Updated 6 p.m., Nov. 5
At a storm recovery briefing Monday afternoon, Mayor Richard A Moccia said Norwalk schools were to reopen Wednesday, but that’s now on hold because of an approaching Nor’easter that’s forecast to hit the city late Wednesday afternoon.
He said interim schools Superintendent Tony Daddona will announce Tuesday afternoon whether there will be school Wednesday.
Moccia said CL&P anticipates 98 percent of its Norwalk customers will have power by Tuesday night. He said some homes have had their service cut because electric equipment in them was contaminated by saltwater.
He said homes where CL&P has removed the service meter or where city building inspectors have tagged meters due to contamination will require repairs by private electricians and then be inspected by the city before service can be restored.
Moccia will be recording another Notify Norwalk phone message that city residents will receive Monday night.
Hal Alvord, director of the Dept. of Public Works, said all of his department’s trucks and equipment are ready to handle the storm Wednesday. But because of the extraordinary number of hours DPW workers have been working since last Monday, many were sent home early today to get rest.
Alvord said there’s only one traffic signal and one sewage pumping station in the city not functioning. Both had there electrical systems destroyed during superstorm Sandy.
The city’s yard debris site on South Smith St. will be open every day through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Moccia said so far the city has shipped out about 2,000 tons of storm debris.
Alvord said all of the city’s roads are open and passable.
Moccia said all of the city’s polling places have power and will be open Tuesday, “so everybody will be able to exercise their democratic right to vote and I hope everybody will do that.”
Moccia said the city is working with FEMA to find a location where its agents can set up to receive property damage claims from residents and businesses.
Updated 4 p.m., Nov. 4
At an afternoon storm briefing Sunday, Mayor Richard A. Moccia said there were approximately 4,000 CL&P customers without power as of 1:45 p.m.
Moccia said the electric utility has 55 line crews, 25 tree crews and 23 electricians working in the city.
“I want to thank the utility after our calls and my concerns for the heightened level of attention devoted to Norwalk,” Moccia said.
According to Chris Torre, supervisor of the city’s highway department and tree management, who attended the briefing, the city has hauled away approximately 1,250 tons of storm debris to an upstate facility. Torre said the Dept. of Public Works anticipates receiving 480 tons of storm debris everyday into next week at its drop off location on South Smith Street. The site will open Monday at 7:30 a.m.
With the chance of a nor’easter storm reaching the city Wednesday, Torre advised residents to clear debris from the catch basins in front of their houses and businesses to avoid flooding.
Torre said DPW believes every street in the city is now clear of storm debris. He said if anyone is aware of a street still blocked, call the city’s Customer Service Dept. at (203) 854-3200.
Michelle DeLuca, the city’s deputy director of emergency management, said the city’s shelter at Brien McMahon High School will close after breakfast is served on Monday. Free meals will continue to be provided at Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now at 98 South Main St. on Monday.
Moccia said all of the city’s polling places have power. Silvermine and Rowatyon elementary schools are still without power.
Moccia said it is the intent of interim School Superintendent Tony Daddona to open schools on Wednesday, but a final decision has not be made.
Moccia warned residents not to mix storm debris with their regular garbage, as this could cause a health hazard. He said the city’s trash collection contractor will not be picking up yard debris.
Moccia said he visited the Harborview neighborhood in South Norwalk earlier in the day.
“The devastation at Harborview was beyond even my expectations,” Moccia said. “But I will tell you that the energy, the enthusiasm and the neighborhood spirit there is beyond belief.
Moccia said the city is working on finding a location for representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency so residents and businesses with storm damage can file claims.
In preparing to file a claim, Moccia advised storm victims to obtain documentation and photograph damage.
Updated 9:25 a.m. Nov. 4
As of 9 a.m., 15 percent of Norwalk customers are currently without power, according to CL&P.
Update 5:52 p.m. Nov. 3
The following statement was sent by Mayor Richard Moccia:
Schools will be closed Monday due to the storm and Tuesday due to the election.
The Shelter at Brien McMahon High School remains open for warmth, rest and meals. Also, NEON will provide meals and warmth during the day at 98 South Main Street in South Norwalk.
