R E D   C R O S S    " B E   R E A D Y "   V I D E O   H E R E
Blowing east from California or up from the Gulf or maybe grazing the East Coast of Florida, storms eventually get to Weston, usually around...the opening of the school year!



(A) Monday morning Weston awoke to a few inches and then sleet...and then snow @1pm (B).  And it go a lot colder Tuesday (C)...after the highest snow total in the state - 14.3 inches!


Forecasts and what happened in Super Bowl similar to precision found in weather forecasts.  And still going on...

Photo above left, Jan 25;  next, on Jan 26 @3pm;  then Jan 26 @5pm;  snowing lightly since 11am...and before 8am Tues.;
This is the "Emergency - everyone to get from street" page
What that means is "Plan to be sheltering in place for 3 days."  Still snowing on Tuesday (8 inches at my house);

Projected for Bo-Wash corridor:  wrong.  But we'll take it - a relieved First Selectman message!

CHRONOLOGICAL RUN UP IN FORECASTS: Left to right, Sun 9am, 1pm, 9pm;  Mon 9am, 11:15am storm pic

No new messages this morning
so far...except that schools will open and then early in the pm, close (3 hrs early).  Previous Washington POST from DC below.

Code Red update 1/27/15 11:30 am (from a relieved-sounding First Selectman)

Because of lighter-than-expected snowfall and wind in our area, I am happy to report that there have been no power disruptions or other incidents reported during the overnight hours.  I thank all of you who heeded our advice and stayed off the roads. The Governor has lifted the travel ban on local roads in Fairfield County but I do want to remind you that minor storm activity and light snowfall is expected to continue for several hours. Our DPW is still out plowing, so please don’t drive unless necessary.

All Town offices will operate on their regular schedule tomorrow.

Thank you all for your cooperation.

This is a Code Red message from the Town of Weston.
Declaration of a state of emergency Monday, Jan. 26 in the afternoon:  NEWS FROM FORUM.

“Whereas high winds and blizzard conditions may cause power outages and snowfalls totaling well over 24 inches, now, therefore, it is here proclaimed and ordered that the Emergency Operations Plan of the Town of Weston is now activated and all personnel ordered to perform in accordance therewith. A state of emergency is now in effect,” the proclamation states.  The local declaration allows the town to use volunteers for things like staffing a comfort station, allows the town to ask the state and surrounding communities for help during storm clean up, allows the first selectman to make emergency purchases if necessary, and it allows the town to apply for state and federal reimbursement for clean-up costs.
Update at 11:15 a.m.: Let’s talk details about timing — when will the worst conditions occur, and how long will they last?
Morning model runs (GFS, NAM) are suggesting the worst impacts (ie. high snowfall rates and white-out conditions) will spread from N.Y.C. to Boston starting this evening, peaking between Midnight and 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, and then gradually letting up after that.

However, snow is already pushing north from Philadelphia to Connecticut and Rhode Island at this point, and snow (though not intense, white-out condition snow) will linger in these areas through Tuesday afternoon...

From the Washington Post:   http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/01/26/updates-up-to-3-feet-of-snow-expected-in-paralyzing-northeast-blizzard/



One can always hope the the projected storm will do one of two things - stay in Long Island or alternately, do lots of things but spare the power outage part.  But just in case:  Power Outage Blog page here.
  And for those who like visual cues...photo at the top taken Sunday morning.  We hope to measure the magnitude of the snow fall by taking the same view at different times during the blizzard.

Grenade launchers and other war-fighting equipment militarizes CT police

By: Ana Radelat | August 26, 2014

WASHINGTON – Images of Ferguson police dressed in riot gear, riding in massive armored vehicles and using high-power rifles like those used by the U.S .military has touched off a debate on the wisdom of militarizing police forces across the nation, including those in Connecticut, by giving them cast off Pentagon equipment...CT MIRROR story in full.

Now a problem especially for shoreline...we think we heard that this season (2014) would not be a big hurricane season...

Weston did not participate - note that all who did not probably are small towns and may have volunteer fire departments, perhaps.
State Prepares For Hurricane Season With Two-Day Drill
by Hugh McQuaid | Jun 23, 2014 3:28pm

State and local officials concluded a two-day emergency preparedness drill with utility companies Monday to practice responding to natural disasters like hurricanes.

One hundred and sixty-two of the state’s 169 towns participated in the drill, which simulated the aftermath of a Category 1 hurricane. The drill also included the Connecticut’s two Native American tribes and 18 different hospitals.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the drill tested the planning and communication capabilities of the state in an emergency situation. The exercise assumed the storm would knock out power to 70 percent of the state’s electricity customers, which would take an estimated nine to 14 days to restore. He said the drill was designed to impact the entire state.

“Storms and other emergencies are inevitable but the more we all work together, the more we can limit the impact of those disasters with aid reaching those most in need of help, ensuring that roads, schools, and businesses are reopened more quickly and help communities return to normal soon than they otherwise would,” Malloy said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts up to 13 named storms, of which six will become hurricanes, and at least two are expected to be major hurricanes.

“We could have a more robust season or a less robust season, but what we’re doing in Connecticut is what we said we would do and that is to practice, practice, practice to be ready,” he said.

The recent drill was the third such exercise the state has conducted in as many years. It is a policy adopted after a series of major storms caused long-term power outages and highlighted communication problems between towns and the state’s two electric utility companies, Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating. Last year’s drill simulated a severe ice storm in western Connecticut.

“There’s no doubt that we’re better prepared,” Malloy said, adding that the three drills have played a role in that preparedness as has additional work by the utility companies. He said real-world experience with major storms also has helped.

“Suffice it to say that people having been beaten up by five different natural disaster declarations are, I think, responding far better than they would otherwise,” he said.

According to the Emergency Services and Public Protection Department, every town in the state participated in this year’s event except Bridgewater, Bethlehem, Canaan, Columbia, Franklin, Hampton, New Milford, and Weston. The town of Cromwell also did not participate, but the department noted that Cromwell was hosting the Traveler’s Championship this weekend.

Betsy Gara, executive director of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns, said the drill serves as good practice for the state’s municipal leaders.

Gara said coordinated disaster response helps to prioritize efforts like clearing important access roads first and quickly restoring power to local hospitals, fire departments and police stations. She said it also helps local leaders keep their residents updated.

“When storms hit, residents look to their municipal leaders for help and for information. So clear channels of communication are absolutely vital, particularly during a response effort of this magnitude,” she said.

Dec. 21, 2013 beginning of winter...Jan. 3, 2014 snow/bitter cold...was spot on, here in Summer 2014!

"Bitterly cold and snow filled"  Or "warmer" temps and "it's according" or they don't know about precip.

Speaking of the winter of 2013-14 weather, here is a link to a NYTIMES blog:  http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/03/new-york-today-live-snowstorm-updates/?hp

Lots of uncertainty in winter forecast
Friday, November 22, 2013 by:Jim Shay

The National Weather Service has issued its winter outlook forecast, but it isn’t sure what will happen in Connecticut.  No firm predictions on how much, or how little, snow we could get. In fact, they say there is an “equal chance” that we could get more, or less, precipitation between December and February.

And temperatures? Same deal. For southwestern Connecticut, there is an “equal chance” that it will be colder or warmer.

We fall into the “equal chance” category, meaning, according to the NWS,  “there is not a strong or reliable enough climate signal in these areas to favor one category over the others, so they have an equal chance for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and/or precipitation.”

Without getting too technical, The reason for this uncertainty is that neither El Niño nor La Niña is expected to influence the climate during the upcoming winter.

“It’s a challenge to produce a long-term winter forecast without the climate pattern of an El Niño or a La Niña in place out in the Pacific because those climate patterns often strongly influence winter temperature and precipitation here in the United States,” said Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

“Without this strong seasonal influence, winter weather is often affected by short-term climate patterns, such as the Arctic Oscillation, that are not predictable beyond a week or two. So it’s important to pay attention to your local daily weather forecast throughout the winter.”

The NWS says its winter outlook “does not project where and when snowstorms may hit or provide total seasonal snowfall accumulations. Snow forecasts are dependent upon the strength and track of winter storms, which are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.”

To read the full “prognostic discussion” of the winter outlook forecast, click here.

You’ve got to give the National Weather Service credit for saying they really don’t know what will happen.  But that hasn’t stopped other forecasters …

The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that “Winter will be colder and drier than normal, although snowfall will be above normal in most of the region. The coldest periods will be in early and mid-December and in early to mid-February. The snowiest periods will be in early and mid-December, and in early and mid-February.”

The other almanac, The Farmer’s Almanac, says there may even be a snowstorm on Super Bowl Sunday, (Feb 2, Groundhog’s Day).

“Over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, we are “red-flagging” the first ten days of February for possible heavy winter weather. More importantly, on February 2, Super Bowl XLVIII will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey’s Meadowlands—the very first time a Super Bowl will be played outdoors in a typically cold weather environment. We are forecasting stormy weather for this, the biggest of sporting venues. But even if we are off by a day or two with the timing of copious wind, rain, and snow, we wish to stress that this particular part of the winter season will be particularly volatile and especially turbulent.”

The Weather Channel says “A winter of extreme cold or extreme warmth is not expected during the months from December to February. For the Northeast, the best chance for extended cold temperatures is expected to be late in the winter.”

Accuweather: “Winter weather lovers will have to be patient this year, as the start of the season in the East certainly won’t pack a punch in terms of cold or snowfall. Winter will begin mildly, with a long duration of above-normal temperatures. One snow system and some chilly air could come at times during November, however.

“Temperatures will fall in the latter part of the season, likely the beginning of January, allowing snow to fall along the I-95 corridor.”

So there you have it. Not too much agreement on the winter outlook.

I’ll stand by with the National Weather Service’s outlook of … who knows what will happen.


INGRID coming?  How about KAREN?

Tropical Storm Karen Takes Aim at U.S. Gulf Coast
October 3, 2013

MIAMI — Tropical Storm Karen formed in the southeast Gulf of Mexico on Thursday and took aim at the U.S. coast between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle, forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Energy companies began evacuating some workers from oil and natural gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday.  Data from an Air Force Reserve "hurricane hunter" plane indicate that a disturbance in the Gulf had organized into a tropical storm with winds up to 60 mph, the forecasters said.

"Hurricane and tropical storm watches will be issued for portions of the northern Gulf Coast," they said, adding that a full advisory would be issued soon.

The storm was moving north-northwest and forecast models showed it hitting the U.S. coast along Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle during the weekend.  Locally heavy rains could affect parts of Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in the next couple of days, the forecasters said.

2012 Since the Governor has ordered I-95 closed by 1pm Monday, the shift is on!  "Power Outage" tho' Weston had only 2 outages at this time...

Malloy says everything but Hartford to be declared disaster areas
Ana Radelat, CT MIRROR
November 3, 2012

Norwalk -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Saturday he thinks the Obama administration will declare most of Connecticut, with the exception of Hartford County, a major disaster area, opening the door to a variety of aid.

The governor was in Norwalk and Bridgeport Saturday with Lieut. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, and U.S. Small Business Administrator Karen Mills to visit storm-wrecked businesses.  Malloy toured areas of the state hit by Hurricane Sandy Thursday with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

He said Saturday he felt confident she would expand the areas the federal government has already declared major disasters areas -- the four coastal counties of New London, New Haven, Fairfield and Middlesex -- to all counties except Hartford County.

"And we may be close on Hartford County as well," Malloy said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is under the umbrella of Napolitano's HHS, makes recommendations for disaster area declarations based on monetary damages.  Mills urged businesses and homeowners who suffered losses, even if those losses are insured, to apply for low-interest loans from her agency.  When an insurer pays a claim, the borrower could pay down the loan, Mills said.

Businesses can borrow up to $2 million in disaster loans from the SBA, and individuals can borrow up to $200,000.  Borrowers do not have to have collateral, but they must apply for federal flood insurance.  FEMA, which opened disaster recovery centers in Bridgeport and Greenwich, announced it will open three additional ones, in New Haven, Old Saybrook and Groton, where those eligible for federal aid can apply in person.

FEMA also said 2,400 people have registered for federal help in Connecticut, and $368,000 in aid money has been approved.

In New Jersey, more than 49,000 have registered; more than $31 million has been spent. In New York, more than 69,000 people have registered for federal help, at a cost of about $75 million.

Hurricane Sandy a deadly behemoth expected to deliver sheets of rain, high wind, snow...examples above, of downed wires, children at play, and a big tree.
New Haven Register
By The Associated Press
Sunday, October 28, 2012

SHIP BOTTOM, N.J. — Forget distinctions like tropical storm or hurricane. Don't get fixated on a particular track. Wherever it hits, the behemoth storm plodding up the East Coast will afflict a third of the country with sheets of rain, high winds and heavy snow, say officials who warned millions in coastal areas to get out of the way.

"We're looking at impact of greater than 50 to 60 million people," said Louis Uccellini, head of environmental prediction for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

As Hurricane Sandy trekked north from the Caribbean — where it left nearly five dozen dead — to meet two other powerful winter storms, experts said it didn't matter how strong the storm was when it hit land: The rare hybrid storm that follows will cause havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.

Governors from North Carolina, where steady rains were whipped by gusting winds Saturday night, to Connecticut declared states of emergency. Delaware ordered mandatory evacuations for coastal communities by 8 p.m. Sunday.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was criticized for not interrupting a vacation in Florida while a snowstorm pummeled the state in 2010, broke off campaigning for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in North Carolina on Friday to return home.

"I can be as cynical as anyone," said Christie, who declared a state of emergency Saturday. "But when the storm comes, if it's as bad as they're predicting, you're going to wish you weren't as cynical as you otherwise might have been."

Eighty-five-year-old former sailor Ray Leonard agreed. And he knows to heed warnings.

