Greenwich State of Emergency Lifted [UPDATED] [PHOTOS]

Town officials pleased with local response to hurricane, Nor'easter.


Updated, Nov. 9, 5:00 a.m.

With power restored to nearly all homes in Greenwich, shorter lines for gasoline and roadways cleared of downed trees, utility poles and wires, town officials lifted the state of emergency Thursday afternoon.

The Red Cross also closed its emergency shelter at Eastern Middle School as residents have found alternative temporary shelter, according to First Selectman Peter Tesei.

The 11-day long state of emergency began Oct. 29 as Hurricane Sandy with astronomical high tides and 80 mph winds that altered the town's coastline, washing away seawalls and dunes. It was punctuated with the horrific fire at the height of the storm that consumed three waterfront mansions on Binney Lane in Old Greenwich. Firefighters not only fought the wind-whipped raging fireball and rising tides that nearly swamped them, they ended up rescuing 30 residents in the neighborhood who did not heed the mandatory evacuation orders.

Miraculously, no one was injured.

With 80 percent of the town without power, town officials pressed Connecticut Light & Power to assign more crews to help with restoration efforts. Originally, the utility had 14 crews assigned to the town. By the end of last week, there were nearly 200 crews from around the country—from Masschusetts, Indiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and even Quebec. To help clear trees from roads so those crews could make repairs, the National Guard and the US Forest Service were deployed to Greenwich.

As of yesterday afternoon, about 20 customers remained without power—not counting more than 200 whose buildings were damaged and must await town inspections for approval of utility restoration, according to officials.

The hurricane carnage of the town's power grid and dozens of roads impassable, schools were closed for six days and Halloween was postponed. (One of those school days will be made up with classes now scheduled for Nov. 12. And Halloween is now scheduled for Nov. 11.)

With millions without power in the tri-state region, Greenwich was inundated byy motorists from New York and New Jersey in search of gasoline. Long lines at gas stations created gridlock throughout town, prompting the deployment of the Connecticut State Police to control traffic. The last of 10 troopers assigned to Greenwich left at midnight Wednesday, police said.

Of the longest ever state of emergency in Greenwich history, Tesei said, he was more than pleased with performance of town employees and emergency personnel.

"This has exceeded my expectations with the level of cooperation between departments," Tesei said. "What's been learned is there is a rhythym between the departments, they know how to coordinate and rely upon one another. The practicies are pretty standard and they're exemplary."

Tesei said the fire and power loss, along with the possibility that the storm tidal surge could destroy the town's sewage treatment plant at Grass Island, "they are the top two things that rattled my nerves."

In an e-mail sent to all town and school employees Thursday night, Tesei wrote, "I thank you for the dedicated and professional manner that you went about
responding to Hurricane Sandy and last evenings first snow storm - Athena."

He added, "I have immense pride and admiration for the Emergency Management Team lead by Dan Warzoha and all of our Town/School Departmental Managers and employees for rising to the occasion in the face of extreme weather adversity and supporting residents who permanently lost their homes or were out of them for days due to the prolonged power outage."

As officials thought the hurricane emergency operations would be winding down this week, they dealt with a powerful Nor'Easter—dubbed storm Athena—which dumped 6 inches of heavy wet snow. The snow delayed the opening of local schools Thursday and was the cause of several accidents and downed poles.

Police Chief James Heavey said there was a 6-car pileup on Cliffdale Road, a utility pole fell, closing several roads including Glenville and Riversville roads until Thursday afternoon. 

Of the lessons learned, Tesei said, the town will focus with various agencies and property owners "where there is a concentration of our vulnerable residents ... Putnam Hill, Putnam Park, Greenwich Lodge ... Milbank Avenue...the Housing Authority." He said the town will focus on those property owners to provide alternative power sources and services to those residents.

Updated, Nov. 8, 5:40 a.m.

Weather conditions from the first Nor'Easter of the season have prompted Greenwich Public School officials to announce there is a two-hour delayed start of classes for Thursday.

The delay also affects local private schools including Brunswick School, Convent of the Sacred Heart, The Stanwich School, and Carmel Academy, according to those schools' websites.

According to the National Weather Service, there will be rain, snow, and sleet before 9 am, then a slight chance of rain between 9 am and 10 am. High temperature will be near 47. Northwest wind 15 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Total daytime snow and sleet accumulation of less than a half-inch possible.

The weather service's winter weather advisory includes a warning that the heavy wet snow and gusty winds could cause power lines and trees to fall.

Despite the overnight weather conditions of heavy wet snow and gusty winds, power restoration efforts continued. As of 5:30 a.m. Thursday there were 20 Connecticut Light & Power customers in Greenwich without power, according to the utility.

Updated, Nov. 7, 1045p.m.