For safety reasons we are forced to close the yard debris site on Sunday. It will reopen at 7:30 Monday morning.
We have seen an improved performance from CL&P and hope power restoration for the vast majority of citizens will come prior to the official Tuesday-at-midnight projection.
If you remain without power please find warm accommodations and keep your family safe.
Update, 11:34 a.m. Nov. 3
As of 11:25 a.m., 28 percent of Norwalk residents are currently without power, according to CL&P.
Update, 9:45 a.m. Nov. 1
City department heads and representatives from social service organizations met Thursday afternoon to discuss the status of cleaning up and making repairs following Sandy. Here is new information presented during the meeting:
The Town Clerk’s office will be open tonight until 8 p.m., and until 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Town Clerk Richard McQuaid noted voters cannot receive an
absentee ballot if they will be in the city on Election Day next Tuesday. This applies even if a voter will unable to get to a polling place because of circumstances related to the storm. He said emergency ballots can only be provided unless the Secretary of State authorizes them.
Related, nine public schools remain without power. Since the city's polling sites are in schools, it may be necessary to establish alternate polling site locations.Also, a decision will be made Sunday whether to open schools on Monday. There will be no classes Tuesday because of Election Day.
Because of storm damage, Calf Pasture Beach Park and Veterans Memorial Park remain closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Cranbury Park will be open Friday.
The city's senior building inspector, Bill Ireland, warned that any electric or gas equipment that came in contact with salt water must be inspected by a licensed electrician or a Yankee Gas employee before being put back in service. He said gas equipment exposed to salt water almost always has to be replaced.
The city's health director, Tim Callahan, said no safety issues have turned up during inspections of restaurants and food stores that were flooded.
The city's water supply is safe. However, people with wells should have them tested if they became flooded during the storm.
The city's finance director, Thomas Hamilton, said it's believed the city will receive substantial reimbursement from the federal government and insurance for the cost of making repairs to city property, as well labor costs. He said the city will initiallly have to pay for repairs with its own funds and then file for reimbursement.
Hamilton said the city will not have financial problems as a result of these costs. The city can cover them by allocating money from its so-called "rainy day fund" or by issuing special bonds.
The president of the Norwalk Transit District, Lou Shulman, said the state's Department of Transportation hasn't restored train service to the South Norwalk Station because they thought the station did not have electricity. He said he told them the station was fully functional, so they will be re-evaluating the situation.
Mayor Richard A. Moccia said he had to turn down a request to move a Battle of the Bands compeition scheduled to occur at Norwalk High School, which has no power, to Brien McMahon High School. He said a fundraising concert may be held in City Hall's Concert Hall to make up for revenue the city's band committees usual make through concession stands at the competitions.
Norwalk Hospital is in full operation.
Norwalk Transit District WHEELS busses are operating on a full schedule, including door-to-door ADA service for disabled people. The district is also providing transportation to and from the city's shelter at Brien McMahon High School, 300 Highland Ave.
The city's yard debris dump site on South Smith Street will be open Saturday until 5:00 pm.
911 is to be used for emergency purposes only. Report other issues to the city's Customer Service Office at (203) 854 3200.
To report power outages or find out restoration times, contact the local providers:
CL&P (800) 286-2000
Third Taxing District: (203) 866-9271
Report spills and petroleum issues to the state Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection (860) 424-3338.
Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance:
For FEMA assistance you must register directly at www.disasterassistance.gov.
To access FEMA's "Disaster Survivor Assistance" information, go to www.fema.gov/disaster-survivor-assistance
To access the federal government's "Recovering From Disaster" information, go to www.ready.gov/recovering-disaster
To access FEMA's "Returning Home Safely" information, go to m.fema.gov/return_home.htm
To access the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Emergency
Preparedness and Response -- Flood Water After a Disaster or Emergency, go to emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/cleanupwater.asp
Stormwater Warning: Stormwater is likely to be contaminated with raw sewage, pet waste and animal carcasses, chemicals and road salt. Wash skin that had been exposed to stormwater.
Update, 9:45 a.m. Nov. 1
A Not-So-Spooky Halloween Story About the Good to Come from Sandy
This Halloween, when Red Cross of Salvation Army volunteers yelled for the "Key Master" in the halls of Stamford High School, it wasn't Rick Moranis from the Ghostbusters for whom they were looking.
