Flooding and widespread, extensive power outages are the major concerns associated with Hurricane Sandy’s arrival to the Nutmeg State.
“Think of the worst occurrence you’ve ever seen in your area, and assume it’s going to be worse than that,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said during a press conference late Sunday morning.
Sunday morning’s conference was Malloy’s second update at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Hartford. A third will be held Sunday night at 6.
Malloy anticipates flooding could be the worst the state has seen in 70 years — mainly because of Sandy’s four high tides. The worst, which is expected late Monday night, is likely to push more water into Long Island Sound than the shoreline can handle.
Malloy said a bit of good news is that it doesn’t appear the storm will bring with it a ton of rain; however it will affect shoreline and waterfront communities. It is up to local municipalities to determine whether evacuations are necessary, Malloy said.
“If local officials have told you to evacuate, I urge you to heed their warnings,” Malloy said. “People living in low-lying areas and shoreline towns are taking their lives into their hands if they try to stay in their homes.”
Malloy urged residents to stay with friends and relatives who reside inland. He also said the state is prepared to take in people who have nowhere else to go. For the nearest emergency shelters, people can call 211 or visit 211ct.org.
School closings will also be determined by local school districts, Malloy said.
Malloy asked residents to make sure everything not implanted in the ground was taken indoors, that tubs were filled with water, and that people check on their neighbors, particularly senior citizens. He said 800 national guardsmen will be in state armories by the time the storm reaches land and that the Department of Public Health has been working with nursing homes. Some of the national guardsmen will be moved toward the shoreline today, Malloy said, adding the Norwalk Armory will be manned.
Since gasoline, generators and bottled water will be in high demand, Malloy said any merchants engaged in price gouging will be punished. He asked residents to be smart and show some decency toward others.
“As bad as the storm is likely to be, I have every confidence that the people of Connecticut will sustain the next 48 hours,” Malloy said. “We have been hit before. If we’re smart, we’ll get through the next 48 hours.”
He also said this is the time people should be making sure the gas tanks in their cars are full and that they have all they need to ride out the storm for the next 48 hours. In addition, the bus service in Connecticut at midnight will be terminated so equipment can be moved out of areas that might be flooded. Malloy said he would try to get more information out regarding public transportation during the 6 p.m. briefing.
Bill Quinlin, CL&P senior vice president, said crews have been preparing for high winds and flooding. “While we believe we are prepared, it’s important for our customers to understand we can’t prevent these widespread outages,” he said.
CL&P’s center in Berlin is fully activated, as are 13 storm centers around the state, Quinlin said. The company’s top priority today is making sure line workers are prepared to get to work. Quinlin said the company has resources and crews coming in from as far as Texas and Washington State.
CL&P has 1,060 line workers available today, and 500 tree workers will be available later today, Quinlin said. The company’s first priorities will be handling life threatening situations and making sure the roadways are safe. Quinlin said it will be several days after the storm before CL&P begins power restorations.
Jim Torgerson of United Illuminating said the company anticipates 70% of its customers will be out of power because of flooding. Crews are ready and he said there are more linemen and crews available now then at the height of Irene. Crews from Georgia and the West are coming in as well, he said.
Both utility men said before power restorations begin, roadways have to be cleared and damages have to be assessed. Once the storm passes and heavy winds die down, then they will put workers in the bucket trucks to fix lines and restore power.
“If you experience a power outage, call it in immediately,” Quinlin said. “If there are downed wires, stay away from those and call CL&P.”