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Malloy: The situation is dire for shoreline

Monday, 9:20 p.m. —  Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, based on the most recent data from the National Weather Service that suggests a strong possibility exists for historic flooding at high tide later tonight, convened an emergency call at about 8:15 p.m. with the mayors and first selectmen of coastal towns from Greenwich to Old Saybrook (Regions 1 and 2).

The data suggests that each town should immediately evacuate people for what is known as a Category 4 event, the highest possible warning.

“I’ve told the mayors and first selectmen that they have no time to waste,” Malloy said. “To the extent they have the ability to order mandatory evacuations I’ve told them must give this their highest priority. I was concerned all along about the potential destructive impact of this last high tide, and unfortunately the best information we have confirms my worst fears.”

The towns primarily concerned are in Region 1: Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, Norwalk, Stamford, Stratford and Westport.  Other towns of substantial concern are in Region 2: Milford and nine other communities.

The governor said he is especially concerned about the danger in towns from Greenwich to Bridgeport, along the Fairfield County shoreline.

“Those are municipalities with large population centers that are in harm’s way,” Malloy said. “I told those municipal leaders that these people need to be evacuated, and I they need to be evacuated now. The situation is dire.”

Monday, 12:45 p.m. — Winds were blowing from the northeast at 30 mph, gusting to 50 mph, at 11 a.m. — and picking up. Wind gusts on Long Island Sound went up to 54 mph during the past hour, according to the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

The state has shutdown interstates and parkways, including the Merritt Parkway and Interstate 95, to trucks and passenger vehicles will be banned beginning at 1 p.m. In New Canaan, a curfew went into effect at noon Monday and is expected to last until noon Tuesday.

“The last time we saw this threat was never,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said during a noon press conference in Hartford.

Some shoreline flooding was not as bad as expected at noon because of winds blowing toward Long Island. That flooding still approached what was seen during Tropical Storm Irene last year. But Malloy warned that by Monday night, the wind should be blowing the opposite direction, which could lead to flooding unlike most have seen in the state, during high tide around midnight.

Malloy said the state is about to hit the most difficult part of the storm this afternoon, which is expected to last for 24 hours.

Monday, 10 a.m. —  Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today ordered road closures for all state highways.  The closures will be implemented in two phases.

At 11 a.m., trucks will be prohibited from operating on limited access highways.  At 1 p.m., state highways will be closed to all non-emergency related vehicles.

The governor said in a press release, “Residents need to take this storm very seriously.  Beginning in the next several hours, wind gusts will begin to exceed 50 m.p.h., making traveling along our roads – especially wooded areas like the Merritt Parkway – very dangerous.  We’re doing this in two phases, so that trucks will first be prohibited and then all non-emergency vehicles.  If you’re in a non-evacuation area, stay home.”

Monday, 7:45 a.m. —  Hurricane Sandy, now off the coast of North Carolina, strengthened overnight and its center is still on course with making landfall in New Jersey and bringing devastating winds to southwest Connecticut as it shifts from a hurricane into a hybrid super storm that could last for two days. But the edges of the potentially historic storm have already reached Connecticut, where wind gusts have reached 38 mph at Sikorsky Memorial Airport.

There is a high wind warning in effect through Tuesday afternoon for the area — because Sandy won’t technically be a hurricane when it gets here — that should be treated like a hurricane warning. Winds from are expected to be 30 to 50 mph with gusts up to 85 mph, according to the National Weather Service. There is also a flood watch inland and along the coast where the weather service says waves are expected to build to 6 to 12 feet within Long Island Sound.

“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 Sunday morning. 

The winds have been steadily picking up here overnight, increasing to a steady wind more than 20 mph with gusts nearing 40 mph.
The winds could pose “a significant threat to life and property,” according to the weather service. “Damaging winds are expected. Winds will be capable of downing trees and snapping off large tree branches. Power outages could be widespread and last at least several days. Debris will block some roads. Most poorly anchored mobile homes will be damaged. Other homes may have damage to shingles, siding, gutters and windows — especially if these items are not properly secured. Loose outdoor items will become airborne, causing additional damage and possible injury. Windows in high-rise buildings could be broken by flying debris.”
Dangerous conditions will occur today and tonight, according to the weather service’s Monday morning warning. “Everyone should be moving to a place of safety. Once inside, ensure all windows and doors are secured before dangerous winds arrive,” the weather service said.