It was 11-year-old Luca Piacenza they were calling. The Norwalk 6th grader held the only elevator key for Red Cross and Salvation Army operation relief efforts while the volunteer groups cared for families in the high school gymnasium who had been displaced by Hurricane Sandy.
Piacenza, running up and down the hallways to operate the elevator car for families on the different floors or volunteers coming and going from the kitchen, was just fulfilling his destiny.
Luca was born on September 11, 2001. A day filled with tragedy, Luca's mother, Linda, said she's watched her son grow into someone who is driven by the need to help others.
"He's very into volunteerism," said Linda. "He was born with a passion to serve. We didn't lose power. He could've been sitting at home watching TV with no school and instead he said, 'Mom, are we going to help people today? Let's go. We need to get there.' It makes me so proud. Giving is a very contagious thing."
Luca has a little sister, 8-year-old Mia, who was also helping at the shelter. He said, while she can be a pain-in-the-butt sometimes, she's great at helping others, too. Volunteers shared stories of Luca and Mia dragging cots two-at-a-time to wherever they were needed the night before the storm. Luca said what they do is no big deal. They're just doing what they're supposed to do.
"This all started when my mom started working with Angela [Malizia] for this group called the Backyard Humanitarians," Luca said. "I started helping with them because I thought it was a great idea to give back to my community. I'm here today because I can help the people who don't have the stuff I currently have."
Malizia founded backyard Humanitarians as a Stamford-based, all-volunteer organization that looks to contribute manpower, money and creativity wherever it might be needed in the community.
"I like to say we'd like you to help, whether you can give five minutes, five dollars or five ideas," she said.
Backyard Humanitarians takes no donations. The group exists solely to find bodies and money for those who need it when the situation arises. They are a recognized Community Partner of the Red Cross, who utilizes the efforts of such grassroots groups when situations like Hurricane Sandy arise and the organization must stretch itself pretty thin.
"This group is about Stamford-area people helping Stamford-area people, and it's really taken off. We're growing so fast," she said. OF their efforts at the high school shelter, she said their task was easily defined. "We just want to make sure everyone's as comfortable as possible while they're here. When you're here making sure everyone's safe, and you're here for days-on-end, everyone becomes friends, and it's just adults and kids looking out for each other."
The high school had housed 47 people Tuesday night. That number was a significant drop from the Monday night peak Stamford High had hosted as the storm rolled into Connecticut and 9 p.m. emergency evacuations were conducted when the Governor issued a Category 4 warning, according to Red Cross Site Manager Frank Cassella.
"I went home when there were 150 people here," Cassella said. "I came back a few hours later and you can imagine my shock when I found out there were now 450 people here."
Though the numbers had slimmed down, there were still about 20 people hanging out throughout the day Cassella said. More importantly, Stamford residents without power were utilizing the site as a "Comfort Station" and visiting with their families to take showers and utilize the facilities throughout the day.
In addition to the Backyard Humanitarians, Cassella thanked the Salvation Army, who he said were life-savers when it came to providing meals for the people in the shelter. He also thanked Stamford's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the Stamford Health and Human Services Department and the Board of Education and school system janitors, who he called unsung heroes.
"Everything we wanted for, they provided," he said. "Heat, electricity issues, helping us set up, getting things unlocked. They were here the whole time and every time we needed something, they were right on top of it to help."
Cassella said he and Luca bonded because it's children who can surprise him most. Cassella was the one who had designated Luca Key Master, and said the kid couldn't be stopped.
"That's a pretty tough environment out there and he's just a young boy," Cassella said. "I was walking that every five minutes getting exhausted. I gave him that key and he was zipping up and back like it was nothing.
At the press conference held Wednesday afternoon when city officials gave an update on the condition of Stamford, the mayor touched briefly on stories like Luca's being told in the wake of Sandy. He said he couldn't be prouder of his citizens.
"I've heard about numerous instances of neighbors helping neighbors," Pavia said. "That is typically Stamford. We have a propensity for stepping out and sharing with and helping those who are in need and I encourage it to continue. It's something Stamford residents are certainly capable of and I'd like to see it increase."
