Published October 26. 2012 10:00AM Updated October 28. 2012 12:06AM
Throughout the region Friday, towns and cities were preparing for the worst, taking lessons learned from last year's Tropical Storm Irene. They prepared to open emergency shelters, filled sandbags, cleared out storm drains and made sure equipment and generators were fueled and ready to go.
For more information, visit individual town websites, related Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.
EAST LYME (Updated 5:05 p.m. Saturday)
The multi-town shelter will open at 4 p.m. Sunday at East Lyme Middle School, 31 Society Road.
The shelter will serve the towns of East Lyme, New London, Waterford, Old Lyme, Lyme and Montville, East Lyme Emergency Management Director Richard Morris said.
Residents may bring pets, but they should also bring a collar, leash, cage and proof of shots, Morris said.
The facility will be operated by the American Red Cross. The pet shelter will be operated by the Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control Officer, he said.
For more information, call East Lyme Emergency Management at (860) 739-4434.
Emergency management officials are closely monitoring an impending storm and have begun making preparations for possible flooding and power outages.
"We are ensuring we have everything in place to act on information from the National Weather Service," Jeffrey Williams, deputy director of emergency management, said.
"This storm is a little trickier then most," he said. "We don't know where this thing is going to come ashore. All we can do is to continue to monitor the storm. With the size of it, we're going to feel something."
Williams said Groton residents are urged to make their own preparations in the event of power loss or flooding, especially along the shore and low-lying neighborhoods. The storm comes at a time of astronomical high tides, which could lead to tidal flooding, Williams said.
"This is going to be an extended storm," he said. "We urge residents to be prepared as much as they can, especially those in areas that typically flood."
Generators have been placed in some key municipal buildings, at the sewage treatment plant and at pump houses to avoid any sewage backups.
Portions of Groton are covered by Groton Utilities and Connecticut Light & Power. Williams said the town will be in contact with both companies for situational updates.
If needed, a shelter would be opened at Fitch High School, and would include a section to accommodate family pets. The Senior Center is a backup shelter.
Residents can look for updates posted on the town website at www.groton-ct.gov.
Mayoral Assistant Mark Bancroft said the town is clearing culverts and drains, and encourages residents to clean out storm drains in front of their homes.
The fire and public works departments have made sure pumps are working properly. If there is a massive power outage in town, CL&P representative Jane Seidl will be in town, likely at the emergency operations center that would be set up in the basement of Ledyard High School.
The high school also would act as a shelter for residents who have lost power, with more than 150 cots and showers available. If there is a large storm event, such as with Irene, the shelter will be manned 24/7, Bancroft said. Town Hall on Colonel Ledyard Highway also will be staffed 24/7, and all communications will come from the mayor's office.
Residents can find updates from the town through its website at www.town.ledyard.ct.us, local radio stations, the town's emergency alert system, Everbridge, the town's Facebook page as well as the Ledyard Gales Ferry Community forum on Facebook.
The first Everbridge alert already has been sent out to residents alerting them of the town's preparations and asking residents to review their storm safety plans and prepare for power outages.
The town website has a number of reminders for residents at the top of the homepage, asking them to register for the town's emergency alert system for phone, email and text alerts; a link to the Red Cross website for tips on preparing a home survival kit; and a link to the Federal Emergency Management Agency website, where residents can review resources on hurricane preparation.
Chief Tom Brown of the Lyme Fire Co. said the town's well-established procedures are in place and crews are ready to perform any necessary roadwork.
Brown said the town will keep its fire stations open during the storm and hopes to be able to provide residents with showers and drinking water, if needed.
Mayor Ronald McDaniel said the town is looking over its emergency operation plans — going over its priority list for where power should be restored in the event of an outage, and preparing its public works trucks.
Town workers are clearing clogged storm drains and making sure generators around town are fueled. In preparation for rising water, the town's floating docks have been removed and filled sandbags are available to the public.
McDaniel said residents should have an emergency kit prepared and should stock up on anything they might need at home.
Residents looking for more information can visit the town website at www.townofmontville.org or Fire Marshal Ray Occhialini's emergency management Facebook page.
NEW LONDON (Updated 4:05 p.m. Saturday)
Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio on Saturday afternoon declared a state of emergency in the city in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy's arrival, recommending that residents of low-lying areas evacuate because of the likelihood of heavy flooding. See full story here.
Friday, Finizio said he has authorized the Emergency Operations Center to be open on Sunday or Monday, depending on the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
In coordination with the American Red Cross, state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and the New London Board of Education, the emergency relocation center for the City of New London will be at Winthrop School, 74 Grove St.
Finizio, in a news release, said he has ordered all necessary city preparations to be completed by Monday. The Public Works Department will be placing sandbags at known flood areas in order to alleviate the effects of anticipated flooding.
Public Works will secure city property — such as hanging plants and garbage cans downtown — in order to limit damage to storefronts and residential windows. Storm drain tops will be cleared by Monday and the Bank Street pump has been tested and is fully operational in anticipation of high levels of rain, Finizio said.
Finizio has authorized the transfer station to be open Saturday so residents will be able to clear bulky garbage in preparation for the storm. There will be no bulky waste pickup the day after the storm.
