Impact of the storm

The impact of Hurricane Sandy is one that will be felt for some time, and what’s important is to be able to recognize what went right and what didn’t. So this week I will be looking at some of the major areas that need to be focused on.

 

Connecticut Light & Power: This utility’s approach was to restore power in the following order of priority: health and safety to enable emergency vehicles and services to function; critical facilities to enable fire and police departments, hospitals, shelters, and polling centers to operate; and then bulk restoration. Bulk restoration involves returning power to the largest population with the least resources. As of this writing, CL&P has approximately 3,000 line workers and 1,500 tree workers in Greenwich. Greenwich [as of the weekend] had 44%, or 145,000, without power. The utility has called in contractors from the north — Canada — and the south — Florida. CL&P even enlisted retirees to help out.

Optimum: Even though power is restored, it does not mean you will quickly get cable (meaning TV, phone, or Internet). A “node” has to activate for a return of service in your area, according to an Optimum technician, and that could take days. Their recordings regarding outages are not informative.

Insurance: According to news reports, how the cause of the storm damage is classified is important in processing insurance claims. Evidently, in some cases, there is a large deductible for hurricane damages. It is advised that homeowners confirm with their insurers whether their damage is categorized as “post storm.”

Also, insurance companies may categorize damage as being caused by wind as opposed to flood. If a homeowner does not have the type of insurance policy for the damage, this could prove costly. As previously reported, damages associated with dead fallen trees are not covered by insurance.

Homeowners are responsible for maintaining their properties, and that includes the care of trees. Keeping dead, diseased trees or poorly pruned trees can jeopardize others’ lives and property.

Fraud/scams: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Its main purpose is to coordinate the response to a designated state-of-emergency disaster that overwhelms local and state authorities’ resources. FEMA contractors will always call homeowners for a confirmed appointment before coming to a home, and they wear photo identification.

There are stories of homeowners being burglarized by those knocking on doors claiming to be FEMA representatives and other types of service providers. It is always best to call service providers and set up an appointment for what you wish to have done.

Caution: Generators give off 100 times more carbon monoxide than a car. They should not be placed in a garage with an open door. Electric and gas stoves should not be used to heat a home. Care should be taken in cutting fallen trees and limbs, as they could be tangled in active wires. Standing in water near fallen wires can be a fatal mistake. If wires fall on a car that you are in, do not leave the car until emergency workers give you the go-ahead.

Lessons learned: Evacuate when asked or required to do so. Make sure you are prepared with nonperishable foods, even if you have a generator. Have flashlights that do not require D batteries. Have all cars filled with gas, charge all phones (smart phones are key) and electronics in advance, have a battery radio, and know of stations that are operable in all conditions for updates. Be prepared to share resources (gas, libraries, YMCA/YWCA, food and hardware stores) with other areas. Essential service providers, schools, and food stores should have generators. Gas-operated ovens and fireplaces/stoves along with generators are valued in homes. Avoid parking under or near trees.

Real estate: Realtors are already seeing an increased demand for rentals for those displaced by the storm. Buyers who are interested in purchasing homes in water communities are wanting to look at homes immediately after the storm to see how they fared in making their decision.

Shout-Outs: The Greenwich police have handled and are continuing to handle extenuating circumstances extremely well, from treating true emergencies, directing traffic, and bailing motorists out of streets after they ignored road closure and detour signs, to overseeing gas lines and addressing fights.

The tree trimmers have also done extremely well in moving huge trees that have made roads impassible. The size of these trees is incredible. For the safety of others, homeowners and the town of Greenwich should continue removing trees of questionable health or those that are top-heavy with branches.

Thumbs down — communication: Unless you had access to TV, phone and Internet, Greenwich residents were in the dark regarding developments. Even for with those connections, it was not clear what approaches being taken and what the time line was for getting service restored until it was in progress. Readers are reporting that less observation and more of an applicable action plan would be helpful.

 

Mary Ann Clark is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker at 177 West Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. Questions or comments may be e-mailed to [email protected] or she may be reached directly at 203-249-2244.

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