So whether it be donating money, or toiletries, or an extra set of hands to help set up and break down cots at your city shelter, Stamford residents are urged to find a way to help lift each other up at a time when they are being tested most. Even if it's doing something as simple as running around with a key.
Update, 10:45 a.m. Oct. 31
According to Connecticut Light & Power, 13,771 people remain without power in Norwalk, 47-percent of it's customer base.
Update, 10:15 p.m.
Mayor Richard A. Moccia urged the public Tuesday afternoon to stay off city streets to the extent possible while clean-up activities continue following Hurricane Sandy.
"This storm was far more serious than last year with Irene," Moccia said.
"Much larger trees, many trees down, and it is going to take awhile to clean this up."
Moccia said at least 150 trees fell during the storm.
Avoid "sightseeing" Moccia said. "Stay indoors. Let our crews get
out there and do their work."
Moccia also advised Halloween be celebrated on Wednesday with parties at home, rather than having children going door to door with so much storm debris still on the ground.
Moccia said parents must make that decision "because government can't do it for you."
Moccia spoke at a briefing following a meeting of city officials in the Emergency Operations Center in Police Headquarters. He said officials will hold a final session concerning the storm Wednesday morning.
The director of the city's Dept. of Public Works, Hal Alvord, said the city's Wastewater Treatment Plant was fully functional. On Monday it appeared the plant on South Smith Street might sustain severe damage due to flooding.
Alvord said a high tide early Tuesday morning was lower than expected so the plant was restarted.
Alvord said one of the city's 22 sewage pumping stations was "fried" when water inundated it while it was being powered by an emergency generator.
Moccia said power to City Hall was restored Tuesday, so it will be open Wednesday morning.
Moccia said the interim superintendent of schools, Tony Daddona, had announced schools will reopen on Monday. He said 12 of the city's schools were without power.
The city's deputy director of emergency management, Michelle DeLuca, said the city's shelter at Brien McMahon High School would remain open through Wednesday. She said at one point about 250 residents were there.
Moccia said garbage collection will resume Wednesday. He said locations where garbage and recyclables were not collected on Tuesday will be collected on Saturday.
Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik told the public not to cross into locations where police tape or barriers have been installed. Areas that are closed off are dangerous, he said, so "respect the tape and respect the barriers."
Fire Chief Denis McCarthy said hazardous conditions remain in homes where flooded basements became contaminated with fuel or chemicals.
McCarthy said firefighters had responded to a number of calls where residential generators filled a home with carbon monoxide gas. Have working CO and smoke detectors, he warned.
The city's health director, Tim Callahan, said inspectors had visited about 200 food establishments where power had failed. He said in most locations the outages were brief enough that food didn't spoil.
Another 50 or so establishments would be inspected before they reopened, he said.
Callahan recommended any perishables in a residential refrigerator that has not been running for more than 24 hours be discarded.
The city's building inspector, William Ireland, said many homes where major flooding had occurred were inspected on Tuesday, and inspections would continue Wednesday.
Ireland said the city requested CL&P not restore power to the Harbor View and Shorehaven neighborhoods because homes there flooded. He said the electrical systems of those homes needed to be inspected before power is restored.
Moccia said during and after the storm, the city's first-responders "worked as hard as any group of people I've ever seen. The people of Norwalk have a right to be proud of them."
Update, 5:45 p.m.
According to the Norwalk Public Schools website, classes have been canceled for the remainder of the week.
There will be no classes through Friday, Nov. 2.
Update, 12:30 p.m.
At a briefing Tuesday, city officials said no serious injuries or incidents occurred as a result of Sandy. However, it caused substantial property damage and power remains out in much of the city. Also:
- City Hall is closed without power. The city's Customer Service Center is available at (203) 854-3200. The public is urged to call the center for non-emergency issues rather than 911.
- The city's Wasterwater Treatment Plant is fully functioning. There had been concern it would sustain severe damage as a result of flooding. However, as many as ten sewage pumping stations are not operating.
- Fire Chief Denis McCarthy said his companies responded to about 500 calls during the peak of the storm.
- Police Chief Thomas Kulhalwik said at one point there were about 150 non-emergency calls queued up in the dispatch center. He said the department caught up on calls at about 1 a.m. Tuesday.
