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Hurricane Sandy West Hartford Info Center: [UPDATED: Tuesday, 12:10 p.m.]

Town moves into damage assessment and power restoration phase. 'Clear/Make Safe' is the plan for dealing with road closures and downed power lines on Tuesday.

[UPDATE] Tuesday, Oct. 30, 12:10 p.m.

Director of Public Works John Phillips reported that after a morning assessment of West Hartford, approximately 30 percent of the town appears to have some damage from the storm, most of it relatively light.

There are approximately a dozen roads in town partially closed due to downed trees and wires. Phillips said that the Department of Public Works has been working with CL&P since daybreak to de-energize lines in affected areas so tree work can commence.

Phillips said that there is no residential restoration work underway because damage assessment has to come first.

"People should not expect power today. If anything, outages will increase as service is turned off to de-energize lines," Phillips said.

Some of the major outages are in the area where Boulevard intersects Mountain Rd. and Ridgewood Rd. where a large pine tree and wires are blocking the road, and Hunter Rd. at Cedar Ledge.

Hunter Rd. at Soby is completely blocked off with no access at all, and Phillips said that de-energizing those wires and creating access is a priority, with some progress estimated by mid day.

The wire affected on Boulevard is a 23,000 volt line, so Phillips said it is complicated to de-energize it without affecting power to other residents.

Other major road blockages include Albany Ave. (Route 44) on Avon Mountain west of Resevoir #6 due to a tree and wires blocking all lanes. Boulevard is also closed at S. Quaker Lane

Early this morning CL&P's outage map indicated that just over 4,000 residents (14 percent) in West Hartford were without power. That number has climbed to 4,454, or 15 percent, as of 12:10 p.m.

"In most cases there is light to moderate damage, most of which is managable at the local/residential level," Phillips said.

However, five or six homes have tree breeches, the heaviest of which is on Auburn Rd. (see photo), Phillips said.

Schools: Power is out at Aiken, Bristow, and Charter Oak. "Our hope is that power is restored and we can have school tomorrow," said Mayor Scott Slifka Tuesday morning. An announcement will be forthcoming later this afternoon.

Power: In addition to power outages affecting homes and schools, Cornerstone Aquatics Center, Veterans Memorial Rink, and Fire Station #2 are without power. Hughes Health and Rehabilitiation is also without a power, and the town will be providing that nursing home facility with a generator.

Shelter: As Mayor Slifka stated in Tuesday morning's recorded update, the town will not be opening a shelter. However, Elmwood Community Center will be open available as a "Convenience Center" until 8 p.m. The libraries are also open and residents can use those facilities to charge electronic devices.

Trash: Pickup of trash and recycling is taking place on Tuesday. Phillips reported that collection was light, and crews will be making a second pass through today's collection areas to pick up what was not placed out earlier in the morning. "We appreciate our contractor's efforts," he said.

Halloween: Mayor Slifka said there are "no present plans to cancel Halloween" since the majority of the town does have power and he anticipates that school will be in session on Wednesday.

However, he suggests that every neighborhood make a decision based on the condition of their area since it varies widely from block-to-block. "Trick-or-treating is not a town-sponsored activity. I trust our residents to make responsible decisions for their children."

Slifka's message to his own 4-year-old daughter: "Keep the hope alive, and let Daddy get more facts before he can make an informed decision."

CL&P: Both Slifka and Phillips have been pleased with the cooperation and communication they have been getting from CL&P thus far.

"The field crews have been embedded with DPW since early this morning and we are on the same page with our priorities," Phillips said. That crew will be working with his department on a 12-hour shift, roughly from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., he said.

"So far the flow of information with our liaison has been excellent, but we are entering a more challenging phase now. Restoration is harder to target," Slifka said.

"The potential for tension gets higher, but so far, so good," said Slifka, who added that he has thus far been getting pertinent information in real time.

Police: Chief Tracey Gove said that activity picked up in town late Monday. Between 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, there were 173 calls for service, mostly reports of hazardous conditions.

In addiiton to houses breached by trees, Gove said that five cars parked on Westphal St. were damaged from a fallen tree. However, he said, "There were no storm-related traffic accidents, and no storm-related medical calls" in West Hartford.

There were two other major police incidents in town, including a car chase which resulted in a stolen vehicle crashing into the Elmwood Community Center and a foot chase which occurred in the Steven St. area. Damage to the Elmwood Community Center, which is open Tuesday, was non-structural, Gove said.

The police department is staffed by 32 officers on duty on Tuesday, and Gove does not anticipate the same call volume. He plans to reassess staffing after this afternoon's briefing at the Emergency Operations Center.

