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‘Make Safe’ Crews Working, But Parked Vehicles Are Impeding Access

Published: May 16, 2018

Newtown Police say that the owners of vehicles parked along town roads, particularly in tight riverside neighborhoods, will need to move those cars and trucks effective immediately or they will face being towed.

Officials including Police Chief James Viadero made this clear during a 4 pm Emergency Management meeting when he learned that tree and Eversource crews trying to open those roadways for travel were impeded by vehicles parked on both sides of already narrow streets.

Gelding Hill Road was one of the streets mentioned as being a problem.

Plans were also being made to distribute drinking water to residents who were without, and some officials expressed concern about individuals whose homes were significantly compromised by fallen trees who refused to leave their residences.

“If they don’t want to leave there is not much you can do,” said Emergency Management Director William Halstead, while discussing the issue with Building Inspector John Poeltl and Health District Director Donna Culbert.

On the other hand, Ms Culbert noted that several residents whose homes were partially destroyed in the storm were welcomed by neighbors.

Mr Halstead, who is also the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Chief, said he and his crews saw several homes down along the shores of Lake Zoar were “completely destroyed” by fallen trees and debris.

Mr Poeltl added than in some areas “there is a tree on every house.”

Two “Make Safe” crews from Eversource arrived in town along with a supplemental tree clearing crew Wednesday morning and were expected to work until dark. Public Works Director Fred Hurley said if a third crew shows up before then, he will keep a local DPW crew on to work with them to help expedite clearing tangles of fallen trees blocking roads that may also involve live electrical wires.

Chief Viadero also requested that residents restrict driving in town until more roads can be cleared.

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said he will press Eversource for some definitive timelines on restoration by mid-day Thursday, because he said residents deserve to know approximately how long they will be without power.

The utility issued a release around 3 pm Wednesday saying despite the fact that out of state line crews were arriving in Connecticut, homeowners in communities like Danbury and Newtown could expect to be without power for “multiple days.”

Eversource Vice President of Electric Operations Mike Hayhurst said “at every turn, our crews are facing blocked roads caused by downed trees. As a safety precaution, we remind everyone to stay clear of downed wires and to report them to police and fire officials. Once we clear the roads, then we can continue the process of re-building the system and restoring power.”

The company reminds customers to be cautious while continuing with their own storm clean up, be careful moving or cutting tree limbs and look for any wires that may be entangled in debris. Also, customers should report an outage online at eversource.com, or by calling 800-286-2000.

Those who signed up for the company’s two-way texting feature can send a text to report an outage and receive outage updates as they happen.

National Weather Service investigators were in Newtown Wednesday but the agency said it could be several days before they could definitively identify whether a tornado was to blame for much of the damage locally.

The service did say areas of Brookfield were hit by a “macroburst,” with maximum wind speeds of 100-110 mph impacting a swath about 2½ miles in width and five miles in length. Macrobursts can produce as much if not more damage as tornadoes due to their size and scope, the NWS statement read.

The service also confirmed that an EF1 tornado with estimated peak winds of 100 mph moved through a discontinuous path of 75 yards in Patterson, N.Y., on Tuesday.

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