Leonard and two crewmates in his 32-foot sailboat, Satori, rode out 1991's infamous "perfect storm," made famous by the Sebastian Junger best-selling book of the same name, before being plucked from the Atlantic off Martha's Vineyard, Mass., by a Coast Guard helicopter.

"Don't be rash," Leonard said Saturday from his home in Fort Myers, Fla. "Because if this does hit, you're going to lose all those little things you've spent the last 20 years feeling good about."

Sandy weakened briefly to a tropical storm Saturday but was soon back up to Category 1 strength, packing 75 mph winds. It was about 260 miles (420 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and moving northeast at 13 mph as of 5 a.m. Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm was expected to continue moving parallel to the Southeast coast most of the day and approach the coast of the mid-Atlantic states by Monday night, before reaching southern New England later in the week.

It was so big, however, and the convergence of the three storms so rare, that "we just can't pinpoint who is going to get the worst of it," said Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Officials are particularly worried about the possibility of subway flooding in New York City, said Uccellini, of NOAA.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to prepare to shut the city's subways, buses and suburban trains. The city closed the subways before Hurricane Irene last year, and a Columbia University study predicted that an Irene surge just 1 foot higher would have paralyzed lower Manhattan.

Up and down the Eastern Seaboard and far inland, officials urged residents and businesses to prepare in ways big and small...

Federal Forecasters: 9 To 15 Storms This Hurricane Season
Hartford Courant
By MATTHEW STURDEVANT, msturdevant@courant.com
1:34 PM EDT, May 24, 2012

This year's hurricane season is forecast to be a bit quieter than the usual summer of the past three decades, according to the nation's two leading forecast centers.

The season will bring between nine and 15 named storms with winds of 39 mph or greater, according to a forecast released Thursday by the National Hurricane Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The hurricane center said there is a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms, of which four to eight will be hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or great, and one to three will be major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or more.

That's below the average of the period from 1981-to-2010 of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

"NOAA's outlook predicts a less active season compared to recent years," said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. "But regardless of the outlook, it's vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared. We have a stark reminder this year with the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew."

Andrew was a Category 5 hurricane that his South Florida on Aug. 24, 1992.

The National Hurricane Center's prediction is similar that of the nation's other closely-watched hurricane forecasting center at Colorado State University.

In mid-April, the Colorado forecasters said the season would have 10 named storms, four of which would be hurricanes and two of which would be major hurricanes.

Tropical Storm Irene crashed through Connecticut in August 2011, which caused flooding, toppled trees and power lines and resulted in electricity outages that lasted longer than a week for some residents. Before Irene, the last tropical storm to make landfall in the state was Floyd in 1999. The last hurricane to hit Connecticut was Bob in 1991.

In May 2011, the National Hurricane Center forecast last year's season to have 12 to 18 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes.

In April 2011, the Colorado State forecasters forecast the season would bring 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes and five major hurricanes in the Atlantic.

The 2011 season delivered 19 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

There is safety from externalities and safety from internal bickering - just a thought.

Weston Police Commission questions chain of command, hiring plan
Weston FORUM
Written by Patricia Gay
Thursday, 16 February 2012 00:00

Who does the Chief of Police in Weston take direction from?

That was the topic of discussion at a recent meeting of the Weston Police Commission.

Commissioner Jess DiPasquale questioned the chain of command in light of criticism directed at Police Chief John Troxell over his acquisition of two military surplus Humvees.

Chief Troxell traveled to Fort Drum in upstate New York in early January with three Weston Police Officers and acquired the Humvees with approval from some members of the Weston Police Commission, but without first notifying First Selectman Gayle Weinstein.

After returning to Weston with the Humvees, Commission Chairman Rick Phillips and Ms. Weinstein criticized the chief in a series of emails, with Mr. Phillips claiming the chief had violated the "chain of command" for not notifying Ms. Weinstein first.

In response, Chief Troxell sent an email to Mr. Phillips saying he "took offense" to the accusation that he had violated the chain of command and requested a meeting with the commission to review his contract with legal counsel.

However, before that meeting could take place, the chief announced his retirement on Jan. 24.

At the commission meeting on Feb. 7, Chief Troxell stated, as he has since his retirement announcement, that there was "no one single issue" leading to his decision to leave, rather his enthusiasm for the job had been "chipped away... A chief needs to know when to go. I feel it's time to retire," he said.

"For you to say you lost your enthusiasm is unfortunate," Mr. DiPasquale responded.

Mr. DiPasquale noted that Chief Troxell had approval from the commission to acquire the Humvees. He said Connecticut General Statute 7-276 gives the Police Commission control over the general management and supervision of the police department and its equipment, therefore Chief Troxell behaved responsibly in the manner in which he acquired the vehicles.

He also said it would have been nice if Ms. Weinstein had been informed about the acquisition, but it wasn't a necessary requirement because Ms. Weinstein, as first selectman, is an ex-officio member of the commission and does not have a vote.

The commissioners discussed how the chain of command is expressed in the chief's contract. It says the chief shall serve under the direct supervision of the commission.

However, it also states that the chief will "inform the first selectman of significant matters concerning the department and town."

"It's not clear from the contract what a significant matter is," Mr. DiPasquale said.

Chief Troxell said the language in the contract was ambiguous and was something that should be reviewed with the next chief.

"My attorney said once you hire a chief, you delegate authority to the chief and it's your duty to oversee the chief," Chief Troxell said to the commission.

The commissioners agreed the contract language should be reviewed.
Next chief

The commission then discussed how it will go about hiring a new chief. Although they previously handled the entire process themselves — writing the job description, advertising the job, reviewing resumés, and conducting interviews, this time they agreed to use a consultant.

They formed a subcommittee of Rick Phillips, Beth Gralnick and Jeff Eglash, to vet consulting firms to help with the new hire. The subcommittee will report back at the March meeting with potential firms.

Because Chief Troxell's last day of work is currently scheduled for July 24, he offered to train an officer in the department to act as interim chief, in case the commission had not hired a new chief by that date.

Mr. Eglash said appointing an interim from the department would not be a good idea because if the interim was also applying for the chief's job it would look like favoritism. Others agreed, and a decision was made not to appoint an interim chief.

The commissioners said they hoped officers within the department would apply for the chief's job...

CL&P vows to share more data with towns
Ken Dixon, Staff Writer
Updated 11:31 p.m., Wednesday, November 30, 2011

HARTFORD -- Connecticut Light & Power will share some of its sensitive infrastructure data with towns and cities in an attempt to develop regional preparation for natural disasters.

And a co-chairman of the governor's Two Storm Panel put the onus on following up on the effort with the chairman of the Connecticut Geospatial Information Systems Council, including the possibility of requesting permission from state regulators.

"I'm happy to fulfill any level of cooperation," said Tyler Kleykamp, an employee of the state Office of Policy and Management who leads the information council.

"Do we hold you accountable?" asked Joseph McGee, the storm panel's co-chairman, suggesting a 60-day window to develop a cooperative arrangement on items including the logging of utility poles and distribution landmarks.

"If that's your choice," Kleykamp replied. "Whatever the actual data is you're bouncing this against, the better. That may require some disclosure of certain information from utilities. We don't know exactly what that may be or how much detail you might need, but it would likely, in order to be most effective, require some degree of disclosure."

He said obstacles to sharing information such as distribution networks include security threats and sensitive business data. "You can still share information about that data," he said. "So in an emergency or in an event that you need to get access to that data, you know what's there."

Kenneth Bowes, vice president for energy delivery at CL&P, announced intentions to cooperate with towns and cities in developing geospatial systems that can be shared when large-scale power outages occur.

Joseph McGee said that he wants CL&P and United Illuminating to become members of the Geospatial Information Systems Council, even if the issue has to first be referred to state utility regulators. The group shares demographic and infrastructure data throughout the state.

"At the end of the day there's a lot of work that's going to have to be achieved here," McGee said to Bowes. "The opportunity here for collaboration, I think, has real benefits to the state of Connecticut in a storm. My assumption is that if we share data, so that the data you're requesting comes from the town is put on your system, it will speed up damage assessment significantly."

"That is accurate, yes," Bowes replied.

"We're trying to find who's accountable," McGee said. "The utility is taking a major step here, they're moving away from a previous more-difficult position to a more-collaborative position in the sharing of data."

McGee said the opportunity for sharing information among state agencies, towns and cities that have already invested in local geospatial mapping and utilities is very timely and important.

"Just sitting here, does that make any sense that we're spending this kind of money for a system that doesn't talk to one another?" McGee said. "I mean, it's kind of embarrassing, to be candid. This is a big deal and would make a big change in how we do damage assessment in this state."

Meghan McGaffin, who heads geospatial information for the city of Milford, said that while Tropical Storm Irene at the end of August was downgraded from hurricane status, its flooding and power outages in the city of 50,000 were the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane.

"Either Irene faked us out or this model was incorrect for our circumstances," said McGaffin, noting that the city extensively maps a variety of information to share with emergency responders and law enforcement. "It was better than knowing nothing."

State report recommends tree assessment for future storms
By Judy Benson Day Staff Writer
Article published Dec 1, 2011

Of the estimated 1.1 million trees that line Connecticut's streets and highways, as many as 620,000 are large enough to pose potential hazards to utility lines and roadways during future storms.

Of those 620,000, more than half are maple trees that, because of their growing habits, tend to have structural defects such as hollow cavities and split trunks with weak forks that are most vulnerable in high winds and heavy snows.

Pre-emptively removing all the large maples growing along state and municipal roadways would cost $185 million or more. Given the expense, state and municipal tree caretakers should instead consider evaluating the condition of all maples and other trees near power lines that have trunks one foot or wider in diameter - the size determined to be most susceptible to storm damage.

Those are some of the findings of a preliminary analysis of the state's urban forests done by Jeffrey Ward, chief scientist in the forestry and horticulture department at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

It is the first report to quantify the risk posed statewide from large street trees as the state seeks ways to prevent the kind of prolonged power outages and extensive damage that resulted from trees felled during Tropical Storm Irene in August and the Oct. 29 nor'easter.

Completed this week, Ward's report was done at the request of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection as part of the post-storm analysis and response. The report has been sent to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's Two Storm Panel, which met Wednesday.

"Maples are fabulous shade trees because they're very fast growing," Ward said, explaining why maples became the dominant Connecticut street tree. "But because they grow so fast, they don't have the defenses. What grows fast dies fast."

For his analysis, Ward extrapolated tree data from 11 cities and towns that had conducted recent tree inventories to estimate the potential risk statewide of tree damage during extreme weather events. Among the towns were two in southeastern Connecticut: Colchester and Essex. In Colchester, there are 218 large-diameter trees of the 232 along town roadways, the report said. Essex has 1,371 large-diameter trees of the 1,415 along its roads.

To minimize future outages, Ward recommended that the state Department of Transportation and municipalities plant only varieties of trees with mature heights not exceeding 30 feet and keep trees no closer than eight feet from power lines.

He recommended against removing all street trees, calling this a "drastic solution" that would "inexorably alter the sense of place characteristic of Connecticut's towns and cities. The resulting cityscapes would be devoid of nature except for patches of grass and scattered flower beds."

Instead, planting smaller trees "would preserve the benefits of ... an urban tree canopy including reducing personal stress, cleaning air, reducing heating costs, reducing storm water runoff and sequestering carbon dioxide," he wrote.

Chris Donnelly, urban forestry coordinator for DEEP, said Ward's report will help guide the Two Storm Panel as it develops recommendations about how the state can minimize its risk of future storm damage and outages.

Ward's findings will also be shared with state and municipal officials who make decisions about which trees to plant along roadways, Donnelly said.   

  Which tree to plant?  Some small trees recommended for planting near or under utility lines:
• American arborvitae
• Autumn higan cherry
• Upright Japanese flowering cherry
• Weeping higan cherry
• Donald Wyman crabapple
• Indian magic crabapple
• Japanese crabapple
• Flowering dogwood
• Kousa dogwood
• Fringe tree
• Golden-rain tree
• Crimson cloud hawthorn
• Lavalle hawthorn
• Winterking hawthorn
• American hornbeam
• Japanese tree lilac
• Japanese maple
• Paperbark maple
• Chanticleer flowering pear
• Purple-leaved cherry plum
• Eastern redbud
• Eastern redcedar
• Sourwood
• Japanese stewartia

Source: "Trees and Shrubs for Your Community," 1999, Western Massachusetts Electric, The Northeast Utilities System

Hearing a High Wire Act for CL&P
By James Lomuscio
Thursday, October 13, 2011

A small but vocal group of Westport and Weston residents took Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) officials to task at a review session in the Town Hall auditorium tonight over what they said was a poor response to power outages in the wake of Hurricane Irene.  Complaints from the seven residents who spoke ranged from CL&P’s inadequate communication with residents to idle repair trucks waiting for orders to some residents being without power for eight days.

“I am shocked and incensed at the lack of people who are not here,” said Sue Harris of Weston. “And I am furious at CL&P.

“We never saw a CL&P truck for days and days and days,” she added. “Nothing was happening.”

Harris said she had to shower at the Westport Weston Family Y since she had no water at home because all Weston residents are on wells. She was concerned that had heard from neighbors that CL&P’s response time was slow because the utility was worried about paying overtime.  Listening was a panel comprised of First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, state Sen. Toni Boucher, Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury, Police Chief Dale Call and Deputy Chief Foti Koskinas.

Nearby and taking it all in were Todd M. Blosser, director of CL&P’s southern division, and Chris Swan, CL&P division manager for the Stamford-Norwalk area. Blosser waited for all of the public to finish talking before he responded.

“Can we do a better job next time?” he asked. “Apparently we have to.”

Jason Kannon, another Weston resident, noted that he was without power for eight days.

“That was really, really pathetic,” said Kannon. “Ninety-nine percent of the town was out and you sent two trucks.

“I have an estimate for a generator that’s $10,000, and I’m going to give it to you and I hope you pay it,” he added.