Traffic: As of Tuesday morning, eight major intersections did not have traffic lights, including Flatbush Ave./New Park, and New Britain Ave. from South St. to the Hartford line. Phillips said that the town is using its entire supply of portable four-way stop signs, and residents should use extra caution.

Clean-up: Phillips said that West Hartford is NOT planning a town-wide collection of debris. Folllowing clean up of their property, residents should take their waste to the recycling center. Only light branches that can easily fit should be placed in leaf bags.

"Leaf composting and wood composting are two totally different things," he said. A town-wide pickup would be very expensive and Phillips does not think that West Hartford will qualify for FEMA reimbursement for the clean-up from this storm.

 

[UPDATE] Tuesday, Oct. 30, 8:40 a.m.

In West Hartford, 4,077 CL&P customers (14 percent) are currently without power. Statewide outages are approximatly 38 percent – 477,538 customers – in the dark as of 8:40 a.m.

As of last night, town officials reported that Aiken and King Philip schools were without power. A resident informed Patch this morning that Charter Oak International Academy does not have power either.

Information about restoration estimates will be provided following a briefing of town officials later this morning and this story will be updated.

At 8 a.m. Tuesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy lifted the travel ban. He announced that Connecticut's highways were open but asked people to use caution on both state and local roads.

While winds are no longer at dangerous levels, gusts of up to 40 mph are still forecast for today, so please use caution when you are outside.

If you have storm related photos to share, please upload them directly to the "Photos of Hurricane Sandy in West Hartford" article or email them to ronni.newton@patch.com.

You can also share in the storm conversation on Patch's live blog.

Please remain safe, and check back for additional update on power restoration, school reopening, Halloween, etc.

 

[UPDATE] Monday, Oct, 29, 6:10 p.m.

The following updates were received from West Hartford town officials on Monday evening:

Schools: West Hartford Public Schools will remain closed on Tuesday, primarily because the highway ban, which has not yet been lifted, may prevent bus drivers, teachers, and other staff from getting to work. Power is out at Aiken and King Philip, likely due to a tree that fell on a primary line in Bloomfield. Power is expected to be restored to those schools sometime on Tuesday.

Department of Public Works: Trash and recycling will be picked up on Tuesday. However, Director of Public Works asks that residents wait until the morning to put their barrels at the curb. "We will be out of danger from damaging winds by midnight," Phillips said. Collections will begin one hour later, at 7:30 a.m., to allow residents to get their trash and recycling out.

Shelter: West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka said there are no plans at the moment to open the shelter. "We are hoping that the weather will continue in a way that we won't have to, but we are ready to go if we need them. We remain in a holding pattern," Slifka said.

Slifka said that one of the main differences between this storm and last October's storm is the impact of the highway closures. That was the primary reason the town had to keep schools closed on Tuesday. "People are at home and off the roads. We had to send our non-essential staff home, and it will remain that way until the ban is lifted," he said.

 

[UPDATE] Monday, Oct. 29, 12:15 p.m.

West Hartford officials and department heads met Monday morning in the Emergency Operations Center for a briefing about the town's preparations for Hurricane Sandy.

"We are as prepared as we can be for what's coming," said Interim Fire Chief Gary Allyn, who heads West Hartford's Emergency Operations Committee.

Allyn said that updated forecasts indicate the highest wind threat to the area will be from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, which is a shorter duration than originally forecast. The outer winds are not as fierce and the storm appears to be tightening, Allyn said, but cautions that the forecast could change again because the storm has not yet completed its projected turn yet.

"This is a wind event, and we've been through wind events," said Allyn. The rainfall totals for the area are now projected at only 1 to 3 inches in 48 hours.

"We know there will be outages," Allyn said, but added that having CL&P's liaison Anne Bartosewicz in the Emergency Operations Center has given us "a lot more decision making capability."

The town also has a new tools available to keep informed, including a "dashboard" that collects and funnels feeds from various sources to assist with decision making.

Specific information released Monday morning includes the following:

Department of Public Works: Trash and recycling pickup is taking place on Monday. DPW crews are also picking up leaf bags that have been placed at the curb. Information about pickup for Tuesday will be released later this afternoon.

Schools: A decision will be made later this afternoon about whether or not schools will open on Tuesday. Patch will transmit that information as soon as it is available. Students from Conard and Hall are available to assist in setting up shelters if necessary.

Police: Chief Tracey Gove said that right now everything is "business as usual." The police department has a full contingent of officers on duty, with 10 extra available due to school closures and the cancellation of training sessions. "We are fully stocked and supplied," Gove said.

