A snow storm that has yet to fully reach Newtown as of late Thursday afternoon has town officials planning on locations for residents who may need to seek shelter should their homes lose electricity, and therefore heat.
The snow storm will keep Newtown under a Winter Weather Warning until at least 1 pm Friday. Forecasters are also predicting temperatures at or below zero, and wind chills bringing additional concerns. Connecticut has not seen these types of temperatures for more than 15 years.
An afternoon announcement from First Selectman Pat Llodra, her second of the day following one Thursday morning, says residents will be able to visit Newtown Municipal Center and Newtown Senior Center to warm up beginning Friday morning.
"The weather forecast is for extremely cold temperatures tonight through Saturday morning. Residents can come to the locations listed below to seek relief from the cold," said Mrs Llodra. She does encourage residents to "please call Friday morning before travelling to be sure the building is open."
The municipal center, at 3 Primrose Street within Fairfield Hills, will be open at 9 am Friday. Call Mrs Llodra's office, 203-270-4201; the Office of Emergency Management/Fire Marshal, 203-270-4370; or the Health District, 203-270-4291 for additional information.
In addition to taking care of themselves, residents are being asked to check on elderly or frail neighbors to be certain they are doing OK in this weather.
Governor Dannel Malloy held a press conference from the state's Emergency Operations Center in Hartford at 5 pm Thursday, just to offer an update to all of the state's residents. He also is working with a general prediction of 6-10 inches of snow across the state.
"We're certainly capable of handling something like that," said Gov Malloy. "The state has 632 trucks on the state roads right now. At 7 pm we're bringing in 200 contractors. I have little doubt that we can keep the roads relatively clear throughout this storm. We are urging people to stay off the roads tonight. Once you get home, stay home. If you don't need to be on any of our highways, please don't be on any of our highways."
CL&P has 140 crews, UL also has its crews avialable, just in case they are needed, said the governor. "This is a situation they think they can handle," he said.
It's the second part of this storm that has the governor concerned the most, he said. The temperatures that have Pat Llodra concerned was also on the mind of the governor Thurdsay afternoon.
"How cold it is supposed to be tonight, and then again tomorrow" is something to keep in mind, he said. "We are seeing single digit [temperature] numbers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire already. That cold weather is on its way here. In all likelihood we have not seen the kind of weather that we are going to see in the next couple of days in as many as 15 to 18 years.
"I will remind you that it was 2004 the last time we had zero degree temperatures," said Gov Malloy. "People are not used to this cold, and that is one of the things that we want to point out. That's why we activated our cold weather protocol much earlier today."
On January 1, Gov Malloy directed the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS), the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) to coordinate with 211 and Connecticut’s network of shelters to ensure that the state’s most vulnerable people are protected from the severe cold weather.
Under the state’s Severe Cold Weather Protocol, DEMHS activates its WebEOC communications network — an Internet-based system that allows local, regional and state emergency management officials and first responders to share up-to-date information about a variety of situations and conditions. The system is used to monitor capacity at shelters across the state, enabling 211 to act as a clearinghouse to assist in finding shelter space for those who need it.
The governor does not want anyone in Connecticut to die as a result of the cold temperatures in the next few days.
"This is a big concern of mine," he said during Thursday afternoon's press conference. He said that anyone who needs help getting warm should call 211. Also, www.ct.gov/DEMHS offers suggestions for winter weather safety, he said.
Mrs Llodra and the Emergency Management Office are urging residents to be prepared for the severe weather. They are making the following suggestions:
Make a kit, with water, enough non-perishable food for three days, a battery operated radio, flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, garbage bags and other sanitation type
Generators: A home generator can be a great help if the power goes out. Be sure that the generator is properly installed and vented away from the house. Never run
a generator indoors.
Consider Medical Needs: Review continuity of care from existing professional assistance, supply of medications, home delivery of essential supplies such as oxygen, and other specific needs.
Be prepared to properly care for pets in severe weather.
Make a Backup Plan: Make sure you have a communications plan setup with your family, especially those out of the area who may be worried about your well being. Set up a time and method to get in touch with them to let them know your status.
Be Informed: Make sure cell phones and other mobile devices are fully charged in the event the power goes out. Listen to the local authorities and weather
stations for information on the storm’s progression. Those who have not already done so are encouraged to sign up for CodeRED alerts that are provided by the Town, including your cell phone number so you may receive the messages.
During his press conference, Gov Malloy also suggested that all homeowners know where their shutoff valves are in the event of frozen pipes. Cabinets on outside walls should be kept open, to allow warm air inside a house to circulate as close to pipes as possible.
If pipes do freeze, the governor said, do not try to thaw them with an open flame.
"That's extremely dangerous to do," he said. "Pipes can explode under those circumstances and cause even further damage."
Important Phone Numbers
For the second time today, Mrs Llodra also offered the following phone numbers and reminders:
If there is a Life Safety Emergency, call 911.
CL&P (to report a power outage), call 800-286-2000.
Code Red (for alerts from the town), register at www.newtown-ct.gov or call 203-270-4370 for assistance.
Connecticut’s free information and referral service: call 211 or visit www.211ct.org.
Check News & Announcements on the Town website, www.newtown-ct.gov. Residents can also register to have notices sent to their email at that site.
The National Weather Service is predicting Netown will receive between 8-10 inches of snow by Friday night. Temperatures will be a concern in addition to the precipitation, also according to NWS, which is reporting that tonight's temperatures will drop to around 8 degrees but with a wind chill value as low as -4. Northeast winds will move at 16-18 mph.
Blowing snow will greet Newtown tomorrow, accompanied by a cloyd sky and temperatures rising to 13 degrees. The wind chill, however, will feel like -8 on Friday, thanks to north winds of 13 to 17 mph. Friday night, temperatures will be -8, with northwest winds 5-7 mph.