Westporter Rozanne Gates, who lives on North Avenue and who had asked Joseloff for the hearing, expressed similar outrage, calling the amount of time Cannon waited “unconscionable.”

“What responsibility does CL&P have to its customers to reimburse them for the loss of food in their refrigerators?” Gates asked.

She also called power outages “a national security problem,” and stressed that CL&P should begin burying power lines to avoid outages caused by falling trees and branches..

“Your lack of willingness to address this problem is a threat to every one of us,” she said.

Westporter Allen Bomes, who serves on the Representative Town Meeting, agreed that it is time for the utility to put wires underground.

“I know it’s expensive,” he said, adding that the cost would probably balance out with the costs incurred by repairs, tree trimming, overtime and people being without power.

Westporter Leo Cirino was the only member of the public who spoke in CL&P’s defense, saying, “I love the grid, and I love what CL&P is doing for us.”

“CL&P didn’t make those trees grow,” he said. “We let them grow. Their (CL&P’s) responsibility only comes in when the limb touches a wire. These lines were put in 75 years ago when it was all clear cut.

“We’ve gone overboard,” he added about people not wanting to have their trees trimmed by the utility company.

Westporter Jim Graves agreed that “tree maintenance” should be a priority for homeowners. He also pointed out what he called a flaw in state regulations that the utility company has to get permission from a homeowners to cut their trees.  Boucher and Steinberg both agreed that prohibition should be revisited on the state level.

Local officials also came to CL&P’s defense, saying that the response to Hurricane Irene’s aftermath was a marked improvement over the company’s slow response time to the March 2010 storm

“From my perspective, CL&P did a tremendous job compared to the March 2010 storm,” said Public Works Director Stephen Edwards. “We had to wait 36 hours for one crew to arrive with the March storm, and this time we had two crews arrive immediately.”

“Compared to March 2010, we learned a lot of lessons,” said Call. “This storm was better for us to deal with because we had a lot of preparation.”

Blosser admitted it was “not easy to sit here and learn all the issues you have.” Regarding insufficient communication with municipalities and residents, he pointed out, “the problem is that so many communication avenues are dependent on electricity.”

As far as burying power lines, Blosser said it would be cost prohibitive, “four times as much as going overhead, $3.6 million per mile.”

“And just because you go underground does not mean you will not have power outages,” he added, noting that power restoration could take longer.

Blosser also stressed that in other parts of the country where trees are cleared away from power lines, there are no eight-day outages.

“In many cases the root cause for our power outages are trees,” he said. “The other ideas won’t be as important if we manage our trees better.”

At the meeting close, Joseloff stressed that residents should always be prepared for long periods without electricity, from stocking up on three weeks worth of nonperishable food and dry milk, to installing a generator.  Regarding how the utility and local officials respond to such emergencies, Steinberg said, “We can always to better.”

“Everybody here is dedicated to that proposition,” he said, noting that no one knows what the next storm will bring.

Posted 10/13 at 10:17 PM

Photo taken by new, in 2013, Al-Jazera reporter.
And on the 6th Day...and the seventh, etc. CL&P still couldn't rest.

Fired State Employees To Get Their Jobs Back In Food Stamp Probe
The Hartford Courant
By CHRISTOPHER KEATING, ckeating@courant.com
8:36 PM EDT, June 13, 2012


— In a major victory for union members, many state employees who were fired in a high-profile food stamp fraud case will get their jobs back, officials said Wednesday.

So far, 40 workers have been reinstated, and more are expected in the coming weeks, officials said. The workers will receive unpaid suspensions ranging from 15 to 60 working days, but they will not lose their benefits or seniority.

The workers were fired soon after Gov.Dannel P. Malloyannounced on a Sunday afternoon in December that state employees had falsified their income and improperly received emergency benefits. Those benefits were sought in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, which caused power outages across the state late last summer.

A written decision given to one state employee this week showed that the independent arbitrator, Susan R. Meredith, ruled the employee "made a mistake and did not commit fraud.''

Meredith wrote: "The discipline imposed was too severe. The dismissal is hereby reduced to a thirty (30) working day suspension without back pay.''

Most of the workers will return to their jobs on June 29 — but they will not receive back pay for their suspensions.

A top union official, AFSCME Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano, announced the settlements Wednesday afternoon.

Rich Rochlin, an attorney for some of the fired workers, said that at least 56 of his 60 clients "will get their jobs back or are in the process of getting their jobs back.''

"I've been saying since December that there were flaws in the system and these workers were being railroaded,'' Rochlin said. "The arbitrator's decision is a complete vindication of everything I've been saying and contradicts everything Malloy and his staff have been saying since December.''

For the past three months, the Malloy administration had not released updated figures on the number of fired workers. But after the statements by Luciano and Rochlin on Wednesday, a Malloy spokesman said that 103 state employees had been fired, resigned or retired as a result of the food stamp case. Of those, 40 have been reinstated, and 63 cases are pending, according to the administration.

Luciano said the arbitrator made the findings on Tuesday and Wednesday under an agreement of expedited arbitration.

"Most of the cases resulted in a finding by the arbitrator that the individual made mistakes in the application and did not commit intentional fraud,'' Luciano said in a written statement. "Those individuals have made, or have committed to make, full restitution to the state for the amount they received from the program. The arbitrator imposed disciplinary suspensions ranging from 15 to 60 working days.

"While some state employees may have engaged in fraud regarding the D-SNAP program and have been dismissed or resigned from state service, these employees were found to have made errors that the arbitrator found warranted discipline, but not dismissal. They exercised their due process rights, paid back the money received, were adequately disciplined and will be reinstated to their state positions,'' Luciano said.

Luciano continued: "We made it clear from the time the allegations broke that any individuals who knowingly deceived taxpayers to receive a D-SNAP benefit must be held accountable. We also made it clear that people are innocent until proven guilty and that everyone is entitled to due process and union representation. The arbitrator's awards in these cases are an appropriate solution for the individual Council 4 union members and the state."

After the employees were fired, the union filed grievances. After the grievances were denied, the cases eventually went to an independent arbitrator. The arbitrator then heard numerous cases on Tuesday and Wednesday at the state Office of Labor Relations in Hartford.

The question was whether the state had just cause to fire the workers. In a copy of one of the rulings, the arbitrator wrote that the state "did not discipline the grievant for just cause.''

Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba said: "The governor made it clear from the beginning that anyone involved in the D-SNAP investigation would be entitled to due process. Today's announcement is proof of that.

"We continue to believe that there is no room in state government for anyone who would look to defraud taxpayers. As a result of the D-SNAP investigation, those that committed some of the most egregious violations have not had their cases heard yet, and are still not employed by the state. The Governor's message was clear – public service is a privilege and any abuse of the privilege will not be tolerated.

"The governor has instructed the Office of Labor Relations to review each of the arbitration decisions recently issued, and to explore with the Office of the Attorney General whether there are sufficient legal grounds on which to appeal these decisions to the Superior Court. That process will be undertaken in the coming weeks.''

The employees were fired because, the Malloy administration says, they falsified their financial information when applying for emergency benefits under the federal Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as D-SNAP. The program began following Tropical Storm Irene, which ravaged the state and knocked out electrical power to hundreds of thousands in late August. The emergency money was designed not only to replace lost food, but could also to cover storm-related expenses such as property repairs and temporary housing costs. Actual food stamps are no longer issued, and recipients instead received debit cards.

After saying for months that about 800 state employees had applied for benefits, Malloy announced in early April that an additional 250 state employees had filled out applications. In all, 1,053 state employees y sought to receive emergency benefits.

Overall, 128 state employees had been referred to their supervisors as of two months ago for potential disciplinary hearings. Of the more than 1,000 state employees, 685 had been cleared of any wrongdoing, according to a previous count by the Malloy administration.

The vast majority of state employees who applied "were honest" about their incomes and liquid assets in bank accounts, Malloy said previously.

The Malloy administration has repeatedly declined to release the names of any state employees who have been fired, citing a three-page memorandum by the attorney general's office regarding confidentiality of food-stamp recipients.

Arbitrator reinstates 40 state employees in Irene fraud
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
June 13, 2012

A state arbitrator has reinstated 40 of the 103 state employees who resigned, retired or were fired after being implicated in the improper receipt of disaster relief after Tropical Storm Irene.

The reinstated employees must make restitution and serve suspensions ranging from 15 to 60 days, according to an announcement Wednesday by AFSCME Council 4. The employees obtained aid under the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or D-SNAP.

"While some state employees may have engaged in fraud regarding the D-SNAP program and have been dismissed or resigned from state service, these employees were found to have made errors that the arbitrator found warranted discipline, but not dismissal," said Sal Luciano, executive director of Council 4.

"They exercised their due process rights, paid back the money received, were adequately disciplined and will be reinstated to their state positions," he said.

Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, said the governor always has said that employees accused of improperly obtaining aid would be entitled to due process.

"Today's announcement is proof of that," Doba said. "We continue to believe that there is no room in state government for anyone who would look to defraud taxpayers. As a result of the D-SNAP investigation, those that committed some of the most egregious violations have not had their cases heard yet, and are still not employed by the state. The governor's message was clear -- public service is a privilege and any abuse of the privilege will not be tolerated."

The administration will review each arbitration decision and determine with the attorney general's office if there are legal grounds to appeal.

Calling a press conference on a Sunday in early December, Malloy personally announced details of what has been the administration's only case of significant agency fraud. His initial disclosure was that 800 state employees had obtained disaster aid, with an unspecified number suspected of fraud.

Eligible households were to receive food aid ranging from $200 for a single adult to $1,202 for a family of eight.

By March, the scope of the inquiry expanded with another 240 recipients of disaster aid having been identified as state employees, bringing to 1,053 the number of state employees to benefit from the emergency aid program. There were 23,000 total applicants.

The administration determined that month that the majority of employees were entitled to the aid, with 685 cleared of wrongdoing and 128 referred for administrative review. Eventually, 103 left state service, with 78 dismissals and 25 resignations or retirements.

Doba was uncertain Wednesday evening if all 40 reinstated employees had been fired, or if some were workers who resigned or retired and then sought a return to their jobs.


Weston officials ponder cost of Tropical Storm Irene clean-up
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 11:53

A police car drives under a fallen tree leaning on power lines on Old Easton Turnpike. —Alison Wachstein photo
Cleaning up the mess Tropical Storm Irene left behind in Weston has not been easy — nor is it going to be cheap, town officials say.

“Sometimes money can’t be the priority,” said Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein last Thursday, when the majority of town residents were on Day 5 with no electric power. “Right now the health and safety of our residents is my number one priority.”

Tropical Storm Irene hit Connecticut on Sunday, Aug. 28, and 99% of the Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) customers in town were left in the dark. Because nearly every Weston house uses a private well with an electric pump, most were left without water, too.

The storm produced what was likely a microburst or tornado, which caused hundreds of branches and trees to fall on property, utility lines, and into roads. Ms. Weinstein said of Weston’s 287 roads, nearly 70 presented a hazard.

The town spent nearly a week cleaning up and providing residents with food, water, bathing facilities, and a place to recharge cell phones and laptops. Police and social services went door to door and made phone calls to make sure seniors and those with special needs were attended to.

While, necessary, all of that costs money.

Federal aid

The good news for Weston is it will not have to bear the burden of the costs on its own. President Barack Obama issued a disaster declaration for the Connecticut, enabling the state, municipalities, businesses, and individuals to apply for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“As a federal disaster area, Connecticut will get substantial reimbursement for these additional storm response expenses,” said Tom Landry, Weston town administrator.

While no solid cost figures were yet available earlier this week, Mr. Landry estimated the reimbursement would run about 70%. “So I think the final net number to Weston will be manageable,” he said.

Some things the town was able to offer Weston residents during the storm did not cost anything up front, Mr. Landry said. Bottled water and self-heating ready-made meals (Meals Ready to Eat or MREs) were provided to the town for no charge by FEMA.

Other items, though, have come out of the town coffers.

Aside from the MREs, there were food expenses for employees, volunteers, and residents who visited the comfort station set up at Weston Middle School Monday through Sunday.

Mr. Landry said water was trucked in for the Ravenwood water system, the only area in town that does not have individual wells. “The wells do not have generator backup, but the distribution and treatment system does. Even without power, they ... continued to have water,” he said.

The town also incurred the expense of running generators elsewhere. While the schools and the town hall complex (which includes the library) all had power restored after just one day, the Department of Public Works and the transfer station cell tower were using gas-powered generators for five or six days.

“Like anything we do, the biggest expense is manpower,” Mr. Landry said. “Police have been working double and triple shifts. DPW has worked many extra hours and some of them were here Saturday night before the storm hit so they would be in town and ready to go right afterwards. Friday was a holiday for them but we called them in. Dispatchers doubled up because of the call volume, and John Ojarovsky [Communications Center manager] practically lived here for three days.”

School personnel also put in a huge amount of time and effort, Mr. Landry said. “Dan Clarke [school facilities manager] slept at the school for, I think, two nights. His guys were out Sunday afternoon starting the cleanup,” he said. And the custodial staff at the middle school kept the building up and running in order to provide the town a comfort station.

In addition, some town hall employees cut vacations short to be in town when the storm hit. In the days that followed, they worked extra hours to cover phones and keep the building open late and on weekends for those who needed a place to “power up” or connect to the Internet.

“So I am sure there are many overtime hours to account for,” Mr. Landry said.

There were countless others who spent their days and nights helping the town get back on its feet, Mr. Landry said.

“I slept in town Saturday night” before the storm, Mr. Landry said. “We convened the emergency center at the [Norfield] fire station both Saturday and Sunday at 4. Gayle was there, the superintendent was there, the chairman of the school board was there, and many, many others, too,” including firefighters, ambulance crews, and police officers, many of whom spent nights manning the fire stations.

“A lot of those folks are not paid, but the dedication by them and all of our responding employees has been very impressive,” Mr. Landry said.