If you aren’t already, be sure to have cell phones charged — as you never know when you are going to lose power. “Keep cell phone and Internet communications as open as possible for emergencies,” the weather service said. Using text messages instead of calls can help save your battery — and also is less stress on the network, Malloy said Sunday.
Hurricane-force winds are expected from Virginia to Massachusetts and storm surges in Long Island Sound could top 10 feet, according to forecasters.

The destructive waves, on top of the storm surge, will cause over-washes and significant damage to coastal structures nearest to sea level. “This is especially true for low-lying areas… and historically vulnerable locations along Long Island Sound,” according to the weather service.
At 5 a.m., Hurricane Sandy was off the coast of North Carolina, moving north at 15 mph. It is expected to make a turn toward the northwest Monday and then a turn toward the west-northwest Monday night, according to the National Hurricane Center. The center of the giant storm is supposed move over the coast of New Jersey Monday evening or night.
According to Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft, Sandy’s maximum-sustained winds have increased to 85 mph that extend 175 miles from the center of the storm. Tropical force winds extend 485 miles.

“Sandy is expected to transition into a frontal or wintertime low pressure system prior to landfall,” according to the hurricane center. “However, this transition will not be accompanied by a weakening of the system — and in fact — a little strengthening is possible during this process. Sandy is expected to weaken after moving inland.”
The storm is expected to bring two to four inches of rain in this area — with isolated amounts up to five inches — with the worst of the rain being to the west. Two to three feet of snow is forecast for the mountains of West Virginia from the storm and 12 to 18 inches of snow in parts of Virginia and Kentucky.

Sunday, 8:04 p.m. —  “The last time we saw anything like this was never,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said during a Sunday evening press conference about the impending Hurricane Sandy heading. 

He said that Connecticut could be the hardest hit of all the states, and that all worst-case scenarios talked about for days appear closer and closer to arriving with Sandy.
Connecticut will also extend voter registration deadlines by two days across the state.

The governor told the media and residents that there has been no change in what Connecticut should expect: The state is heading for the most serious storm in its history.
Malloy said that storm surge along the Connecticut coast could reach 11 feet, and residents who have not made plans to evacuate need to do so now. 

“This could be the difference between life and death,” he said. 

Once the storm hits, emergency workers will not be able to rescue those who stayed behind during the storm, which could last 36 to 48 hours, because it could occur during four high tides.

“We’re expecting 40- to 60-mph winds, with gusts as high as 80 mph, over a 36-hour period,” Malloy said.

The governor said that Sandy, which is expected to become a hybrid storm as it combines with two others over our area, is going to be unlike anything we’ve seen before.

“A hurricane impact in Connecticut is normally six to 12 hours,” Malloy said. “This will last 36 to 48 hours that include four high-tide cycles.”
“This is the highest threat to human life our state has experienced in anyone’s lifetime,” the governor said later.

He said Monday night is expected to be the worst night for winds and flooding.

Malloy told residents to be sure to have anything not nailed down on their properties to be moved inside. Along with ordering all non-essential state workers to stay home Monday, the governor is signing an executive order to extend voter registration from Tuesday, Oct. 30, to Thursday, Nov. 1, at 8 p.m. “Weather events happen, but our democracy goes on.”

Later, the governor was asked what would happen if much of the state is still without power on Election Day. 

“We will cross that bridge when we come to it,” he replied.

Sunday afternoon —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 on Sunday afternoon requested that President Barack Obama declare a pre-landfall emergency in Connecticut. This declaration allows the state to request funding and other assistance in advance of the storm impacting the state.

Hurricane Sandy is a serious threat to our state and this declaration will allow us to request federal funding and other assistance in Connecticut in advance of the storm,” Malloy said. “When I spoke with President Obama this afternoon, it was clear that he and other federal emergency management officials are taking this threat as seriously as we are. As the hours go by, we are more and more certain that Hurricane Sandy will have a substantial impact on our state and I do not want to wait to get this process going.”

During his Sunday morning press conference, Malloy said he 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. Shelton schools are closed on Monday and Tuesday.

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.”

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