Huffpost Green

Connecticut State Of Emergency Declared By Obama In The Wake Of Winter Storm

Posted: Updated:

President Obama today declared an emergency exists in Connecticut and ordered federal aid to supplement state, local response.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are authorized to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and provide emergency assistance for a period of 48 hours, according to a White House statement.

Connecticut National Guard spokesman Col. John Whitford said Sunday that there are more than 4,000 troops available to help, but cities and towns must make requests through the state office of emergency management. Whitford said the guard can assist with removing snow or rescuing stranded residents.

The Blizzard of 2013 served up a paralyzing parfait of precipitation, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow on Connecticut, along with sleet, rain and flooding on the shoreline.

Due to the record amount of snow, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection lifted a ban Saturday on dumping snow in waterways, including the Long Island Sound.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy lifted the state's driving ban as of 4 p.m. Saturday, but urged residents to stay off the roads if at all possible so that crews could work to clear the roadways.

"The longer we can keep traffic out of town centers and off of our highways, the more effective our recovery effort will be," he said in a written statement Saturday.

Snow choked off virtually every secondary road in the state. Buses stopped running; Metro-North Railroad suspended train service; there was no mail delivery and post offices throughout the state stayed closed.

According to Metro-North, service between Stamford and New Haven remains suspended until further notice, as well as on the three Connecticut branch lines.

Amtrak planned to restore limited service Sunday between New York and Boston, according to a statement. All Springfield Shuttle service (New Haven -- Springfield, Mass.) remains canceled.

Photos: Blizzard of 2013 in Connecticut

Malloy had ordered all roads closed early Saturday morning.

"Right now our main priority is to clear roads," Malloy had said. "One of the biggest problems we're facing is stranded automobiles. We're trying to dig them out and tow them away."

Malloy said 270 National Guard personnel were on duty. He also noted that state police received 3,000 calls during the storm.

According to a release Sunday, Malloy planned to visit the Hamden Public works headquarters and meet with Mayor Scott Jackson at 1 p.m. Hamden received the highest total of snow -- 40 inches -- in New England. Then at 2:30 p.m, he planned to visit the West Haven Emergency Operations Center and meet with Mayor John M. Picard.

A briefing on the state of Connecticut after the storm is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Hartford.

There have been at least two storm-related deaths in the state.

One person, an 81-year-old Prospect woman who was hit by a car while operating a snowblower, was killed during the storm, Malloy said. The governor said the incident was an apparent hit-and-run.

In Shelton, police said a Darrin Drive man died after his snowplow became stuck and he began clearing snow with a shovel Friday night.

"At some point, he was stricken," said Lt. David Moore. The man wasn't found until 4 a.m. Saturday.

"A neighbor discovered him. EMS used a snowmobile and a sled and dragged him away from the scene like it was a ski slope rescue," Moore said.

Bridgeport police confirmed that a man at 3907 Old Town Road died Saturday afternoon in his driveway, but could not confirm the death was storm related.

Also, police in Danbury said a man was found dead on his back porch Saturday on Forest Avenue. Police said they don't know yet if the man slipped and fell or whether he had a heart attack and fell.

Meanwhile, state utility companies reported nearly 26,000 power outages as of 8:30 a.m. Sunday., down from a peak of more than 50,000 outages.

State police reported more than 230 car accidents before the roads were closed. In New Haven, the city asked the National Guard to help rescue stranded motorists.

"The storm dropped 34 inches of snow in New Haven, which accumulated at an extremely rapid pace, making it nearly impossible to keep the main arterial roads clear," an update on the city's web page said. "Clearing the roads around hospitals, and then main roads, are the city's priority at this time."

Indeed, local snow totals were jaw dropping. Sam Kantrow, a WTNH News 8 meteorologist, said, "Pretty much around the state, people saw at least two feet." He added that unofficial snow accumulation totals varied widely because of high winds and drifting snow. Hamden, for example, has had reports of anywhere from 27 to 34 inches, Kantrow said.

Those winds, Kantrow explained, included a couple of gusts of more 80 miles an hour -- including an 82 mph gust in Westbrook.