- The shelter at Brien McMahon High School will remain open at least through Wednesday.
- Due to safety concerns, Yankee Gas has cut off gas service to the south and east of Woodward Avenue and Baxter Drive, affecting about 275 homes.
- WHEELS bus service will not resume until Wednesday.
- A portion of the city's visitor docks at Veterans Memorial Park was destroyed when high winds caused the Island Bell paddle wheeler to tear away the floating dock it was tied to.
Update, 6 a.m.
Outages in Norwalk fell from a high of 18,496 late Monday to 17,901 before dawn Tuesday as city residents awaken to Hurricane Sandy's damage.
Update Oct 30, 12:20 a.m.
City firefighters responded to a seemingly endless number of calls for service early Monday night, from people trapped in flooded homes to a church steeple collapsing.
At one point the fire dispatcher broadcast he had 20 calls holding and was trying to prioritize them.
The usual tension of hurrying to calls was heightened by fire companies encountering roads blocked by downed trees and utility lines, and high water.
Throughout the day and into the night, two "high water rescue teams" were dispatched to calls of people needing to be evacuated from flooded residences, particularly on streets connected to Woodward Avenue in South Norwalk.
Meantime, it was made known by city officials at a 6 p.m. storm briefing that the city may not be able to process sewage for weeks.
"We're almost certain to lose the Wastewater Treatment Plant in tonight's high tide at midnight," said the director of the Dept. of Public Works, Hal Alvord.
Alvord said Monday morning's high tide caused flooding at the plant on South Smith Street and winds prevented the tide from receding. So tonight's high tide will be on top of that, he said, and if current conditions continue, the plant will be under water.
"Depending on the depth of water in the plant, that plant could be out of operation for weeks," Alvord said.
The shutdown of the plant could result in sewage backing up into homes and through manholes at various locations in the city, he said, so "we should make sure everybody knows they should try to avoid water usage at all cost."
Alvord suggested residents line toilet seats with plastic kitchen trash bags to catch waste until the situation can be corrected.
Alvord said in areas where sewage is gravity fed through pipes, sewage from higher-elevation residences "is likely to end up in the living room of one of your neighbors" who lives below you.
Asked after the briefing if the city faced a sewage nightmare, Alvord said "yes."
Update, 9:30 p.m.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy just issued what he called a "Katrina-like warning," to shoreline towns from Greenwich to Old Saybrook, saying he was issuing a Category 4 warning, the highest level.
The Governor said after watching water pushed into the Long Island Sound and gathering data, he was moved to issue the warning. Malloy said another 5 to 7 feet could be added to the sea levels.
He said there would be time later to find out who didn't do what they were supposed to, but said people who hadn't left when they initially could have—and probably should have, considering the evacuation orders issued—will likely be stuck where they are.
He urged those now surrounded by water not to attempt to leave. If water is all around your home, stay in it. Move upwards, not out into the water to try and flee. Sit tight, even if it means climbing onto the roof, he said. Power outages would be for an "extended period of time," he said.
"It's evident that some shoreline towns did not urge residents to evacuate," the governor's office said in a statement. "It's also clear some did not heed the calls to evacuate."
Shortly after, he issued a statement saying all state employees should refrain from coming to work Tuesday.
The Red Cross issued a statement saying 6-inches of fast-flowing water is enough to knock you over, and 2-feet of water can float a car, so do not get into thte water, whatever you do.
Norwalk currently has 17,827 without power, 60-percent of CL&P's customer base.
Updated, 8:30 p.m.
16,800 now without power. 56-percent of customers in Norwalk.
Updated, 7:30 p.m.
16,169 now without power. 54-percent of customers in Norwalk.
Updated, 7:00 p.m.
12,448 customers are without power in Norwalk according to CL&P. That's 41-percent of their customer base in the city. Deteriorating conditions are keeping most emergency and maintenance service personnel inside and out of the dangerous elements of the storm. Be prepared to tough it out for an extended period of time.
Sewage backups have also become a serious threat after the wastewater treatment plant was seriously damaged. Initial reports indicate it could be out of commission for several weeks.
Updated, 4:16 p.m.