Residents may to fill their own sandbags at 109 Crystal Ave. Bring your own bags and shovels.
The town of North Stonington has provided the following emergency contact information for residents:
• If you have an emergency, call 911.
• For general information about the storm, please call 211.
• If you need a non-emergency basement pump-out, call the North Stonington Volunteer Fire Company (860) 535-0937.
• To report downed trees or power lines please call the Public Works Department (860) 535-0924.
• For all other questions, the selectmen's office will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and may be reached at (860) 535-2877, ext. 10.
First Selectman Nick Mullane said there are not a lot of things to do ahead of Sandy's arrival — town officials can only sit and wait to see what the storm's effects will be.
"We're basically spending today getting ready, making sure everything's up to date," he said Friday.
For now, Mullane said, staff going through and making sure all of the town's generators are filled with fuel and gathering equipment to clear any damage — like chainsaws for downed trees.
Mullane said he has identified 15 trouble spots on town roads where water could rise. The town has been communicating with highway crews who have signs ready if water does flood roads.
New Town Hall on Main Street will have someone staffing the building 24/7 beginning whenever the storm arrives to respond to anyone with any issues in town. Staff will have radio equipment and extra phones set up for any resident who may need them.
If large parts of the town do lose electricity during the storm, North Stonington Elementary School, which has a backup generator, will serve as a shelter.
NORWICH (Updated 5:05 p.m. Saturday)
The city emergency management director is calling for a voluntary evacuation of all mobile home parks and flood-prone residences after 2 p.m. Monday, when the city's emergency shelter at Kelly Middle School opens.
Emergency Management Director Gene Arters said the new shelter at Kelly also will be open for anyone who feels uncomfortable staying in their homes during the storm. The shelter will be open for the duration of the storm.
While the Kelly shelter can accommodate pets in a segregated room, pet owners are encouraged to make alternative arrangements, as only service animals will be allowed in the human shelter area.
In anticipation of high winds reaching the city by Sunday night, the Norwich Public Works Department is canceling trash and recycling collections on Monday.
Collections throughout the city will follow a holiday week schedule, with most collections pushed back one day.
Last winter's completion of the $40 million renovation to the Kelly Middle School included preparing the building to serve as the city's new emergency shelter, with generators and rooms appropriate for the use.
Norwich emergency officials and Norwich Public Utilities officials participated in conference calls with officials from the National Weather Service today and will do so again Saturday and Sunday.
Follow Norwich Public Utilities on Twitter: @nputilities
OLD LYME (Updated 10:10 p.m. Saturday)
First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder on Saturday declared a local state of emergency.
Bags and sand are available at the town garage at 3 Machnik Drive, off Hatchetts Hill Road, for residents who need them. Shovels are available at the garage.
The Office of Emergency Management advises residents to take several safety measures, as its operations center monitors the approach of Hurricane Sandy and increases storm preparedness, according to a press release issued Friday.
Residents are advised to stay informed on the latest forecasts and storm conditions, secure home and yard fixtures, including propane tanks and lawn furniture, and inspect gutters and down spouts for drainage and runoff. The center tells residents to restock an emergency preparedness kit to be "self-sufficient for at least three days," register cellphones and electronic devices at CTAlert.gov to receive storm updates, and follow Old Lyme Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter, said the release.
The storm's effects on the town could encompass hurricane-force winds, coastal and inland flooding during high tide cycles, which will be heightened by Monday's full moon, and rainfall for days that could impact low-lying areas and lead to flooding from local rivers and streams, the release said.
The town said it will issue information on the storm daily. For additional information or questions, contact the Office of Emergency Management at (860) 434-1605, ext. 231. For further information on storm preparedness, click here.
Follow Old Lyme Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter: @OldLymeEOC
OLD SAYBROOK (Updated 8:30 p.m. Saturday)
First Selectman Carl Fortuna on Saturday declared a local state of emergency.
Old Saybrook officials have posted an emergency evacuation notice, effective Sunday, on the website www.stormsandy.com. The notice applies to residents "located in an area that will flood or will become isolated from the rest of the Town." Officials will at 8:30 a.m. Sunday begin knocking on the doors of homes south of Route 1 to let residents know about the voluntary evacuation.
Residents in the evacuation zones can seek shelter north of Interstate 95 with family, friends or in a hotel, or at the Town Evacuation Center, at Old Saybrook High School, 1111 Boston Post Road.
The center will open at 5 p.m. Sunday. Pets are not allowed at the shelter.
All municipal parks and beaches, as well as municipal buildings, will be closed at 2 p.m. Sunday. All sports and other extracurricular activities will also be canceled as of 2 p.m. Municipal buildings will remain closed until further notice.
The storm website is being updated with information and alerts. The town provided the following information:
On the mobile-friendly site, you will be able to interact with town Twitter and Facebook accounts. Residents may post pictures of storm damage, read a live blog from our Emergency Operations Center, view weather radar, listen to recordings of public safety messages, as well as report trees and wires down.