“I have heard from many residents who are incredibly frustrated, frazzled and angry. I know why they feel that way, but honestly, their beef is with CL&P not with us. Our folks did a great job, and I am proud of their efforts,” he said.

First Selectman Weinstein said while the storm will definitely put the town over budget, “we did what we had to do to keep the town safe.”

And it could have been much worse, Ms. Weinstein said. FEMA reimbursement will be key, she said, plus the number of volunteers that stepped up significantly mitigated costs — and, she said, it brought the town together.

There were reports of people throwing neighborhood barbecues, having pool parties, and organizing games for kids. Scores of people e-mailed the first selectman as soon as their power was restored to offer water, showers, refrigeration, etc., she said. Many said they wanted to give back because they were grateful for the assistance the town offered.

“The number of volunteers I’ve been able to meet is just incredible,” Ms. Weinstein said. “For every cranky person, there were at least two that would come forward and say what can I do to help.”

Westonites seeking federal assistance must register with FEMA
Weston FORUM
Monday, 05 September 2011 13:26

After receiving notification of the federal assistance available to cities and towns, businesses, individuals, and non-profits, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that residents who suffered damage as a result of Tropical Storm Irene must register with FEMA — by phone or online — to access that aid.

"This declaration will bring much-needed financial assistance to residents that were impacted by Hurricane Irene," said Mr. Malloy. "But it is critical to note that you must register with FEMA to begin the process of accessing possible federal assistance."

It is important to note that residents who have already provided damage information to their towns, FEMA, state officials or 2-1-1 must still register with FEMA at this juncture.

To register by phone, call: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The TTY line for people with speech or hearing disabilities is 1-800-462-7585. The line is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week.

To register online, applications may be completed at www.disasterassistance.gov.

If residents have disaster assistance questions, they may call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362.

Wifi available in Town Hall (Commission Room above) and Library.
FORUM News Alerts Labor Day weekend, for Sept. 3 & 4 & 5, 2011

MONDAY, 1:45pm - 24% outage in Weston - 9 homes.

MONDAY, 12 noon - 0.26% out in Weston (10 homes)

MONDAY, 8:45am - 0.29% out in Weston (11 homes)

SUNDAY, 9pm - 2% out in Weston and Wilton, 3% in New Canaan.

SUNDAY, 5:30PM - 5% out in Weston, Wilton and New Canaan.

SUNDAY, 3:30PM - 7% out in Weston, Wilton and New Canaan 6% - all other towns in SWR under 1%.

SUNDAY, 8 AM — CL&P reports that 91% of Weston has power this morning, leaving 378 customers still in the dark.
The Connecticut Emergency Operations Center is keeping an eye on yet another storm developing in the Atlantic that has the potential to impact the U.S. East Coast in about six days: Hurricane Katia. Tropical Storm Lee has touched down in Louisiana.

SATURDAY, 10:45AM — A total of 35 line crews are scheduled to be working to restore power in Weston today...how are the Region's towns doing at 2:30am, Sunday?  OUTAGES:  Weston at 10%, Westport 1%, Wilton 7%, Stamford 0.37%, Norwalk 0.91%, New Canaan 6%, Greenwich 1%, Darien 0.52%.  Overall, at 2:30am Sunday, CL&P customers outage:  2%.   Read the press release of CL&P here.

How many businesses are there in Weston?  CT declared a disaster area by Feds.

Nice calls from CODE RED and First Selectperson Thursday and Friday  evenings;  10% without power in town Sunday at 2:30am.  Click here to see the map of Connecticut by how CL&P is organizing things...the best way or maybe not? (As reported from the Valley on CT NEWSJUNKIE - Sen. Blumenthal's visit.)


No school until next Tuesday, September 6 - Latest school info HERE
CL&P for outages in "plain text" -  at the moment (Sunday @9pm Weston is not number one in the Region!  Only 2% outage!  Oh!  We said that already!
CONNECTICUT reports no longer particularly helpful to Weston, but that's OK, since the way to best communicate with Hartford seems to be to follow directions from Town of Weston!

Irene aftermath: CL&P says Weston outages are not transformer related
Weston FORUM
Written by Patricia Gay
Saturday, 03 September 2011 09:32

Saturday 8:45 AM — As 40% of Weston homes still languish this morning without power, a spokesperson from Connecticut Light & Power Company cleared up a rumor that one of the major problems was related to a transformer malfunction.

“I looked into that issue, and that’s not the case,” said Debbie Beauchamp, who is a Weston resident as well as a spokesperson for CL&P.

She said there are problems in Weston with downed power and high voltage lines. “The damage is so bad in some areas that everything has to be re-built and that takes time,” she said.

Although there are still 1,532 homes in Weston without power this morning, that number is much lower than yesterday when more than 70% of the town was dark. CL&P is now reporting less than 100,000 outages statewide.

“The goal every day is to make steady progress in restoring power. Over 800,000 customers were restored by yesterday — 88% had their power back. The goal is to have 92% of our customers back by Saturday night with full complete restoration by Wednesday midnight,” Ms. Beauchamp said.

Tropical Storm Irene, which arrived in Connecticut as a downgraded hurricane, struck Connecticut very hard. Ms. Beauchamp called the storm damage from CL&P’s perspective as “unprecedented.”

“Normally, there are 194 line crews and 121 tree crews working in the state. Due to the severity of this storm, we have 1,045 line crews and 539 tree crews on the job, a total of 1,584 crews. Doing the math, that’s the equivalent of five CL&Ps,” she said.

She said additional crews came from across North America, and 60 new crews arrived on the scene yesterday.  “It’s historic, the number of crews that are here,” Ms. Beauchamp said.

Residents, town and state officials have expressed frustration with CL&P for what they perceive to be too slow a restoration process.  Ms. Beauchamp said the company listens to all the complaints it receives, and understands their frustration.  She also said public input has helped CL&P prioritize the areas in most need of help.

“It helped us know where critical places were. Hospitals, nursing homes and local community centers were prioritized because they affected the most residents in the community. The most important thing to us is that the work is done as quickly as possible to help the most people in need,” she said.

Some residents without power have complained that they have gotten conflicting information about power restoration. People have been able to check on their power outage status and expected date and time of restoration through CL&P’s Web site and by phone. But some say the information they were given was inaccurate or conflicted with what CL&P was reporting in the media.

Ms. Beauchamp said in many cases power was restored ahead of CL&P’s original estimate because as issues were resolved in one area, crews could work on other areas sooner than originally planned. “Power restoration estimates were made by field crews after they personally inspected the damage. They developed repair estimates based on a location inspection. If they can beat the estimate, they will,” she said.

Throughout this ordeal, Ms. Beauchamp said she would like people to keep one thing in mind.  “Many of those CL&P crews are your neighbors. They are working as safely and quickly as possible to restore your power. This is a time of neighbors working for neighbors,” she said.


Updated Storm Information - What is Open and Where to go for Services
Date Posted: 8-31-11 (changes to policies in bold italic)

Check the town website:
www.westonct.gov for updates.

Comfort Station – Middle School Pool Entrance:  Hours : Monday – 8 am – 8 pm;  Tuesday – Friday – 6:30 am – 7 pm
Showers and Bathroom facilities – please bring your own towel and toiletries.  NOTE: The showers are not private. You can bring a bathing suit
if that is more comfortable for you.

Charging Station for cell phones

Spigot for potable water – bring your own containers to fill.  Bottled water and self-heating meals are available at the comfort station.
You are entitled to take 3 bottles of water per family member per day.


Internet – The Library has power for computers and wifi now on Tuesday.  We have already had such service (computers and wifi available) in the Commission Room at Town Hall;

Library-will remain open until 9 pm this evening. Internet and outlet
access to charge cell phones are available

Transfer Station – open during regular business hours

Senior Center- open Monday- Thursday 10-2. Internet and outlet access to charge cell phones are available

Food and Supplies - Weston Center has power and all stores are open.

Refrigerated Medicines - Lang’s Pharmacy has agreed to store medicine in their refrigerator. Plan on keeping a daily supply at home in a cooler with ice packs.

School openings- Please check the school website after 4pm to see if school will be open the following day. www.westonk12-ct.org

Residential Power- CL&P is reporting 41% restoration of power. We believe this to be somewhat accurate. CL & P has told us that they will try to give us restoration estimates for the rest of the Town by the end of the day.  CL&P Info line is 1-800-286-2000

LATEST NEWSAS OF YESTERDAY FROM TOWN HALL - "70 roads" having trees down is a HUGE number and "50 of them have wires exposed."  It must be really hard to figure out how to get from the proverbial here to there...see Emergency Management update below.

Do you know how many town roads (not including lots and lots of private ones) there are all together?  Well, there were 85 miles of roads in town then.  The State controlled 13, the Town @68 miles and 18 miles were private roads.


Power Outage Map Legend (immediately below) - play by play



  1. Sunday August 28:  95% out 10:30 a m., 2:30pm, 3:30pm, 10pm (we'll call this DAY ONE);  after First Selectwoman declares state of emergency in order to get additional resources.  See emergency update above
  2. "Comfort Station" up Monday the 29th, DAY TWO;
  3. Tuesday, August 30, DAY THREE:  back down to 82%.(nothing much had happened on Monday, DAY TWO...by CL&P, who was now in charge of restoring power)
  4. Friday, Sept. 2:  showing Weston improving to only 43% w/o power. (DAYS FOUR THRU SIX);
  5. Saturday, Sept. 3 DAY SEVEN:  when we went from red into pink...to 10% ochre!  Then 7%...
  6. Sunday, Sept. 4:  2%.  DAY EIGHT...but wait!  Just checked at 10:15pm and it was 0.47% - lower than Wilton and New Canaan! 
  7. Labor Day (DAY NINE) dawns with 11 homes still w/o power (0.27%).  NOTE:  New Canaan the worst off now (see graphic above, bottom, second from right).
  8. First day of school in Weston, Sept. 6 and only one house w/o power at 3pm - but briefly early this morning...it was ZERO!!!  Wilton has worst outages here at the end of the ordeal.

Upstate Farmers Find That a Fertile Flood Plain Is a Two-Edged Sword

August 30, 2011

Like many other growers in the Hudson Valley, John Gill’s grandfather established his farm along the banks of a creek — in his case, the lower Esopus in Hurley, N.Y. — because the land was so fertile, with topsoil penetrating 10 to 30 feet into the earth.

The fertility is due to a flood plain. But the geological blessing of such a plain can change, in a matter of hours, into calamity, as Mr. Gill saw this week on the family farm, established in 1937, which sits at the base of the Catskill Mountains. More than a third of his 1,500 acres of sweet corn and other vegetables, which usually end up in the produce aisle of the ShopRite chain and on the menu at Blue Hill, among other places, was destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene.

“I had some fields under 10 feet of water,” he said. “You couldn’t see a stalk.”

From the Hudson Valley to areas farther north, along the Mohawk River and Schoharie Creek, New York growers, many of whose farms have been in the family for generations, were dealt a devastating blow by the storm, which dumped heavy rain on the region. Some farmers, who were without power and hobbled by disabled equipment, were not even able to assess the full extent of the damage.

State and local officials said the storm destroyed dozens of farms and crippled many others by killing livestock, submerging crops, washing away barns and buckling nearby roads. The onslaught came at the worst possible time, with farmers in the midst of harvesting a year’s worth of labor. In some spots, orange orbs were eerily visible underwater during flyovers by state officials — a vestige of the season’s pumpkin crop.

“Clearly, it’s not good,” said Darrel J. Aubertine, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Markets. “I’ve been involved in agriculture my entire life, and there have been times when the weather has wreaked havoc on livestock and farms, but I don’t think I have ever seen anything on this scale here in New York.”

Representatives of farmers’ markets in New York City said that shoppers would feel the effects throughout the fall. “There will be farmers they’ve known for years who might not be bringing product,” said Michael Hurwitz, director of the greenmarket program at GrowNYC, a nonprofit group.

On Mr. Gill’s farm, in Ulster County, workers began picking corn in late July, so about two-thirds of his crop had already been harvested when the storm hit. Still, he estimated his crop losses at more than $1 million, adding that he does not have sufficient crop insurance because it is too expensive. “I’m going to be very intimate with my banker this winter,” he said.

At Davenport Farms, in nearby Stone Ridge, the cantaloupes were submerged, while the corn crop had been blown down by strong winds. Even though the owner, Bruce Davenport, may be able to salvage some of his corn, he now worries about plant disease.

“It moves around in the water and can infect a huge area,” said Mr. Davenport, whose ancestor Isaiah Davenport founded the farm in 1840.

In the Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys, where dairy farms dot the landscape, there were reports of cows being swept downstream in some places. State officials said there were clearly livestock losses, but were reluctant to provide an estimate. “We’re still in the first stage of the assessment,” Mr. Aubertine said.

Other farmers whose cows survived were unable to get feed or milk truck pickups, because of washed-out roads. Cows must be milked at least twice a day, and most farms have limited storage capacity, so access to milk trucks is critical.

“There were some farmers yesterday who ended up having to dump the milk, which represents a loss of income at a time when they are facing catastrophe, ” said Dean E. Norton, president of the New York Farm Bureau, which represents 30,000 farm families in the state.

In Greene County, farther north, the Lawrence family surveyed ruined fields of corn and alfalfa in Ashland that they lease to a nearby dairy farmer. During the storm, the Schoharie Creek, which runs through the farm, overflowed its banks, turning the land into a “raging lake” some 300 yards across, Nancy Lawrence said.

“I’ve seen everything go by: cars, people’s decks, coolers, people’s belongings,” said her son, Doug Lawrence, 45, who had removed five wagonloads of garbage from the fields. “In all my life, I’ve never seen it so high.”

Not far away, Don Tompkins counted himself lucky. In 1970, a barn fire on the family farm killed all 80 of his family’s cows. No longer in the dairy business, he came across as a bit nonchalant Tuesday while staring out at his 445-acre hay field, strewn with storm debris.

