East Lyme - After snow inundated the region and caused power outages Saturday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman visited the regional shelter at East Lyme Middle School Saturday to reassure residents that help was on its way.
"They're moving in everything you need - food and cots. We're trying," said Malloy to a group of four residents at a cafeteria table that included Jacquelyn Goodwin, who came to the shelter Saturday morning. Goodwin lost power Friday evening; she loses power during every storm, she said.
The governor told the residents in the early afternoon that since winds were subsiding, crews could start clearing roads, which may have downed wires, as the first step in the process of restoring power. He sympathized with residents, telling them he understood that being without power can feel "miserable."
Later, as Goodwin sat in the cafeteria, which the American Red Cross had set up with a sandwich station and a table holding containers of coffee and snacks, she said she felt better being at the shelter rather than being home without power.
"Since we're here, it's a lot better," she said.
Malloy, state Rep. Ed Jutila, D-East Lyme, First Selectman Paul Formica and Waterford First Selectman Dan Steward helped bring boxes and cots with Red Cross personnel into the shelter.
"This part of the state was badly hit," Malloy said about his reasons for visiting the region. He said the region's proximity to the water and high winds made it vulnerable to power outages.
In the early afternoon, about seven residents were at the regional shelter, which served residents of East Lyme, Old Lyme, Montville, Waterford and New London. The first guest arrived at about 8 a.m. Saturday, said Ronald Luich, the Red Cross shelter manager. He said how long the shelter would remain open depended on the weather conditions.
By about 3 p.m., more residents began trickling in. Firefighters, police officers and family members accompanied residents, some in wheelchairs or walkers.
By evening, about 87 people were at the shelter and about 100 cots were set up for the night, Formica said.
The National Guard helped bring residents to the shelter Saturday by picking them up in Humvees. There were six National Guard vehicles helping residents in East Lyme, said Fire Marshal Dick Morris.
Among those at the shelter were Waterford residents Bob and Tina Sands, who faced no heat in their house and knee-deep snow in their driveway. The Sands walked into the shelter in good spirits alongside Waterford police Officer Marc Balestracci, who helped carry their belongings. They were thrilled to get a ride from Balestracci to the shelter.
Earlier Saturday, Tina had called the Waterford emergency management department to say they needed help. Police showed up at their door in about an hour, she said.
"Boom - I looked up, and there was this Jeep," said Tina excitedly about the police's quick arrival to take them to the shelter.
"She was so happy," said her husband with a smile.