The National Weather Service released snow totals for a number of area towns: Stratford, 32"; Shelton, 26.5"; Clinton, 27.5"; Milford, 38"; Hamden, 40"; Wallingford, 35"; New Haven, 34.3"; East Haven, 33"; West Haven, 34"; Madison, 32"; North Haven, 29"; Branford, 38".

Malloy said Connecticut saw record or near-record snowfall amounts in seven of eight counties.

Service on the New Haven line between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal resumed Saturday afternoon. Sunday service between Stamford and Grand Central will run on a normal schedule.

But New Haven itself is another matter.

"This is a massive, massive snow event," said Metro-North spokesman Aaron Donovan. "We are running patrol trains to clear the snow, check for downed trees, check for downed wires and check the switches."

Donovan said he could not give an estimate on when trains will be able to run in and out of New Haven.

Bob McDonough, a Metro-North conductor who lives in Clinton, had to sleep on his train Friday night. On Saturday, he and other Metro-North personnel attempted to blow snow off the railway with a special train.

"We only made it as far as West Haven," McDonough said. He also reported that two local train conductors attempted to drive home to North Haven Friday night, but became stranded.

"They trudged through hip deep snow for a half mile in the blizzard until they reached a friend's house at 3 a.m.," McDonough said.

Mayor John DeStefano Jr. is making his way back to New Haven Sunday as a travel ban remains in effect for the city.

In Cheshire, officials reported that the bubble covering at the Community Pool collapsed under the weight of snow.

In Clinton, a warehouse at 30 Old Post Road collapsed collapsed under the weight of the snow on Saturday morning. A police dispatcher said the former Unilever warehouse appeared to be abandoned, and there were no known injuries caused by the collapse.

Hospital employees, fire and police personnel were to a large extent stranded at work because their replacements couldn't get in to relieve them.

There was plenty for them to do.

In Branford, the fire department rescued a family of six -- including two children, who were experiencing high levels of carbon monoxide poisoning Saturday morning. The family lives on Seaview Avenue.

In Madison, plow drivers began getting stuck in the snow at 2 a.m. Saturday; in Orange, emergency workers rescued a man having a diabetic emergency Friday night on Derby-Milford Road.

Jack Walsh, who updates the city website in Derby, said officials are trying to bring in payloaders to help clear huge piles of snow off roads.

"The plows can't handle it," Walsh said.

Another problem in Derby was residents shoveling and blowing snow off their driveways and into the already-clogged streets. "They're already had a couple of accidents because of that," Walsh said.

In East Haven, Mike Lawlor, state undersecretary for criminal justice policy, said he participated in a statewide conference call for state officials Saturday morning.

"Apparently, there were fewer power outages than people thought, which was very good," Lawlor said. "By far, the biggest problem is people who were out on the roads and just got stuck. It's just people blocking roads and abandoning their cars."

Steve Ingalls, a veteran mail carrier in the Ivoryton section of Essex, made this plea to people out shoveling on Saturday and Sunday:

"Mailmen would be so grateful if all those guys plowing driveways would just make one pass in front of the mailbox," Ingalls said.

Kantrow said rain is expected for Monday, with more snow possibly coming in on Thursday. But before that, Connecticut will deal with cold temperatures Saturday night and Sunday morning.

"Temperatures across the whole state are going to be below 10 tonight, which is a big concern for those without power," Kantrow said.

Register staff contributed to this story. Call Jim Shelton at 203-789-5664. ___

Also on HuffPost:

Close
Blizzard 'Nemo' Photos
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Obama declares state of emergency in Connecticut- The New ...

Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security - CT.gov

Connecticut Emergency Alerting and Notification Systems

President Obama declares state of emergency in Connecticut ...

State of emergency issued for Hartford - WFSB 3 Connecticut

As Northwest Corner digs out from blizzard, Obama declares state of ...

Obama declares state of emergency for Connecticut following ...

State Of Emergency Declared In Connecticut For Hurricane Sandy ...

Eastern Alert - Eastern Connecticut State University

Hurricane Sandy: States of emergency declared in NY, NJ, CT

From Our Partners