CL&P says it is on ‘high alert’ in storm preparations, Tesei says daily briefings on potential impact to begin Friday

UPDATED THURSDAY 7:45 P.M. — A year after Halloween brought the town an unexpected snowstorm, Greenwich could be in the path of something even more severe, a hurricane.

According to the National Weather Service, the first impact of Tropical Cyclone Sandy might be felt this weekend.

“There is increasing confidence that the tri-state area will feel the impacts of a major coastal storm late this weekend into early next week,” it said in a hazardous weather outlook statement issued Thursday morning. “This includes the potential for heavy rainfall, high winds, coastal flooding, and beach erosion. The specific impacts will ultimately depend on the eventual track and evolution of Tropical Cyclone Sandy as it interacts with deepening upper level low pressure system approaching the East Coast.”

 

On Thursday, Gov. Dannel Malloy said he was urging all residents to be prepared.

“Just as the state is monitoring and preparing, the public should do the same,” Mr. Malloy said. “Some models predict that Sandy may move onshore somewhere in New England early next week. Although we are not certain the storm will impact the state, we need to be prepared. That means everyone, especially the state’s utility companies.”

The town is set to meet today to begin preparations and Connecticut Light and Power said it would be ready. It pledged to remain in contact with municipalities like Greenwich, which has seen severe outages from major storms in recent years.

“We’re closely monitoring weather forecasts and preparing for high winds and heavy rain that can devastate the electric system and cause power outages,” said Bill Quinlan, CL&P Senior Vice President of Emergency Preparedness. “The past year has been all about improving storm response, and we stand ready to respond as quickly and safely as possible. While we hope for the best, we all need to prepare for the worst.”

Mr. Malloy and the state’s Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security offered several tips to be prepared for the storm including creating a basic emergency supply kit with one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, a whistle to signal for help, moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation, a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, can opener and a cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger.

First Selectman Peter Tesei reached out to residents Thursday night using the town’s reverse 911 system, saying that the storm has the potential to do “moderate to significant” damage to the town next week. He said he met Thursday afternoon with the town’s Emergency Management Director Dan Warzoha. The town will begin making updates about the storm Friday night at 6 p.m. and then begin making twice-daily updates at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

“Town personnel are securing all town facilities, reviewing their response plans, and organizing their human and physical resources to be ready for what may impact our town,” Mr. Tesei said. “The town has consistently followed a priority list that addresses life safety issues as the most important area of concern.  Other priorities include road closures, safe routing for traffic and pedestrians, and debris removal.”

Mr. Tesei urged residents to monitor weather through media outlets and visit the town of Greenwich website at www.greenwichct.org for further updates and to review our Hurricane Preparedness brochure http://www.greenwichct.org/upload/medialibrary/de8/hd_Hurricanes_Be_Prepared_4.pdf

Additionally, Mr. Tesei e-mailed his colleagues on the Board of Selectmen as well as the heads of the town’s neighborhood associations on Thursday night with additional information from CL&P.

According to the e-mail Mr. Tesei received from the utility, “The exact track of Hurricane Sandy is still uncertain, but CL&P is on high alert for a severe storm with heavy rains and damaging winds.”

CL&P assured Mr. Tesei that it was “closely monitoring the forecast and planning accordingly. CL&P said is has requested 2,700 additional line and tree crews and was developing staffing plans to support a multiday 24-hour operation. The utility has also pledged to work with the community in its response to any damage that might come from the storm. A lack of communication with CL&P has been a major customer complaint after past storms with severe power outages in town.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts that Hurricane Sandy, currently with 105 mph winds, will continue northward for the next 36 hours as the storm moves through the eastern Bahamas. It is then forecast to turn to the north-northwest, pick up some speed and move to a position approximately 200 miles west of Cape Hatteras, N.C., by 8 a.m. Monday morning.

Sandy is then forecast to turn north and then move northwest and be about 100 miles south-southwest of Connecticut by 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.

“Longer-range forecasts are now indicating that Sandy will very likely impact New England Tuesday,” according to the state emergency department.

Government forecasters on Thursday upped the odds of a major weather mess, the Associated Press reported Thursday adding there’s a 90% chance that the East will get steady gale-force winds, heavy rain, flooding and maybe snow starting Sunday and stretching past Halloween on Wednesday.

The storm could cause $1 billion in damages to the U.S., the AP reported.

The storm is a combination of Hurricane Sandy, now in the Caribbean, an early winter storm in the West, and a blast of arctic air from the North, according to AP. They’re predicted to collide and park over the New York City area.

Greenwich-post.com will have updates throughout the storm.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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