Planet Fitness has just announced it will open its doors to all members of the community, members and non-members alike, for anyone who might need to utilize their facilities for a hot shower or to use the locker rooms.
Locations for Planet Fitness centers in Connecticut can be found here.
Update, 3:31 p.m.
Planned power outages for SNEW service district will take place when electricity cuts off between 4-5:30 p.m. CL&P districts south of McKinley Avenue were scheduled to experience outages at approximately 3 p.m.
The total without power in Norwalk right now is 2,175, according to CL&P, which is 7-percent of the customer base there.
Update, 3:15 p.m.
The very helpful Elizabeth Broncati filled us in down in the comments:
The Main office of Norwalk Public Schools just sent out messages that the schools are closed Wednesday as well.
Update, 2 p.m.
Speaking in the city's Emergency Operations Center at Police Headquarters earlier, Mayor Richard A. Moccia urged people not to call 911 for non-emergency purposes.
Moccia said people wanting to report trees down and other storm-related matters should call the city's Customer Service Center at (203) 854-3200. It will remain open 24 hours a day.
Moccia said about 3,300 residents live in flood prone areas of the city. He said it's unknown how many have evacuated.
As of the time of the briefing, 80 people were in the city's shelter at Brien McMahon High School. It's located at 300 Highland Ave.
Moccia said the city's public schools will be closed Wednesday.
Update, 1:45 p.m.
Dozens of people have been rescued from flooded areas of the
city by firefighters in continuing operations.
The need for rescues has been particularly acute south of
Woodward Avenue in South Norwalk.
Meantime, the city is facing the threat of not being able to
receive incoming sewage at the Wastewater Treatment Plant on
South Smith Street.
At a briefing Monday morning, Dept. of Public Works director
Hal Alvord said the plant is no longer processing sewage, and is storing
incoming sewage for later processing.
Alvord said the plant may become completely disabled, which
could cause sewage to back up into buildings and come up through manholes at various locations in the city.
Alvord said the sewage pumping station on Belle Island is submerged. He said it is imperative that residents there stop flushing toilets and using water. Otherwise, he said, sewage may back up into residences.
Alvord said the sewage pumping station on Sammis Street is
running on a generator and it’s unknown how long it will continue functioning.
He said there are ten other sewage pumping stations in the city at risk of failing.
Updated, 1:07 p.m.
Only 7 customers are reporting power outages as of 1:07 p.m., according to CL&P.
Updated, 12:21 p.m.
Belle Island sewage pumping station has failed. Per DPW, residents must stop flushing toilets/Creating waste water. There is a threat of backup floods. According to CL&P, .
Updated, 10:43 a.m.
The city will be picking up garbage and recycling on Monday as usual, according to a phone announcement.
Hurricane Sandy is moving into the area for a while, so, before things get serious, I wanted to take the time to address everyone.
Patch is going to be here bringing you as much information as is available throughout the whole progression of this event. Watch this space for updates. When I learn something, this is where I'll be sharing it. You will also be able to follow along with me on Twitter and Facebook.
Here's a breakdown of things we already know:
- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is anticipated to ban trucks from Connecitcut interstates later with expected high winds reaching 90mph between 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. (9:04am)
- Sandy will be unprecedented. Connecticut is currently in a state of emergency.
- All state parks will be closed Monday.
- According to the American Red Cross Connecticut Regional Chapter, "As of midnight, 461 people staying in 12 Red Cross shelters in Connecticut." Shelter will available at Brien McMahon HS on Highland Ave. The shelter is pet friendly. It is advised to bring necessary supplies to stay overnight such as medications, sleeping bags, etc.
- Public schools will be closed through Tuesday.
- City Hall will remain open Monday. According to the city's website:
The City continues to monitor and track Sandy. Residents are asked to take time to prepare their homes, families and pets. You can get more information here.
- The city has issued a PDF map detailing Norwalk flood zones to allow residents in those areas to adequately prepare.
- All Urgent Care Centers CT will be closed Monday and are currently scheduled to reopen Tuesday.
- Main and Sono branches of the Norwalk Library will be closed through Tuesday.
- Metro-North & Amtrak services have been cancelled for Monday. 5,000 flights have also been canceled.