The site also will offer information such as where to take hot showers, and get water and food. It will list open fuel and food establishments, where to charge your electronic devices, as well as safety related information pertaining to creating a family disaster plan, what to bring to a shelter, and how to prepare your home for the upcoming storm.
If needed, the site will detail emergency evacuation information.
Old Saybrook Public Schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
Elections and the storm
Adam Stillman, the Democratic candidate for the 23rd House District, is asking that residents take down his signs and keep them indoors until the storm passes.
The election's important, Stillman said. "But the fact is, we would feel horrific if someone got hurt if the signs were left out."
First Selectman Robert Congdon said the town applied for a $100,000 state capital improvement grant to replace the aging and unreliable generator at Preston Plains Middle School, the town's emergency shelter. The natural gas generator was installed recently and has been tested and works fine, Congdon said.
If necessary, the school would be opened for residents to take showers, recharge battery-powered devices and to obtain fresh water.
Congdon also has been in contact with the town's designated Connecticut Light & Power liaison, hoping that power communication problems from Tropical Storm Irene last year will be averted.
Town officials involved in emergency preparations met Thursday and again this morning at the police station to plan for the storm.
First Selectman Ed Haberek said highway department crews, who will be on duty all weekend cleaning clogged storm drains, already have begun filling the 2,000 sand bags needed to shore up the Pawcatuck dike. He said the town has also brought in a tree-trimming company to cut down dangerous trees that the town had targeted for removal.
Haberek said he has spoken with the Connecticut Light & Power liaison, who will arrive at the town's emergency operations center on Sunday and stay there for the duration of the storm to help coordinate power restoration with local emergency officials.
The town took advantage of CL&P's offer of a liaison during Tropical Storm Irene last year and was able to restore power more quickly than surrounding towns did.
Haberek said CL&P is again making the offer to towns and he quickly said yes because of how well it worked the last time.
He said he expects the town to open its emergency operations center early Monday. He said he also plans to issue a voluntary evacuation order for low-lying areas, such as Masons Island, which were cut off last year when flood waters swamped the causeway.
He said the town's fire departments will be meeting with emergency officials on Saturday morning.
Haberek, who won praise for his handling of Irene and his hourly social media updates for residents, has again taken to Facebook, Twitter and the town website to keep residents apprised of preparations and warnings.
Haberek also asked residents not to put fallen leaves out near the streets because they will end up in storm drains and worsen flooding.
He said the town is reaching out to the elderly and people with medical needs to make sure they are prepared with supplies, such as oxygen.
Haberek said water and ready-to-eat meals are being stockpiled at the Human Services Department. During the storm, residents with medical needs can plug in equipment they need at the firehouses and police department. Haberek said the centers will not be for people looking charge laptops and cellphones.
First Selectman Dan Steward said Friday that town and emergency preparedness officials met and that the town is making sure its employees and trucks are ready, even preparing snowplows, just in case. He said town employees have been cleaning drains and culverts to alleviate flooding, filling sandbags and making sure fuel tanks are full. He said the town also has been talking with school officials about their preparations.
"But we're not going to know anything for sure until Monday, when this thing hits," he said.
Since Tropical Storm Irene last year, Steward said, Connecticut Light & Power crews have been cutting down some trees in town that posed a threat to power lines.
"I hope that helps keep us (from) losing power," he said.
Steward said the town also will be taking advantage of an offer by CL&P to have a company liaison in town during the storm to help coordinate power restoration efforts.
He said town officials will continue to meet and prepare over the weekend. The town will use its emergency management Facebook page, its emergency alert system and Metrocast public access to keep residents informed.
"And if we have to, we can put up signs and use bullhorns," he said.
Steward said the town is calling residents with special needs to make sure they have what they need and are safe.
Southeastern Connecticut's two hospitals are also taking stock of the weather predictions and making sure they are prepared.
"Our emergency operations team met today to assess our preparedness in case the storm is prolonged," Shawn Mawhiney, spokesman for The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich, said Friday.
The hospital has checked emergency generators for both the main hospital and Backus satellites, and has reviewed inventories food, pharmaceuticals, linens and bottled water to make sure it has enough to last several days if needed, he said.
Mawhiney said hospital officials will monitor the situation over the weekend.
Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London has taken similar steps, spokesman Mike O'Farrell said.
L&M's Emergency Preparedness Team has reviewed its pre-event checklist to ensure adequate supplies are on hand and back-up systems are in place, he said.
"We have checked our generators," said Ron Kersey, L&M's emergency services coordinator. "We have the necessary supplies. We have checked our communications system. We have prepared our Incident Command Center and are ready to open it quickly if necessary."
Both hospitals said they are ready to make staffing adjustments if necessary, including having some staff ready for extended stays before or after their shifts.
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
University of Connecticut (Updated 4:45 p.m. Saturday)
For the time being, classes will take place as scheduled on Monday and Tuesday. All employees should report to work on those days.
In the event of a power outage, call UConn's 24-hour emergency information line on the Storrs campus: (860) 486-3768.
For more information on closures at the Avery Point campus during power outages, call (860) 405-9000/9020.
Sign up for UConn alerts at alert.uconn.edu.
The center will open at 5 p.m. Sunday. Pets are not allowed at the shelter.