Still, he marveled at the power of the normally slow-moving Schoharie Creek, which had transplanted items from the next town. “I am finding debris that I can identify as having come from Windham,” he said, noting an Adirondack chair from Chicken Run, a restaurant, and two-by-fours from a lumber yard there in his field. “The good news is we’ve got enough lumber to build an outhouse.”

In Hurley, Mr. Gill was both philosophical and practical in assessing the aftermath of the storm. “It’s one of those things,” he said. “You put your boots back on and deal with it.”

Noah Rosenberg contributed reporting from Ashland, N.Y.

Utility executives: Another week before all power is restored
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
August 30, 2011

Leaders of the state's two major electric utilities say they have more than quadrupled their work forces to confront Connecticut's worst power outage, flying in crews from the west coast Tuesday on chartered flights. But full restoration of power is still a week away.  At the insistence of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the top executives of Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating joined him at a late afternoon briefing at the State Armory, delivering on the governor's promise to improve communication about their power restoration efforts.

"I'm not sure we've had the chief executive officers of the two largest utilities at this kind of press conference before, but we did it today, and they all understand that communication is paramount," Malloy said.

From the Carolinas to Quebec, governors and others are demanding that their utilities compete harder for emergency crews to cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, which arrived in the state Sunday as a strong tropical storm, leaving more than half the state without electricity.  Richard Serino, the second-in-command of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, also joined Malloy, part of an effort by the Obama Administration to raise the visibility of its response to the disaster.

Call it the Katrina effect: a reaction to the widespread perception that local, state and federal officials were slow to respond to the hurricane that devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast.

Officials are intent on letting the public know what they are doing. In Connecticut on Tuesday, that meant a detailed update on power restoration and details about emergency deliveries of food and water to three dozen towns.  Serino told reporters that supplies pre-positioned at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Mass., were delivered here three hours after the storm ended. He will tell a similar story in New Jersey on Wednesday.

Other top officials of the Obama Administration, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, are making visits to disaster areas up and down the eastern seaboard.  Malloy said 92,160 liter bottles of water and 21,300 meals were delivered to a staging area at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, and the supplies were then transferred to 37 towns. On Wednesday, 12 tractor trailers carrying water and 15 with food will arrive at Rentschler.

The UConn football game Thursday night at Rentschler is expected to be postponed until Saturday.  But the main topic was electricity, and the featured guests at the governor's briefing were Jeffrey D. Butler, the president and chief operating officer of CL&P, and James P. Torgenson, the president and chief executive officer of United Illuminating.

"Our No. 1 concern and the No. 1 concern of our citizens is electric power," Malloy said.

In addition to the emergency crews rounded up by the utilities, FEMA is sending 500 tree and line crews to New England.

"We are working to get every asset possible to the state to address the power situation," Malloy said. "I want you to know that we take this very seriously."

Butler and Torgenson each spoke carefully, insisting they were making progress, yet conceding that repairs will test the public's patience.

"I am very happy to talk today about the good progress we are making in terms of restoration, but at the same time, I recognize we have a lot of work yet to be done," Butler said.

"We all understand how difficult this has been for our customers," Torgenson said.

As of 4 p.m., service had been restored to 461,000 customers of CL&P. At the peak of the storm, outages affected nearly 700,000 customers. By Wednesday morning, Butler promised, fewer than 300,000 will be without power.  But full restoration along the battered coastline will take until a week from Wednesday.

United Illuminating, whose service area stretches from Greater New Haven to Greater Bridgeport, had 158,000 outages at the peak. Torgensen said by midnight Tuesday 65,000 would still be out.  The executives said their efforts were prioritized, focusing first on hospitals, public-safety and communication facilities, then town centers, so residents in blacked out areas at least could have access to grocery stores, gasoline stations, pharmacies and restaurants.

"Our goal is over the next 48 hours is to get those town centers all reopened," Butler said.

Dan Esty, the commissioner of energy and environmental protection, said the utilities' storm plans were thrown into disarray by the scope of the storm.  Fifty crews on their way from Quebec returned home when the storm caused outages in Canada.

"They were literally on the road," he said.

Others from New Hampshire had to delay their expected arrival until later this week.  UI had to recruit crews from Wisconsin and Indiana. CL&P arranged to have workers from Seattle and Vancouver fly in Tuesday aboard charted jets.  CL&P, which normally has 200 two-person line crews available, had about 900 line and tree crews in the field Tuesday, with their ranks to reach 1,200 by the weekend. UI normally has 60 crews, including 45 line crews. On Tuesday, it had 240 in the field.

"It would be fair to say that there has never been this many people working on a power issue in the state of Connecticut's history," Malloy said. "We're working with these folks, as well as federal authorities, to make sure they understand the problems we're having. And I think we're having a response."

Both utilities are promising to try to provide better and more current information about the projected timetables for restoration of services.  In an age of instant information, Butler acknowledged, that customers expect to be able to go online and find information about outages in their neighborhoods. More of that information was to be posted online Tuesday night.  Torgenson said UI is now in a position to keep local officials better apprised of its crews whereabouts.

Malloy, utilities say more out-of-state help needed to restore power
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
August 29, 2011

As municipal leaders across Connecticut complained Monday afternoon that utility restoration work from Tropical Storm Irene is proceeding  too slowly, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy pressed federal authorities to help direct more out-of-state repair crews here.  Representatives of both major utility companies insisted they have mobilized as much out-of-state assistance as possible to date, though more is expected later this week.

"I certainly understand their frustrations," Malloy--who spent 90 minutes on a conference call with more than 200 city and town officials--said while recounting that conversation during an early evening briefing with Capitol reporters at the state armory.

Though municipal leaders also asked for assistance distributing emergency water and food supplies, the overwhelmingly concern was their inability to clear roads quickly when downed power lines are involved, Malloy said. That's because municipal crews cannot work on those obstructions without a complementary utility team to safely shut off the electricity.  Meanwhile, both Connecticut Light & Power Co. President Jeff Butler and United Illuminating's vice president of transmission business, John Prete, both said they have begun to use out-of-state crews to complement their own teams--and would hire more if they are made available.

"We're still looking across the nation to bring other crews in," Butler said. As of the 5 p.m. briefing, CL&P, which serves most of Connecticut, had about 800 crews in the field working 16-hour shifts, and hoped to have another 100 from out-of-state on the job within the next 24 hours, he said, adding that about 575,000 of the utility's 672,000 customers remained without power.

UI, which serves the state's southwestern corner, still had 105,000 of its 155,000 customers without power as of 5 p.m., but had about 200 crews -- including local teams and others from Kansas and Indiana -- in the field, Prete said.  Both companies' websites were overwhelmed with traffic and inaccessible at times.  Malloy did not rule out the possibility that the utilities' repair response time was being hampered from crew reductions driven over the years by profit margins. "I suspect that is the case," the governor said.

Butler, when pressed, did concede that CL&P has less maintenance staff than it did when it responded to Hurricane Gloria in 1985. And though he didn't have specific numbers, Butler also said he believes that is true of most companies in the industry across the country.

Both the Connecticut utility leaders and the governor also said they believe more out-of-state assistance could be available here if the federal government were to relax rules regarding the maintenance crews utility companies must keep on hand to response to local emergencies.  Malloy, who already has appealed to U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napalitano, said he has requested conversations with -- and hopes to press his case before -- both Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Dept. of Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

"I want to have a discussion with them about finding ways to send more manpower our way," the governor said, adding that in the meantime he would guarantee that utility officials would remain periodically accessible to the media throughout the clean-up. "That's my personal assurance," he said. "They'll answer appropriate questions."

Also Monday, Malloy announced that the state Department of Economic and Community Development would offer loans and loan guarantees of up to $200,000 to assist businesses harmed by Tropical Storm Irene.

Emergency funding would be made available to cover storm-related damage to business machine, equipment and other property.  The department also will be providing grants to help businesses obtain temporary assistance.  Further information can be obtained through the department's website at www.DECD.org, or by calling 860-270-8215.

CL&P liaison plan found wanting in the aftermath of Irene
By Patricia Daddona Day Staff Writer
Article published Sep 9, 2011

After Tropical Storm Irene blew through the region Aug. 28, it took Connecticut Light & Power three days to get its community liaison to Ledyard.

Helpful and a hard worker, that CL&P employee nonetheless was unfamiliar with the rural town of 16,000 and couldn't get timely and accurate information from company management any more readily than town officials could, said Ledyard Mayor Frederic B. Allyn Jr.

Ledyard was one of numerous eastern Connecticut towns that completely lost power for many days after the storm.

"We had some wonderful crews here," Allyn said. "If we could have had early on a knowledgeable CL&P person with authority who could drive around with our public works crews telling us which trees we could cut and which we couldn't (because of live wires) … we could have started on restoration. We lost valuable time."

Local officials from North Stonington to East Lyme criticized the company's emergency response plan. In advance of the storm, tree-trimming should have been more aggressive, and mutual-aid provisions for out-of-state utility crews should have been better managed, they said.

And throughout, the officials noted, communications between CL&P management and their own community liaisons was not as effective as it needed to be to expedite the restoration of power to electric customers.

"Having a liaison is a good idea," said Robert Congdon, Preston first selectman and chairman of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments. "I don't think many of them knew how to access meaningful information. They brought lawyers ... out to basically baby-sit the first selectmen and mayors."

These points likely will be raised during hearings planned by the General Assembly on the storm responses by CL&P and United Illuminating.

After 78,000 statewide outages in the March 13-14 rainstorms of 2010, a state investigation commissioned by then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell found the CL&P and UI responses "adequate" but detailed many areas of improvement similar to those that town officials are now citing.  Among the problems cited then: slow response time, weaknesses in communication, failure to follow company emergency plans, overly optimistic predictions of how soon power would be restored and insufficient training for some staff in the field responding to calls.

Better partnerships

In East Lyme, the CL&P community liaison lived in town and was extremely knowledgeable, but that familiarity wasn't enough, First Selectman Paul Formica said.

"He was phenomenal," Formica said. "But he was just sending information up into what amounted to cyberspace and nothing came back down. In my view, (CL&P) did not make towns' emergency management teams partners in this event to the extent they could have — to the extent they should have."

CL&P, with headquarters in Berlin, is Connecticut's largest utility, serving 1.2 million customers across the state. It acknowledged the weakness in communication, though it refused to respond to specific questions about its staffing, service to towns and customers during the storm.

Spokesman Mitch Gross said the company's internal review has begun, and the utility will participate fully in upcoming legislative hearings.

"Communication with the town officials and customers must be better," Gross said. "It will be better. We are certainly willing to listen, exchange ideas. We are flexible."

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, who held one of two conference calls with CL&P and town chief executives on the Wednesday after the storm, said that call helped CL&P officials realize they needed to split the eastern region into two areas to make restoration more manageable.

Eastern Connecticut, the hardest hit region in the state, took so long to have power restored precisely because it was the hardest hit by downed power lines and trees, while service in Hartford and Litchfield counties was easier to restore, Gross said.

"We're in the process of putting together the facts," Gross said. "We anticipate having numerous conversations with state and municipal officials. Yes, there is room for improvement. That's why these reviews afterwards were so important.

"We have to look at what worked, what did not work. We're committed to doing better."

Staffing issues

Courtney said CL&P should have anticipated the more extensive damage in the sprawling 2nd District. "Clearly the regional structure was just too unwieldy at the outset," he said. "You hate to sound like a Monday-morning quarterback, but the fact is the weather reports said the high winds were going to be in the east. So high winds mean trees down and power out. Why would you keep that region staffed at the same level as other regions?"

Gross declined to comment on Courtney's observation.

CL&P President and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Butler was not available to comment but will be appearing in public advertisements to impress on the public the company's commitment to improve, Gross said.
Courtney also said it should have been "automatic" for CL&P to turn to municipal utilities like Groton Utilities for help locally after Groton Utilities had finished restoring power in its own territory, a suggestion made in the conference call that CL&P eventually embraced.

Town officials noted that municipal utilities were quicker in getting power restored than CL&P.

"I've listened to CL&P say what a great job they've done, and I don't disagree that their crews worked hard," added Congdon, "but it's not like we don't have something to compare CL&P's performance to. Just here in southeastern Connecticut, we have Jewett City Light & Power, Bozrah, Norwich and Groton Utilities — all of which had 100 percent restoration by Tuesday night."

Different experiences

Stonington, which has about 18,000 residents, had success with its community liaison from CL&P, First Selectman Ed Haberek said. He credited town emergency response and public works crews with working closely with that worker to prioritize cleanup and power restoration. As calls came in, they mapped out 82 incidents in order to address every downed power line and damaged transformer, he said.

Neighboring North Stonington did not have a similar experience. First Selectman Nick Mullane said mutual-aid utility crews, such as those from Florida or Colorado, should have been called in much earlier to accelerate cleanup since they had to travel in their trucks to get here.

CL&P has said the storm's wide swath across the entire Northeast prevented Canadian and other crews from helping Connecticut earlier as planned.

Cops: Conn. man threatens utility crew with gun
Associated Press
Published 08:55 a.m., Tuesday, September 6, 2011

BROOKLYN -- A Connecticut man is accused of pointing a gun at a utility crew who had come to his home to check for power outages in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

State police say 30-year-old Kyle Wojcik grabbed his gun Monday and ordered the two men off his property. The crew is employed by Camp Bell Utility Co. of Michigan.

They were in Connecticut working with Connecticut Light & Power as part of the effort to restore electricity to 830,000 utility customers who lost power in the tropical storm.

Wojcik is charged with reckless endangerment, threatening and disorderly conduct. He was scheduled to be arraigned in Danielson Superior Court on Tuesday.

A phone call to Wojcik's home Tuesday morning went unanswered.