Greenwich Police report the Merritt Parkway is closed in the area of North Street/Exit 31 because of an accumulation of snow. "It is very treacherous due to an accumulation of snow and ice," said Greenwich Police spokesman Lt. Kraig Gray.

It is is not known when the southbound parkway will be reopened to traffic.


Updated, Nov. 7, 7:25 p.m.

The roads are clogged with cars slip-sliding away because of the heaby, wet snow that's coating the region as winter storm 'Athena' arrived Wednesday evening.

Greenwich town officials urged residents to stay indoors to avoid the 45 to 60 mph wind gusts forecast with the storm as well as the snowy buildup on most local roads. Multiple roads including Round Hill Road, were the scenes of  downed trees laden with heavy, wet snow-covered leaves, and multiple-car crashes, authorities said.

And as high tides approached, officials also urged residents in flood-prone areas to evacuate as higher than normal tides whipped by the wind were expected to flood the coastline that's been altered by Hurricane Sandy. Police left evacuation notices at 350 residences, Police Chief James Heavey said.

Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei said he hoped residents would heed the notice, rather than residents stay behind and later find themselves needing emergency help to leave their homes. He expressed disappointment that so many residents ignored the mandatory evacuation notice before Hurricane Sandy."It puts firefighters at more risk. First and foremost, it is life safety," Tesei said.

Nearly 30 residents were rescued from their homes in the Binney Lane area of Old Greenwich by firefighters who were trying to quell a wind-driven house fire that destroyed three waterfront homes on Oct. 29, Greenwich Fire Chief Peter Siecienski has said.

The arrival of the Nor'Easter couldn't have come at a worse time as town personnel have been taxed by their round-the-clock recovery efforts sice Hurricane Sandy ravaged Greenwich and the region on Oct. 29, Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei said.

"This is Day 10 of the state of emergency. Our personnel get fatigued and need rest and we are rotating people so they get adequate R & R ... There's a human face to the storm response," Tesei said.

Heavey said there were several accidents in town including a six-car pileup on the steep Cliffdale Road bridge. Other problem areas included King Street, Riversville Road, Londonderry Drive, Brookside Drive, according to officials and Wednesday night emergency radio transmissions.

For people who are evacuating their homes or still do not have power restored to their homes, the Eastern Middle School remains open as a around-the-clock Red Cross emergency shelter.


Original story, Nov. 7,1:37 p.m.

Say it ain't snow...as Greenwich and the rest of the tri-state region continues its collective recovery from Hurricane Sandy, the first named winter storm of the season—Athena is dropping snow and sleet Wednesday afternoon.

And Greenwich officials are encouraging residents to make a "voluntary evacuation of immediate coastal areas" as high tides Wednesday evening and Thursday morning are expected "to be several feet above normal," according to Greenwich Police Capt. Mark Kordick's recorded advisory that was delivered by the reverse 911-notification system shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday.

"With an extended period of high winds there is the potential for moderate flooding in low-lying areas with the high tide at 5:01 p.m. tonight and at 5:35 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday) morning," Kordick said. He said the potential flooding is greater "because Hurricane Sandy damaged seawalls and changed the outline of coastal areas and inlets."

Snow and some sleet began falling in Greenwich about noon. Sustained winds of 25 to 30 mph are predicted, along with wind gust of 45 to 60 mph, Kordick said. (For a complete forecast, please see WABC meteorologist Bill Evans' forecast here.)

For residents needing shelter, the Eastern Middle School, 51 Hendrie Ave. in Riverside, is open as an emergency shelter by the Red Cross 24 hours a day, until further notice.

First Selectman Peter Tesei has requested Connecticut Light & Power to "keep their resources already here to stay if repairs are needed," Kordick said. Nearly 200 line, pole and repair crews from around the country and Quebec continue efforts to restore power in town.

As of mid-day about 412 customers are still without power that was lost during Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29. Several residents of mid-country Greenwich and in Byram and Old Greenwich report they remain powerless.

Kordick also warned that storm debris remains along many town roads and urged motorists to drive safely.

Because of the snow, Greenwich Public Schools as several private schools—including Greenwich Academy and Brunswick School—have cancelled after school and evening activities for Wednesday.

Greenwich Patch will provide updates as they become available.

For layout purposes, the timestamp of this story has been updated.

Flick Hyde November 08, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Perhaps people disobeying mandatory evacuation orders should be fined, and made to pay the costs of their rescue, including compensation to rescue personel's families if they are injured or killed. We lived in Greenwich going back to 1955, and as a result of the mid fifties' floods, sought a home on Winthrop Drive in Riverside which remains out of evacuation zone 57 years' years later. The Town needs to stop building and rebuilding in these low lying areas, in absence of a levee. Some people never learn !
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