Westport’s Emergency Management Response Team says:
The Department of Public Works has made great progress opening up approximately 40% of the 294 roads that were closed. Last evening they reopened Saugatuck Avenue so that police, fire, and EMS can access Saugatuck Shores without having to pass through East Norwalk.
Part of the standard for restoration is the “Make Safe” program. Town highway crews are paired with Eversource crews to reopen streets blocked by downed trees and power lines. Once the power company verifies that the electricity is off to the downed wires, Public Works crews can then safely remove trees, branches and debris to open the streets. Streets with no secondary access are prioritized so that emergency vehicles can gain access.
Power cannot be safely restored until all the trees are cleared. Unfortunately, this process may take days. There can be no official estimates for when power may be restored while the Make Safe process is ongoing. However, once the next phase begins, more accurate data will be available to provide estimates on times and areas of restoration.
1st Selectman Jim Marpe adds:
I have been in direct contact with Eversource and our legislators about the Eversource response and its expected time frame for restoration, demanding accurate estimates from Eversource for their remaining restoration efforts. Governor Lamont has also stepped in to demand a better response from Eversource.
In an effort to manage expectations regarding estimates of power restoration time, be aware that this storm has created as much electrical infrastructure damage as Super Storm Sandy 8 years ago. Power restoration for some customers in that event took many days. We understand everyone’s frustration with even a day without power, so we will push Eversource in every way possible to speed the process, without compromising safety.
We are also aware of the challenges with sporadic to non-existent WiFi, internet and cell service. We have been in contact with executives at major carriers, including AT&T, Wireless and Verizon. Cell towers and antennae require commercial power to operate. As a result, they are also affected by the massive outage. The representatives assured us that they are working on temporary solutions to gain some level of service, but ultimately they, like all of us, rely on full restoration by Eversource before they may achieve full capability.
The town is working on establishing locations for public device charging stations. Seniors age 60 or over can charge their devices on the outside of the Senior Center weekdays between 8:30 and 4:30 p.m. Outdoor public Wi-Fi can be accessed at the train station houses, outside of Town Hall and outside the Westport Library.
Yesterday, there were technical issues that prevented broadcasting on WWPT. Those issues have been resolved. I encourage residents to tune in to 90.3 FM radio for information and guidance during this emergency.
While safety remains our utmost concern, we suggest that residents remain at home after dark given that downed wires are harder to be seen at night. Furthermore, traffic lights continue to be out of service and all intersections must be approached as if a stop sign was there.
Please do not remove caution tape or barricades from roadways; they are there for your safety. If tape or barricades are removed prematurely, personnel must reattach it, taking time away from other vital activities. Exercise extreme caution if out walking, cycling or jogging on the roadways and sidewalks, since many remain blocked by limbs and wires.
We appreciate your continued patience and cooperation as we work effectively and efficiently to address the issues associated with this event. 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 the storm aftermath.
Update on Westport Parks & Recreation:
Town beaches are open, but will close at 8:30 p.m. in an effort to keep people off the roads after dark. Longshore golf course and tennis courts remain closed as clean-up continues and there is no electricity. Access will be available to the ER Strait Marina, Longshore Sailing School and the Pearl restaurant. Please note that due to the lack of power, fuel is not available at either marina.
Athletic fields are open with the exception of Town Farms and Coleytown Elementary School fields. For updates on those fields, check with Westport Little League.
Other park facilities that are open include Winslow Park, Machamux Park, Grace Salmon Park, Luciano Park, Eloise Ray Park, Pasacreta Park, Jesup Green and Veterans Green.
The Staples, Town Farms and Doubleday tennis courts are open for play. Other parks will be opened once damage has been assessed and the area is deemed safe. Please do not enter a park if it has been closed off.
For your safety and the well-being of others:
Only call 911 for true medical emergencies.
Check on your neighbors.
Stay at least 25 feet from downed power lines.
· 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.
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.
Sign up for Emergency Notifications by registering at www.nixle.com, or texting 06880 to 888777 from your mobile phone