Sterling Residents Tell Malloy They Feel ‘Forgotten’
by Christine Stuart | Sep 4, 2011 3:48pm (Updated 9:28 p.m.)

Many have been without power now for seven days and while they’re doing their best to cope with the situation many feel forgotten by Connecticut Light & Power.  Dozens of residents came to Sterling’s Town Hall Sunday to tell Gov. Dannel P. Malloy about what they’ve experienced since Tropical Storm Irene hit the state a week ago.  Malloy, the first governor to visit the town since Ella Grasso in 1978, said he’s unhappy with the utility company’s response too.

“Listen, I’m unhappy as you should be unhappy with the response of the utility companies,” Malloy told the crowd. “It’s been slow and hard. I certainly understand that. What I‘m committed to is making sure that we learn from this experience.”

The town of Sterling with a little more than 3,000 people had been completely without power until Friday.

“Friday was the first time we saw a utility truck come to town,” Lee Shippee said. “We had no 911 service for at least 36 hours after the storm.”

Shippee still has no power, but her friend June Bonner got hers back yesterday. The two have been making due by showering at Plainfield High School and using pond and pool water to flush the toilets.  First Selectman Russell Gray said he wasn’t making excuses for Connecticut Light & Power, but Sterling just happens to be at the end of the electrical grid and it took a little longer than it should have to get here.

About 26 trucks rolled into town on Friday, almost five days after the storm hit.  One man said he was trapped until Wednesday because of downed wires at the end of his street.

Sterling Emergency Management Director Carl Kvist said they let Connecticut Light & Power know about that problem on Sunday, but the road wasn’t cleared until Wednesday. He said the town cleared up all the debris and tree branches it could and had most of the streets cleared by Monday, but was not allowed to clear certain areas where wires were down.  Malloy said he asked the state to give him an assessment of how wooded the state was back in 1938, 1955, and 1985, the last time hurricane’s hit the state.

He said the state is twice as wooded as it was in 1955 and three times as wooded as it was in 1938. He said the state is going to have to decide how many trees it actually wants next to roadways and how many trees it actually wants next to power lines.  Kvist also said they had trouble getting the meals and water provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and distributed by the National Guard into town. They finally were able to get a shipment of food, water, and ice which will be distributed until 4 p.m. at the fire house on Main Street.

But even when the food did arrive, Christine Orsini, who lives in a very rural area of town said she didn’t know about it because the transistor radio doesn’t pick up the local AM stations. She said the town should have been able to communicate better with residents to let them know when supplies arrived.

“We had no power, no water. Thank God we have great neighbors and a lot of alcohol,” Orsini joked.

Many residents said they had to travel to Johnston, Rhode Island to find ice and many have tried to be as optimistic as they can about the situation, but after seven days without power even that is getting difficult.  As for rumors Connecticut Light & Power will be passing on the estimated cost of damage unto customers, Malloy said that’s just a rumor and state officials will be monitoring that situation very closely.  On Saturday Connecticut Light & Power announced Northeast Utilities Foundation will be making a $1 million donation to the Red Cross to help with the clean up and will be waiving late fees on electric bills.

But for residents like Darlene Gannon that’s not good enough.

“I think we’re looking for an apology from CL&P,” Gannon said. “And not in the form of where they’re going to donate $1 million to the Red Cross and we don’t have to pay a late fee. I think they need to acknowledge that they missed us.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, who was in Sterling with Malloy, said after some conference calls with local officials from eastern Connecticut, CL&P realized it had to split the eastern district into two pieces because of its large geographic area and the number of lines that were down.  Courtney said on Wednesday they realized just having one person in charge of the entire area was impossible.

“We’re the ‘Quiet Corner’, but sometimes it feels like we’re the forgotten corner,” one woman told Malloy.

Sunday was Malloy’s second visit to eastern Connecticut. He reminded residents that the entire state was impacted by the storm.  Rep. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, said it means a lot to the residents to see a governor here in this part of the state. She said he spoke honestly with folks and they really appreciate it.  She said as of Friday morning Sterling was the only town in Connecticut with absolutely no power, so it goes without saying they felt neglected.

On Saturday President Barack Obama issued an emergency declaration for five of the state’s eight counties, which will allow homeowners impacted by the storm to recover uninsured losses. The declaration for the remaining three counties of Hartford, Tolland, and Windham was issued on Sunday. The declaration covers all eight counties including Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven and New London Counties.

Malloy said people may qualify for reimbursements for the amount of money they paid to run generators to the amount of food that was spoiled after the power went out.  The declaration will allow individuals, as well as local governments, to tap into federal funds for storm remediation.

“By the end of the day today, FEMA teams will have been to all 169 cities and towns in the state, and we will continue to press for public assistance in the remaining three counties in the state,“ Malloy said. “This storm was unprecedented in terms of the amount and scope of damage, and I’m pleased the President has agreed and made available these federal funds and services.”

“I am gratified that President Obama and our federal partners recognize just how damaging this storm was to Connecticut residents, our infrastructure, and our economy,”  Malloy said Sunday following the declaration for the remaining three counties.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will tour parts of East Haven Monday with Malloy.

NOTE:  Outages in Griswold at 8% at this time - Weston outages now 10% or 381 homes. Total out in CL&P service area around the state at this time - 24,947 (2%).
Progress, but some towns back in dark

By Sasha Goldstein and Chuck Potter Day Staff Writers
Article published Sep 4, 2011

After a day of progress in restoring power across the region, many residents in Griswold, Lisbon and Voluntown saw their lights go out again Saturday night.  Griswold First Selectman Philip Anthony Jr. said Saturday night that Connecticut Light & Power was unable to provide an estimate of when power would be restored.

"CL&P called me because they know I would be calling them," Anthony said at about 8:30 p.m. "They said they don't know what the problem is, but they called crews back in to work on it."

A CL&P spokesman acknowledged the outage but couldn't provide further details.  Anthony said he was told by a CL&P lineman that the problem could be with a grid that begins in Danielson and flows south to Sprague. Anthony said even Jewett City, which is served by a municipal power company, was without power.  Anthony had been handing out food and water at the firehouse much of the day. He was heading home for a shower when he learned of the setback.

"I pulled in, my garage door opener didn't work," he said.

"I speak on behalf of residents of Griswold and Jewett City and I'm confident that I speak for all residents and businesses of all of the towns affected by this latest problem: The system has to be revised. We pay enough to have upgraded systems.

"I know it was a big storm, but their reaction and performance leaves much to be desired. To have recovered so much only to lose it, to have it shut it down again, ... This is Connecticut, not Appalachia. This is totally unacceptable."

Earlier in the day, Anthony had said that CL&P "has made good progress" with seven crews working in town. He said he had maintained hourly contact with an CL&P liaison, who was stationed at the Griswold Fire Department on Saturday.  Officials in many local towns, including North Stonington and Montville, had heard from their CL&P liaisons on Saturday that power should be restored to 99 percent of homes by late tonight, a week after Irene hit the region.

Montville Mayor Joseph Jaskiewicz said there were spots "here and there" that needed power but that a large majority had been restored.  In Ledyard, outages went from 54 percent of customers Saturday morning to 24 percent by afternoon. Ten power crews and four tree crews are working in town, according to Mayor Fred Allyn.

"We're getting there," he said.

Katie Blint, a CL&P spokeswoman, said Saturday that the company is aiming to have 99 percent of its statewide customers with power restored by midnight on Monday.  Blint said 1,730 crews, six times more than usual, are working throughout the state, and in a 24-hour span from Friday to Saturday afternoon they had restored power to 30,000 customers. She estimated 60,000 homes statewide remained in the dark at 4 p.m. Saturday.

"We hope to be 100 percent restored by Wednesday at midnight, which is playing out pretty much how we planned for it," Blint said. "We knew it would be a week-long restoration effort and we had secured 800 crews before the storm hit."

Late Friday night, the White House announced that President Obama will make federal aid available to the state and local governments for recovery efforts.  Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will visit Montville, Griswold and Sterling today, where he will meet with town officials and residents to discuss power outage and other issues the towns have experienced resulting from Irene.  In North Stonington, which was 100 percent in the dark midweek, 15 crews were making progress Saturday, according to emergency management coordinator Marc Tate. At 5 p.m. Saturday, 80 percent of CL&P customers had power.

"These guys are getting along at a good clip, but there are still lots of frustrated people," Tate said.

Katie Skaar, of Mystic, is among the frustrated. She said the power at her home on Crest Drive in the Faircrest neighborhood came on for "half a second" Thursday night before she heard a loud explosion and again lost power. She said she hasn't seen another truck since the "huge letdown," even though she has called the CL&P customer service line twice. She said she's been told power will be restored by 11 tonight, a week after the lights first went out.

"I felt like they flipped the switch and said, 'it's on' and then didn't realize a transformer blew," Skaar said. "The whole street is out and the entire rest of the neighborhood has power. It's so aggravating."

Groton's director of emergency communication, Joe Sastre, said that about 10 percent of Groton's CL&P customers were still in the dark at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday He said six line crews and three tree crews were continuing to reduce that number.

"We're doing pretty good. They returned about 1,400 people to service today," he said on a cell phone call as restoration teams were working in the Judson Avenue neighborhood.

"They're going down the sides streets. That's a really good thing. So I think we're getting close," he said.

Sastre said if people start seeing their neighbors on the same street getting power and they don't, they should call CL&P to make sure their house is on the outage list. He said the company is starting to use some service crews to connect individual homes or groups of two or three houses.  Also, he cautioned residents to check the brackets that secure the wires to the house. If the bracket is torn from the house CL&P cannot reconnect the service.

Sastre said the town has stopped providing showers at the senior center as only two or three people per day were using them.

Weston was reported as having 100% outage at one point, and it took until Thursday until we got below the 81% outage level...
Irene's Aftermath: Town by Town

Anne M. Amato, Staff Writer
Published 06:35 p.m., Saturday, September 3, 2011

Every local community felt the brunt of Tropical Storm Irene, some more than others. In some towns, large percentages of residents were left without power, cable and phone service. Flooding damaged homes along the shore and forced residents to evacuate. There were no injuries reported in our area. All that's left now is the cleanup.

How did your community fare during and after the storm? Here is a town-by-town wrap up.


The city fared well with no flooding and no major damage to homes or businesses. There was a relatively small number of residents who lost power -- just about 20 percent -- due to the high winds and branches hitting power lines. There was no mandatory evacuation, but three people did spend the night at the city's emergency shelter during the height of the storm. The city closed the flood control gate at West Main Street after the water rose on the Naugatuck River. The Ansonia Flood Control system was put in place following the devastating floods of 1955. City officials are still compiling the dollar amount of damage caused by the storm and is urging residents to report any damage to their property. The cleanup is ongoing and residents who want to get rid of storm-related debris should put the materials at curbside starting Sept. 6. Public Works crews will pick up the debris regularly through Sept. 20.


Power outages were a major issue following the storm with 35,289 of the city's 56,500 households serviced by UI in the dark. Getting people back on line was the main goal. There was also extensive damage to the eastern side of Seaside Park, which will be closed off indefinitely. The western beach at Seaside, which is accessible through South Avenue, and Beardsley Park are open to the public. By week's end, the city had cleared all downed trees from roadways. The city was also informed by FEMA officials that the county had reached its threshold for federal aid and that FEMA officers would not be coming to the city for preliminary damage assessment.


Power outages and flooding were the two main issues residents grappled as a result of the storm. About 785 of the 6,238 households serviced by UI were initially without power. Flooding was the worst at McConney Grove, a low-lying area on the banks of the Housatonic River. There were no injuries reported and damage to homes was minimal. City departments are in the process of compiling damage and cost estimates resulting from the storm. Residents can put debris, including branches and shrubs, in front of their homes for pick up by public works. The city has a grinder that will turn the debris into mulch.


There were a number of trees and wires down that created extensive power outages throughout the town. Residents here are among the last in the area to get power restored; initially, 2,203 of the 2,913 homes were in the dark. A number of roads were also blocked by downed trees, but most have been reopened. A total estimate of damage is still being tallied. FEMA representatives toured a number of homes last week as part of its damage assessment. The town will continue to offer showers at Helen Keller Middle School from 3 to 7 p.m. and that offer could possibly continue into next week. That decision will be made later Sunday. Water and ready-to-eat meals are still being offered at the police department, where there is also city water available. Residents should bring their own buckets to fill.


Officials said the storm was the worst the town has experienced with 75 percent -- or 16,000 households -- initially without power. Numerous trees were downed and a number of utility poles damaged which slowed power restoration efforts. Five homes on Fairfield Beach Road suffered structural damage and two collapsed into Long Island Sound. Cleanup efforts are ongoing.


There are several thousand structures in the city with some damage, several hundred with major damage and several dozen that sustained catastrophic damage and might have to be demolished.

The hardest hit areas were Bayview and Point beaches, Broadway and East Broadway. At the peak, 13,306 homes were without power. Five Public Damage Assessment Teams began evaluating structural damage to homes Wednesday. The teams will be documenting the damage and recording information that will be used to assist FEMA in determining whether the city qualifies for disaster assistance. Cleanup of debris is ongoing.


The town had one of the highest rates of outages in Fairfield County, at 93 percent, after the storm hit. Route 25 also had been blocked off in several places for hours. With many residents dependent on electricity to operate their wells and septic systems, power outages also left them without water. The town offered showers at Masuk High School and Wolfe Park. As of Saturday, 26 percent of the 7,905 Connecticut Power & Light customers in town still were without power.


The biggest problem was the lack of power to nearly all of the households -- 97 percent were initially without power -- following the storm. The storm knocked out power to wells, leaving many residents without water. By week's end, only about 100 single family dwellings were still in the dark and the goal was to have everyone back on line no later than Sunday. There was damage reported to two homes when trees fell on them.