Public Health: Staff members have been checking with all nursing homes in town to ensure that they have generators in place. A few have extra beds."If we have to open a shelter and there are residents with special needs, we will move them [to those nursing home beds] because of the available nursing expertise," said Public Relations Specialist Renée McCue.

Human Services: There are approximately 300 individuals in West Hartford who have been identified as having special needs. Manager of Social Services Susan Huliett said that calls are being made to all of those people to ensure that they are okay, have provisions, and have someone available to assist them should the need arise. All are being informed that they can contact the Emergency Operations Center at 860-523-2020 and if there is an emergency they should call 911.

"I hope and plea that neighbors will check on these people," said Director of Human and Leisure Services Jim Capodiece. He said that once a decision is made to open a shelter and special needs transportation is available, those individuals who need to be relocated will be transported.

Community Services: The department is fully staffed. The generator at Town Hall is installed and ready, and is critical for maintaining power to West Hartford's IT network, the police station, Elmwood Community Center, and the library.

Voter Registration: Registration has been extended until Thursday, Nov. 1.

Plant and Facilities: Additional electricians are on staff to deal with generators or other issues that arise.

 

ORIGINAL STORY

West Hartford Public Schools and all of the private schools in town are closed on Monday. The Emergency Operations Center opens Monday morning.

West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka sent out a recorded message Sunday evening, asking residents to "shelter in place." Once storm damage has been assessed, a decision about whether or not to open a shelter at the Elmwood Community Center will be made.

"We are in a holding pattern right now," Slifka said, although everything is set up and ready to be activated. A State of Emergency has not yet been declared.

As we hunker down to ride out Hurricane Sandy, we want to make sure that West Hartford stays connected. For live updates during the storm, be sure to download our App for your smartphone or tablet and 'like' West Hartford Patch on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

As you send us messages through social media, email (ronni.newton@patch.com), or text message (860-249-9624), we’ll make sure the information is added here to this story in the comments. If you notice wires down or a tree across the road, please alert authorities and then let us know so we can spread the word quickly. You can also comment right on this story to make sure readers know what’s going on in your neighborhood.

The effects of Irene and last October's storm are hard for us to forget and at times, water, batteries, and gas were scarce about town. You can share info about where to find these items and who has gotten the latest delivery by commenting here.

West Hartford Patch is all about connecting neighbors and helping neighbors so we hope you’ll find this information hub helpful as we brave the storm together. Stay safe West Hartford!

Helpful Links:

Connecticut Alert Emergency Notification System

West Hartford's Community Advisory Notification System (powered by Everbridge)

Emergency Operations Center, West Hartford Police Department, 860-523-2020

West Hartford on Twitter: @TownofWestHrtfd

West Hartford Police on Twitter: @WestHartfordPD

West Hartford Police on Facebook

Connecticut Light & Power

Outage Map

Facebook

Twitter

Tips and Pics

Send West Hartford Patch a news tip about downed wires and trees, power outages, closed roads and more in the comments, on Facebook and Twitter, via email at ronni.newton@patch.com, or by calling or texting 860-249-9624.

Safety comes first, but if you happen to take a picture through your window or out and about once it's safe to leave your homes, upload it here or to our community gallery at westhartford.patch.com/pics. I will make sure your photos are prominently featured.

Sue Farrell October 29, 2012 at 01:22 PM
CVS West Hartford Center just got a delivery of water and other stuff. Pharmacy wasn't open yet at 9AM but they expect a pharmacist to be in. Call before you leave to make sure one is there.
Ronni Newton October 29, 2012 at 03:21 PM
One reader said via Facebook message: "My husband was just at super stop and shop on new park ave. They were pretty well stocked. We were able to buy storm essentials, batteries etc. Wasn't busy in there either."
Ronni Newton October 29, 2012 at 07:54 PM
I received an email from someone who said Sears is getting a shipment of generators. I also heard that COSI in West Hartford Center is closed, and so is Maximum Beverage in Bishops Corner. Add your opening and closing information here!
Keith Griffin October 30, 2012 at 11:14 AM
Charter Oak doesn't have power either. It's across the street from us and we don't have power either.
Jon Gibson October 30, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Does anyone know if the large tree that fell across Hunter Dr. has been cleared?
Cheyney Barrieau October 30, 2012 at 06:09 PM
There about 7 trees across Hunter right now and no removal has started. It could be a LONG time before we are back up and restored.
Catherine October 30, 2012 at 06:10 PM
A.C. Petersen Farms is open and here to serve you with a hot meal or a cool dessert! We are your neighborhood family restaurant and would love to see you!
Ronni Newton October 30, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Hunter Drive will be reopened tonight, according to Director of Public Works John Phillips. He said it will be a four to five hour job, but it will happen.

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