nice breeze, the calming river, fun food — you won’t care about the pandemic, a tropical storm, or anything else.

Westport Paddle Club owner Robbie Guimond (left), with employees and Staples High School seniors George Smith and Jack Douglas, at the taco truck.


As of early this morning, 98 Westport customers still lack electricity. That’s 0.78% of the town — meaning Eversource met their promise of 99% by Tuesday midnight.

The utility notes that a derecho storm that caused nearly a million outages in the Midwest caused some crews from those states to be called home to restore power there. Just think of those drives those workers had, getting here and back — and the work they do, here and there.

Eversource says, “at this time, we do not expect this to impact our restoration process” across Connecticut.

However, Jeff Jacobs takes issue with Eversource and the town’s announcement that all Westport roads are now passable.

Kings Highway South is closed just below Birchwood Country Club.

Finally yesterday, a barrier — mostly traffic cones — was erected at the junction of Kings Highway and Treadwell Avenue. There are still no signs or barriers at Post Road West, however, so drivers keep coming. And keep turning around.

Meanwhile, as Westport’s cleanup continues, residents — including David Meth — remain concerned about a utility pole in a very visible spot.

It rests on cables attached to another utility pole across from Willowbrook Cemetery, near the Main Street/Cross Highway split.

“If it crashes, it will pull down all the cables and then some,” David says. “I spoke to 2 Eversource workers nearby. One said he would take a look. The result: nothing.”

(Photo/David Meth)


Today marks the Westport Library’s return to normal — that is, COVID-normal — hours. Curbside pickup is available weekdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The building is open for browsing and staff support weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

Beginning this Monday (August 17), appointments are recommended for the Children’s Library.

A family (or cohort of up to 5 people) will have the Children’s Library to themselves for 30 minutes. If they leave before their 30 minutes are up, walk-ins can book the remaining time.

Click here to reserve an appointment for the Children’s Room.


The Longshore golf course reopened today. The tennis courts will be back tomorrow (Thursday, August 13), after reconditioning.

Some of the damage on the Longshore golf course. (Photo/Brian Sikorski)


Next up in the Remarkable Theater’s remarkable summer drive-in movie series at the Imperial Avenue parking lot: “The Jungle Game” (Thursday, August 13), “Thelma and Louise” (Friday, August 14) and “School of Rock” (Saturday, August 15).

The lot opens at 7:45 p.m. Movies begin around 8:45. Tickets are $50 per car. Click here to reserve a spot, and for more information.

Last night, Darren Spencer and his family made their first trip to the pop-up series. He reports:

“It was a balmy evening in the parking lot with 49 other cars, but you would not have known it.  Tuned in to 90.9 FM with clear audio and a brilliant screen, it made for a memorable evening.

“Thank you, Remarkable Theater, for breathing life into Westport in these uncertain and unusual times, and for turning what used to be unremarkable before the pandemic into the truly remarkable. And to Westport Town officials, I let’s ensure we turn this into a Westport institution every summer for many years to come!”

(Photo/Darren Spencer)


Still need a place to work? Serendipity Labs —  the co-working space which opened at 55 Post Road West just a month before COVID hit — is offering complimentary day passes for the first visit.  Click here to learn more.

Serendipity Labs, 55 Post Road West


Many voters in yesterday’s Democratic and Republican primaries sent ballots by mail. But those who ventured to the one polling place in town — Bedford Middle School — gave high marks to local officials.

Everyone working wore masks. They hand voters plastic gloves. They strictly enforced the 6-foot rule. And — though you couldn’t see them — they did it all with smiles.

It’s not easy voting in the midst of a pandemic, right after a treacherous storm. In Westport at least, we proved we can multi-task. On to November 3!


First, an outdoor volleyball court popped up at the old Save the Children property on Wilton Road.

Now there’s a floating water polo game in the waters off Compo Beach.

Click “Comments” if you know what’s next.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)


And finally … you may not recognize the name Wayne Fontana. The lead singer of the Mindbenders died last week in England, at 74. But if you’re a certain age, you probably remember his signature song:

Giving Thanks, For …

Today is the day nearly every Westporter is supposed to have power.

Of course, we are all supposed to wear masks, maintain social distance, and walk facing traffic too. So I’m not holding my breath.

But as someone who did get the juice back Saturday afternoon, I know the feeling of flipping a switch, and watching lights actually come on.

Not to mention the joy of a hot shower, a cold freezer, a phone that shows 4 bars and a computer that connects to the internet.

A crew from Canada connects us to the world. (Photo/Doerte Inett)

Of all of those things, I think that last one — being able to send emails, read the news, and post to “06880” without a jury-rigged tin cup and wire — is the most important to me. It may say something about my values, or life in Westport in 2020, but of all the things I can’t live without, connectivity tops the list.

What about you? What did you miss most in the long days after Isaias? What was the first thing you did after all those lights, appliances and things you never realized need electricity clicked on?

What did you learn — about yourself, your family and your town — over the past week?

Click “Comments” to share. It’s easy, now that we are back to normal.

Or as normal as things get, in this year we will never forget.

Roundup: Library, Winfield Deli, Wedding, More


The Westport Library — the town’s savior after tropical storm Isaias, thanks to its life-giving free WiFi available on Jesup Green and in the upper parking lot — reopened yesterday, primarily for device-charging and internet access.

The great space looked different. Users wore masks, and were spaced far apart. Most “touch surfaces” are unavailable.

But it was another godsend for Westporters. No one complained.

The library will be open again today from 12 noon to 6 p.m., for browsing and device-charging. There is curbside service from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

(Photo/Lauren MacNeill)


As soon as Breno Donatti’s phone camera alerted him last night that the power was back on at Winfield Street Coffee, the owner hustled to his Post Road West deli.

He and his staff spent hours cleaning the store, and calling vendors to get deliveries this morning.

“We hope customers hang in there. We may not have some items, but we’re replacing all of the food inventory.”

What a year this has been, for small businesses like Winfield Street. And what great lengths they go to serve us, whenever and however they can.


Because of COVID, it was already going to be a smaller scale wedding than expected. Then Isaias blew in.

But love conquers all. Despite the devastation (and lack of power), Tammy Barry’s nephew Nicholas married Audrey here on Friday evening.

It was intimate. It was beautiful. It was “love”-ly.

Life may be dark. But we can always find silver linings.


The other day, “06880” ran a photo of signs at the Colony Road/Pumpkin Hill intersection, pleading for Eversource post-Isaias help.

Yesterday, the signs changed. As the one on the left noted, they are now “signs of happiness.”

(Photo/Wendy Cusick)


Meanwhile, I’m not sure if this sign predates Isaias, or has been up for a while. But its message is powerful.

The free masks are equally helpful too.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)


And finally …

Pics Of The Day #1210

How did you spend your post-Isaias Day 5?

Doerte Inett’s family was visited by a “fantastic crew” from Nova Scotia. They took care of a tree that fell on the power line on their Sturges Highway property — and restored power. Their 10-month old supervised, from the screen porch. 

Cleaning up in the Old Mill neighborhood (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Pleading for help off North Avenue (Photo/Ed Paul)

A few smiles at the Colony Road/Pumpkin Hill intersection (Photo/Christie Stanger)

Flying kites at Sherwood Island State Park (Photo/Ilene Mirkine)

This was the scene late today, at the corner of Fairport Road and Westfair Drive (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

The traffic light works at Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza. But Avery Place is still blocked by downed wires and limbs. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)