The Housatonic River overflowed its banks, flooding some areas. At the height of the storm, high tension wires fell onto Jacks Hill Road and burned through several feet of pavement, rupturing an underground, 8-inch gas main, and igniting a fire. Two homes nearby were evacuated. The town is still tallying damage estimates. Recovery includes clearing away any debris still left behind. Public works and CL&P crews have already removed the bulk of downed trees on roadways.


Following the storm, 87 percent of the town was without power. That created a hardship for the many since about a third of the homeowners have wells and need power to operate them. Another problem was flooding, especially on a section along the Naugatuck River on Derby Avenue where residents were evacuated. The river rose to a level that was only surpassed by the 1955 flood. There is no dollar estimate of damage yet.

However, homes fared well with no reports of any significant damage. One house did have a tree fall onto it. A tree also fell onto a 1955 Cadillac, most likely totaling it. The town is now dealing with cleanup efforts and the town's transfer station will be open longer hours next week for residents bringing tree limbs and branches there. Public works crews will put them through the town's tub grinder, which was stolen last year, but later returned.


The biggest problem was getting through city streets following the storm, due to the number of trees that were down.

On Thursday city officials made the decision to request help from the Connecticut National Guard and 15 troops were deployed to the city. Using chain saws and heavy equipment, they were able to open up about 13 blocked roads by 6:30 p.m. That allowed utility crews to begin the task of getting power restored. About 51 percent of homes were in the dark following the storm. UI has estimated about 98 percent of homes would be on line by Sunday night.

The area hardest hit by flooding were homes in the Maples, a low-lying area on the Housatonic River.

The city is still offering food, water and ready-to-eat meals at Echo Hose Ambulance. The city's Emergency Operations Center will also remain open for residents needing assistance.


The storm completely washed out Beach Drive in the town's Lordship section. Two cottages there were lost. There were 9,000 homes initially without power. There was a voluntary evacuation on the shore line and south end of town and about 300 people left their homes, with 52 staying at the town's emergency shelter. There are no initial damage estimates. Cleanup of debris in the town is nearly complete.

The town's transfer station will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday for residents who want to dispose of excess brush, etc. from the storm. For residents still without power, bottled water, ice, potable water and a charging station are available at the Oronoque Fire Station, 200 Oronoque Lane, Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Residents should bring their own containers for the potable water and a proper ID.

Stratford parks and beaches are open. The parking lot at Long Beach remains closed due to storm damage.


About 58 percent of the town was initially without power with most residents and buildings back on line by Friday.

Five homes sustained structural damage -- three had roofs torn off them and one home was deemed inhabitable after a tree fell into the dining room and onto the garage.

There was basement flooding reported in about a dozen homes which were pumped out by the fire department. No injuries were reported and the town is still compiling a dollar amount of damage. Most debris has already been cleared away.

It is Sunday before Labor Day and 10% of Weston still out
About a week without power, Greenwich residents irate over being left in the dark

Greenwich TIME
Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Updated 10:25 p.m., Saturday, September 3, 2011

After nearly a week with no power in some pockets of Greenwich, from Greenbriar Lane in the Round Hill section to Lake Drive in Riverside, residents lit into the restoration efforts of Connecticut Light & Power Co. on Saturday.

"It's like living in a Third World country," said Laura Cunningham, a resident of Greenbriar Lane, a small dead-end street in the midcountry.

Greenberg was one of just under 1,000 CL&P customers, about 3 percent of the total served by the utility in town, still waiting as of late Saturday afternoon for power to be restored in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene.  When she called customer service on Saturday morning, she said she got an automated message that CL&P hoped to restore power to the 11 homes on her street by nightfall, "hoped" being the operative word.

"In a worst-case scenario, they're saying it should be by Wednesday," Cunningham said.

The goal of CL&P was to have power restored to 99 percent of its 27,900 customers in Greenwich by 11 p.m. Saturday, said Martin Murray, a spokesman for the utility.

"We're trying to pass along only honest information, not promising any more than we can deliver," Murray said. "We edge toward being conservative. We're obviously shooting to beat any target or time estimate."

CL&P stopped short of setting a goal for 100 percent restoration by Saturday night, explaining that some customers in unique circumstances could require additional utility work on their individual properties.

"There may be some challenges with those last few remaining customers," Murray said. "We want to make sure that no one slips through any cracks."

On Lake Drive, where a sagging power line nearly touched the pavement on the horseshoe-shaped street near the Riverside train station, Allyson Kates questioned the progress of those restoration efforts.

"Nobody cares. This is a wire laying down," said Kates, who took a photo of a child on a scooter near the wire. "This is just beyond idiotic."

While he could not confirm whether it was a live wire, Daniel Warzoha, the town's emergency management director, urged residents to exercise the utmost caution around downed or drooping lines.

"Wires that are down, you should treat them, whether it's power or cable or phone, as potentially being energized," Warzoha said. "There's nothing to say that two blocks down someone might have a generator that's hooked up illegally and is backfeeding out onto the wires in the street. That exact situation has caused fatalities to linemen and emergency services workers, so we're very cognizant of that stuff."

A sawhorse and yellow caution tape could be seen next to the sagging wire.  Public safety officials characterized the remaining outages as scattered throughout town and said that there were 36 line crews and 15 tree crews working for CL&P in Greenwich to get 100 percent restoration by Monday night.

"They know what they got to do," Warzoha said. "They know what equipment they need to bring to the site. It's just getting the work accomplished. They've sent surveyors and bird dogs out to every one of those locations."

Kates, who recently moved to Lake Drive and is still unpacking, complained that most of the surrounding streets in her neighborhood have power.

"I had to borrow (a generator) from my handyman," Kates said.

Some of those still without power were unforgiving of CL&P.

"They clearly were not close to ready to deal with it," said Jim Johnston, who also lives on Greenbriar Lane. "This is from a tropical storm. What if we got a Category 4 hurricane? We just have to assume that the state would just stop functioning completely."

Johnston called on the state to foster competition in the utility sector, one that he termed as a monopoly.

"From a consumer's standpoint, we are absolutely at the mercy of this company," Johnston said.

Fellow homeowners on Greenbiar Lane wondered if their street, where a pair of branches rested on sagging power line, had been forgotten.

"I have been up and down Round Hill Road for the last six days and I have never seen a CL&P truck on Round Hill Road," Cunningham said. "I think cul-de-sacs or dead-end streets really get the short end of the stick."

CL&P confirmed that it was aware of the outage on Greenbriar Lane.  Cunningham also took issue with the level of communication by CL&P, saying she received the same "canned" message every time she called customer service until receiving more specific information on Saturday.

"To me, that's just unacceptable," Cunningham said.

CL&P processed 945,000 calls since last Saturday -- the equivalent of two months, according to its tallies.

"If they want to talk to a real person, the average wait time is 27 seconds," Murray said.

In her 45 years of living on Greenbriar Lane, Gale Hartch couldn't recall an outage this long.

"We are kind of surprised that it's taken so long, but we understand that the hurricane was so wide," Hartch said. "I'm disappointed."

Hartch had 3½ feet of water in her basement that she said had to be pumped out midweek by a plumber because her sump pump wasn't working.  The fire department sent a pumper truck from Cos Cob to Hartch's home Saturday after the water level rose again.

"They came today and pumped us out," Hartch said. "So it's become a really serious problem."

Hartch thanked the firefighters and the town highway worker who called the pumper truck for their assistance.

"They were so helpful and cheerful," Hartch said.

Remember the underground power line issue?

What was that fairy tale?
Irene: Long Wait, Then Lights Out, A Narrative;  State Remains Windblown, Wet And A Mess

Hartford Courant
By Jim Shea With A Video Recap
September 4, 2011

Saturday dawns gray but not foreboding. An early mist turns to showers and then a steadier rain. The morning is crowded as people scurry from store to store searching for increasingly elusive essentials. By mid-morning it is apparent that D-size batteries could be a new gold standard.

Four days earlier, Irene hadn't even been front-page news. People were still talking about the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that had rattled the region. Although it was the most powerful quake to hit the state in more than 100 years, it caused little damage. An earthquake and a hurricane in the same week? Never happen, right?


On Thursday, residents are being warned to prepare for heavy rains and power outages. Meteorologists are still not sure of Irene's direct path, but Fox CT's Joe Furey relays one piece of alarming information. A high pressure system will prevent the storm from being blown away from shore. Whatever else it turns out to be, this will not be a tail-end-of-the-hurricane experience.

No one is talking about anything but the hurricane Friday morning. The earthquake is history. The time to take Irene seriously has arrived.

Along with his counterparts in New Jersey and New York, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signs a declaration of emergency and orders state parks and campgrounds closed. The citizenry is advised to prepare for what is coming.

CL&P cancels vacations and makes arrangements with subsidiaries in nearby states for line crews.

Local authorities order evacuations in low-lying areas. Move-in plans at colleges are delayed. Public school starting dates are pushed back. Farmers pick crops early. Shore vacations are cut short. Boats are taken out of the water. Cancellations pile up. Supermarkets struggle to keep shelves stocked. Lines form in stores where people await the arrival of generators.

Power outages caused by falling trees are going to be the big story, predicts the Northeast National Hurricane Center. They will be right on, and then some.

Computer models are also getting specific. At this point, it looks as if the storm will pass directly over New York and into western Connecticut. It will coincide with a new moon, meaning the higher-than-normal tides combined with the storm surge will cause coastal flooding.

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg orders the subway system shut down.

Along the shore, people take in lawn furniture, check sump pumps, fuel generators, eye tall trees, stare at hand-delivered evacuation notices and try to decide.

The safety conscious board up their waterfront homes; the sorry will wish they had.

Inland, the preparation drill is the same as at the shore, with rain being more worrisome that wind. As anyone who lives near flowing water can attest, torrential rain can quickly turn the gentlest of trickles into the deadliest of torrents.

Irene calls ahead. She will be late.

When people go to bed Saturday night, there is rain, but still no wind. Is this thing coming or not?

By dawn on Sunday, that question has been answered. Shoreline counties are under a hurricane warning, the first since Gloria in 1985. A four- to eight-foot surge is forecast. Flooding is imminent. Inland, a tropical storm warning has been issued. Heavy rain is coming.

When Irene greets the Connecticut coast, she no longer has the sustained winds to qualify as a Category 1 hurricane. The new tropical storm designation is a distinction lost on those who are face to face with its fury.

The rain is hard and horizontal and stings like BBs. Wind and surge whip the normally placid Long Island Sound into a frenetic sea of white caps. Gusts blow the foamy tops off of waves immersing the air in a salty brine. Air is breathed as well as tasted.

In places where resistance to the advancing water is met, huge plumes of spray fly into the air. Sea walls become back splashes.

Up and down the Connecticut coastline communities are pounded by the relentless wind, waves and surge. No shoreline community escapes unscathed.

But nowhere is the destruction on a par with that sustained on Cosey Beach in East Haven, where 25 houses are destroyed, including four swept out to sea, and dozens more are damaged.

Among them is the home of WTNH meteorologist Dr. Mel Goldstein, who had announced his retirement only five days earlier. Goldstein had been evacuated Saturday night and was unharmed. His famed "weather deck," however, is a casualty.

Longtime Cosey Beach residents sing the same refrain: In all their years, in more than a half century in some cases, they have never seen anything like this.

On the bright side, no lives are lost here or anywhere else along the shoreline. Inland is another story.

Rainfall totals across the state range from 3 inches, to 8.5 inches in Winsted, to 10 inches in Washington and other places in Litchfield County.

Streams, brooks and rivers including the Connecticut, Farmington, Housatonic and Pomperaug — which was approaching an all time high when the gauge stopped recording — exceed flood stage.

In Bristol, the Pequabuck River, legendary for its penchant to suddenly rage, takes a life.

Shane Seaver and Ray Clyma set out in a canoe to survey the flood damage when their craft is suddenly sucked into the river's swift flow and capsizes. Clyma is rescued; Seaver's body is recovered later that night in Plainville.

Seaver's death brings the storm-related toll to two. Early Sunday morning, an elderly Prospect woman died when a downed wire set fire to her home. In its march up the seaboard from Florida to Maine, 46 deaths are attributed to Irene.

The reason Irene causes so much havoc inland is attributed to the sheer size of the storm, more than 500 miles wide, and its track, which had turned inland as it passed New York City. Usually when a hurricane moves over land it loses power, but Irene is so huge that it continues gathering moisture off the ocean.

When the storm passes over the mountains of upstate New York and Vermont, the geography serves to wring even more moisture from the clouds. In these areas, the rain is not only torrential but it lasts up to eight hours.

The flooding is so severe in Vermont, and so many roads are washed out, that the state is reduced to a series of geographically isolated islands. In many places there is no way in or out, and supplies have to be delivered by helicopter.

Record flooding also takes place in Northern New Jersey. In New York City, flooding is minor.

Late Sunday, the winds shift from southeast to northwest, and in final gust, Irene exits.

In her Connecticut wake, two are dead, 132 homes have been totally destroyed, 35 communities have declared emergencies, 2,000 people are in shelters, scores of homes and roads are flooded, and 830,130 are without power.

And so Irene takes its place in local weather lore: not the biggest, not the smallest, not one to forget.

Fairfield County snubbed by feds for homeland security funding
Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Updated 09:54 p.m., Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Despite being home to the Times Square car bomber and scores of Sept. 11 victims, Fairfield County emerged as a loser in the latest round of homeland security funding, a snub that is being blasted by regional leaders.

The region recently learned it will no longer qualify for the Urban Areas Security Initiative grant program, which public safety officials say amounts to a $5 million hit spread over 2011 and 2012.

Cities and towns in the region planned to use the funds -- administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security -- to complete work on a radio and computer network that will allow law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders at the local and state level to communicate over the same network.

To date, $10 million has been committed by the feds toward building the backbone of the network in the region, which comprises Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, Easton, Weston, Westport, Fairfield, Monroe, Trumbull and Stratford.

"I think that, in general, Washington has a hard time understanding Connecticut," Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said. "Look at what we've had to deal with. We've got Faisal Shahzad."

