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Blizzard lessons

By David Collins

Publication: The Day

Published February 15. 2013 4:00AM

I learned a few things from the Blizzard of 2013:

• New London Mayor Finizio may be more a doer than a delegator.

When Sunday morning rolled around on Coit Street in New London, and no one had seen a plow, residents pitched in and began clearing the street themselves.

Other mayors, in similar situations, may have dispatched a plow when they heard about residents shoveling their own street.

Finizio grabbed a shovel instead and pitched in, too.

• We should all check with Ledyard Mayor John Rodolico before booking a vacation.

Rodolico, apparently a mayor with perfect timing, was in China when Hurricane Sandy hit Connecticut. Last week, for the blizzard, he was on a cruise. (No, not that one.)

Maybe we would all be better off if we could convince Rodolico to stay home for his next vacation.

• Speaking of good timing, Gov. Malloy could not have picked a better week to unveil a budget likely to enrage municipal leaders around the state than the eve of a major snowstorm.

Instead of hammering the governor about his proposal to take away car tax revenue from cities and towns, Connecticut's mayors and selectmen were busy directing public works crews in the storm cleanup.

Malloy was busy deploying for the storm a bloated state staff he foolishly agreed not to cut during the last budget crisis.

The state may be out of money, but state roads looked pretty clear soon after the snow stopped Saturday.

• Boats around here sink in blizzards as well as in hurricanes.

The one that sank this week at a Mystic dock actually went down after the snow stopped falling. It seems the snow accumulated more on one side of the boat than the other, and, well, it was all downhill from there.

• Before Sandy, I had never heard a meteorologist use the term "European Model" in forecasting.

But after another forecasting bull's eye last week, like the one that predicted Sandy's crazy left-hook storm path, I will now look out for anything a European model is showing.

• Connecticut Light & Power seems to do better with blizzard power restoration than hurricane restoration.

Maybe practice makes perfect.

It had to help, though, that power outages were concentrated here in eastern Connecticut.

• Connecticut College takes a Zen-like approach to canceling classes.

On Friday morning, even before the snow started, the college announced administrative offices would be closed for the day. Classes, however, were a different matter.

"Students should check with their professors before assuming class is canceled," the college said on its website.

Most other schools went with the traditional thumbs up or thumbs down on snow cancellations.

• I learned from Ed Ingalls, owner of Connecticut Home Generators, that the cost of a home generator has been falling in recent years.

That's good news in this, the new age of the generator.

In general, the generator business is hotter than a July heat wave, Ingalls told me, now that power-killing storms are hitting like clockwork.

"It's no longer something people think of as a luxury," said Ingalls, who said installed generator systems, which will replace important household electrical circuits, like the ones servicing furnaces, well pumps and refrigerators, start at about $1,400.

• For generator do-it-yourselfers, it may not be so easy to power up in time for the next big storm.

Bill Johnson Jr., vice president of Johnson's Hardware in Groton, said they sold out of generators before the blizzard struck. The warehouse is sold out, too.

Johnson said his full power standalone generators start at around $500.

"Given the frequency of these storms, we are probably going to have to adjust our inventory levels," he said.

• Blizzards last longer but feel somehow softer and quieter than hurricanes.

• Connecticut television Channel 3 names winter storms after the children of staff members. It's an odd but old custom, a staff member told me.

Maybe instead they should name contorted Connecticut budget proposals after the governor in office.

In that case, we would all be coping in the weeks ahead with Storm Dannel.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

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