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the failed Times Square car-bombing by Shahzad, a Pakistani-American with known terrorist ties who was living in Bridgeport and was sentenced to life in prison with no parole.

Finch's criticism also coincides with last week's raid of an alleged bomb-making workshop run out of the Bridgeport condo of Nicholas Lahines, a former Greenwich resident who was arrested by federal agents.

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security representative said the agency is having to re-prioritize where funding is most needed because of budget cuts.

"In 2011, Congress cut DHS state and local preparedness grants by $780 million compared to the 2010 (fiscal year) enacted level, nearly a quarter of DHS grant funding," said spokesman Chris Ortman. "The highest-risk cities in our country continue to face the most significant threats, and, consistent with recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, the (fiscal year) 2011 homeland security grants focus the limited resources that were appropriated to mitigating and responding to these evolving threats."

Steve Davis, a Maryland-based emergency management consultant who specializes in the urban grants, said Bridgeport and Hartford were among 31 cities removed from the list of recipients for the upcoming fiscal year.

The top 10 most populous cities were kept whole, according to Davis, who said the medium-sized cities remaining on the list got cut by 30 percent.

"The hand-writing is on the wall for it to be even more severe than it was this year," Davis said of future funding for the grant program.

Between the Urban Areas Security Initiative grant program and the State Homeland Security grant program, the feds say Connecticut has $54.6 million available from the years 2006 to 2010 it can draw down.

The state is also expected to receive another $12 million in non-Urban Areas Security Initiative funding in the upcoming 2011 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

That is of little consolation to public safety officials who say they were counting on the grants to finish work on the communications network, however.

"It could be the ultimate game-changer in homeland security and emergency management in the state of Connecticut, and not for the better either," said Daniel Warzoha, Greenwich emergency management director.

Warzoha is chairman of the emergency planning team for Region 1 of the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the area encompassing the 14 cities and towns of lower Fairfield County.

The former Greenwich fire chief questioned the motives behind the cuts, which he said reeks of pandering to the largest cities rich in Democratic votes.

"This is politics 101, appealing to the person who needs to get re-elected to the White House in 2012," Warzoha said.

The uproar over the cuts is quickly becoming a political football, with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy co-signing a protest letter Monday with nine other fellow Democratic governors to leaders of the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee.

"With the ten-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaching, we write to express our alarm over potentially drastic cuts to state and local homeland security grants..." the governors wrote. "We urge you to reverse this course and restore the critical funds that enable state and local governments to protect our homeland and keep our communities safe."

In Stamford, where Malloy served as mayor from 1995 to 2009, city officials said they were blind-sided by the cuts.

"Here's the thing that bothers me: we are the second biggest commuter station outside of Grand Central," said Chris Munger, a retired FBI agent who is the city's emergency management consultant. "If anything happens in the city, we're going to get the brunt of it."

Munger warned the cuts will severely hamper efforts to improve communications between the municipalities in the region.

"We have the communication system in Stamford, but it's not good to us if the rest of the county doesn't have it," Munger said of the 700 MHz network.

Public safety officials said they will look to alternative sources of funding to complete the communications network, a vulnerability exposed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"One of the biggest problems on 9/11 was communication," said Davis, the emergency management consultant from Maryland. "Since then, communication has been a priority. It's to make sure police and firefighters and others can talk during the incident."

The state's homeland security agency reported it is busy developing a contingency plan in the wake of the cuts.

"We are presently still analyzing the full impact of these cuts and will be meeting with all of our local, state and federal partners to discuss how to effectively manage these cuts moving forward," said Scott DeVico, an agency spokesman. "The full impact of some of these cuts are not immediate because most of these grants run on a three-year grant cycle, but there will be potential impacts as we move forward."

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., who represents most of Fairfield County and a sliver of New Haven County, said in a statement the cuts point to a much deeper problem.

"These reductions in critical homeland security and emergency preparedness highlight the impact of our nation's deteriorating fiscal situation on investment at every level of government," Himes said. "After seeing our local law enforcement officials help to capture the Times Square bomber last year, it's hard to imagine their work is not essential to protecting us from terrorism.

"If we are going to continue to fund the investments in public safety, education, infrastructure, and economic development we know are important, we need a comprehensive budget plan that reforms the tax code and entitlements while cutting waste throughout government."

Finch plans to send a letter of appeal to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

"We can do more with less, but we can't do more with nothing," Finch said. "It doesn't seem logical to me since we've got so much invested in it. It looks to me like the end (of the project) is in sight."

The role cities and towns play in keeping the nation safe, Finch said, shouldn't be discounted.

"These aren't local concerns," Finch said. "These are national concerns that local towns have to deal with."

Internet runs out of addresses as devices grow
By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer
Tue Feb 1, 5:11 pm ET

NEW YORK – The spread of Internet use in Asia and the proliferation of Internet-connected phones worldwide are causing the Internet to run out of numerical addresses, which act as "phone numbers" to ensure that surfers reach websites and e-mails find their destination.

The top-level authority that governs such addresses will distribute the last batches on Thursday, two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement wasn't planned until Thursday.

That doesn't mean consumers will suddenly find websites unreachable, though. And if everything goes according to plan, Internet users won't even notice.

"It will just be 'business as usual' if everyone gets their job done," said John Curran, CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, or ARIN, one of five regional groups that dole out such addresses. ARIN covers the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean.

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, the top-level administrator of the system, has called a press conference in Miami on Thursday. One person said its last five "blocks" of Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses will be distributed then. These blocks, each with 16.8 million addresses, will be distributed to the regional registries. That means the regional groups will have IP addresses to distribute further to Internet service providers, websites and others before running out. Curran expects to deplete his allotment in six to nine months.

The current Internet address system, Internet Protocol version 4, has been in place since the 1980s. It allows for a theoretical maximum of 4.3 billion addresses in use, far beyond what was thought necessary for what was then mainly a network for academic use.

Engineers have known for years that the pool of these IP addresses would one day run out. Websites and service providers have been experimenting with a new technology that allows for many more addresses — an infinite number, for all practical purposes. But many have been slow to do so because of a lack of immediate benefits. The exhaustion of IP addresses at the top level puts pressure on them to move more quickly.

The new system is called Internet Protocol version 6, or IPv6. Curran said only about 2 percent of websites support it. However, many of those are the most-visited sites on the Internet, including Google and Facebook. He expects smaller sites to scramble for IPv6 addresses now.

As Internet service providers run out of IPv4 addresses, they'll have to give subscribers IPv6 addresses. The challenge lies in connecting them to websites that have only IPv4 addresses. In essence, IPv4 and IPv6 are different "languages." Several "translation" technologies are available, but they haven't been tested on a large scale, Curran said. That could lead to problems reaching some websites, or slow surfing.

"We're estimating how these boxes will work, but we haven't seen one deployed with tens of thousands of customers on it yet," Curran said.

The "end game" — the distribution of the last five blocks — was triggered by the distribution of two of the last seven blocks on Tuesday. They went to the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, the regional registry for East Asia (including India), Australia and the Pacific islands.

Weston Westport Health District

HURRICANE UPDATE: Weston officials ask residents to 'shelter in place'
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Friday, 26 August 2011 14:36

FRIDAY, 2 PM — Weston’s emergency management team met this afternoon to make plans for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, expected to hit Connecticut around 10 a.m. Sunday as a Category 1 hurricane.

“The town is as prepared as it can possibly be,” said First Selectman Gayle Weinstein.

According to reports from the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services at about noon on Friday, the first effects of Irene are expected to be felt in southwestern Connecticut Saturday afternoon with light rain, which forecasts indicate will become heavy by midnight.  Heavy rain is expected to continue from midnight Saturday through the passage of the center of Irene Sunday morning, especially in Western Connecticut, according to state emergency management officials.

Tropical storm-force winds (39-73 m.p.h.) are also expected to arrive around midnight Saturday, followed by hurricane-force winds (74 m.p.h. or more) just after daybreak Sunday.  The track of the storm could still change, emergency officials said.

Shelter in place

Weston officials are strongly urging townspeople to stay put once the storm hits.

“Our biggest concern, what we need people to understand is no one can be out on the road with winds as high as they are expected to be,” First Selectman Weinstein said.

That includes emergency vehicles, she said. Most fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles are not capable of being on the road and withstanding the heavy winds likely to accompany the storm.

 “People need to shelter in place and be aware that we may not be able to send emergency vehicles to assist you,” she said.

Ms. Weinstein said she is confident the town’s coordination efforts will make responding to the effects of Hurricane Irene easier.  She met Friday afternoon with Joe Micelli, the town’s acting emergency management director; Matt Brodacki, acting deputy emergency management director; Joe Lametta, highway department director; David Gay, road crew foreman; Tom Landry, town administrator; Jo-Ann Keating, director of finance and operations for the school district; and Tom Scarice, assistant superintendent, as well as members of the school custodial staff.

“The good part is we are all on the same page, and everyone knows what is expected of their department and other departments. I see us working in concert with one another,” Ms. Weinstein said.  The team plans to meet again Saturday at 4 p.m.  The town will be setting up an emergency operations center. There are contingency plans in place to open emergency shelters only if necessary, Ms. Weinstein said — the location will only be announced if a centralized shelter becomes necessary.

“We want people to shelter in place in their homes,” Ms. Weinstein said.

The first selectman urged Westonites to prepare now for the likelihood of losing electrical power, phone service, and water for several days. Aside from stocking emergency kits, non-perishable food, and drinking water, she reminded residents to fully charge cell phones and have a land line available.  The town will issue alerts if it can using its CodeRed messaging system and posting information online; this can be accessed using smartphones and Blackberry devices.

However, even with fully charged phones, cell towers that provide service are likely to be effected.

Ms. Weinstein cautioned residents to only use 9-1-1 for emergency purposes. “It’s not an information number,” she said. For information, check instead, if possible, the town Web site, as well as the CL&P Web site or telephone hotline, 800-286-2000.

US forecasters see busy hurricane season
Associated Press
Article published Aug 4, 2011

Miami (AP) — Exceptionally high ocean temperatures and atmospheric conditions that support hurricane development will keep the Atlantic and Caribbean on track for an above-average storm season, U.S. forecasters said Thursday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration slightly upgraded its May outlook, calling for 14 to 19 named tropical storms, up from a range of 14 to 18.

That includes the five tropical storms that have formed since the six-month hurricane season started June 1. It ends Nov. 30 and the peak period for hurricanes runs from August through October.

"We expect considerable activity," said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in Washington.

"There is absolutely no reason that people should be complacent," Bell said. "Now is the time people really need to make sure they have their hurricane preparedness plans in place."

Tropical storms get named when their top winds reach 39 mph or higher. NOAA now expects seven to 10 named storms to strengthen into hurricanes with top winds of 74 mph or higher, and three to five of those hurricanes could become major storms with winds blowing 111 mph or more.

In May, forecasters called for six to 10 hurricanes this season. The seasonal average is 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

Key climate factors predicted in May continue to boost forecasters' expectations for an above-average season, Bell said.

"The atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean are primed for high hurricane activity during August through October," Bell said. "Storms through October will form more frequently and become more intense than we've seen so far this season."

Atmospheric and marine conditions indicate a high-activity era that began in 1995 continues, and ocean temperatures are the third warmest on record, he said.

The La Nina weather phenomenon also may redevelop this fall, Bell said.

La Nina is an unusual cooling of the Pacific waters near the equator. It cuts wind shear over the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic, which gives tropical storms a chance to develop and strengthen before being ripped apart.

Forecasters say La Nina helped make the 2010 season one of the busiest on record with 19 named storms, including 12 hurricanes. The opposite El Nino phenomenon, which warms Pacific waters near the equator and increases wind shear over the Atlantic, helps suppress storm development.

"The numbers in May reflected the possibility that El Nino could develop. El Nino has not developed," Bell said.

Five tropical storms have developed so far this season.

The Mexican government reported 22 deaths after Tropical Storm Arlene came ashore June 30 with heavy rains that caused flooding and mudslides. Last week, Tropical Storm Don fizzled to a tropical depression just before crossing the Texas coastline.

On Thursday, officials urged Florida residents to monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Emily as it drenched the Caribbean island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The storm was likely to cross eastern Cuba on Friday and might touch Florida on Saturday, though the projected track would keep its center offshore, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The last hurricane to make landfall in the United States was Ike in 2008. Though not considered a major hurricane, Ike caused $10 billion in damage in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, making it the third-costliest storm after Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Andrew in 1992, according to the hurricane center.

The last major hurricane to strike the U.S. was Category 3 Hurricane Wilma, which made landfall in Florida in 2005.

"We've been quite lucky in recent years, but that's no reason to be complacent," said Steve Woodward, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's deputy assistant administrator for response. "As spring and summer have taught us, with tornadoes and flooding and the heat wave, disasters can strike practically anytime and anywhere."

Hurricane season 2010...how many can we expect this year?

Tropical Storm Tomas approaches Haiti, Jamaica
By JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press
4 Nov. 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti urged hundreds of thousands of homeless quake survivors to flee tents and tarps for sturdier shelter Thursday as Tropical Storm Tomas closed in with rains that threaten to unleash devastating floods. Many stayed put — either to protect their few possessions for lack of anywhere to go.

The storm was expected to brush Jamaica's eastern provinces and then regain hurricane strength before passing near the western coast of Haiti early Friday morning with heavy rains, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Haiti's government urged evacuation of the emergency camps set up after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

As the skies darkened over Port-au-Prince and roof-tarps started flapping in the wind Thursday morning, a policeman at the Corail-Cesselesse camp shouted through a megaphone: "The hurricane is not a joke! ... You need to get out of here!"

Survivors of the devastating earthquake have fought forced evictions, weathered storms, organized themselves into security committees, and rallied for better services and aid. Now they are being told to leave — and few have anywhere to go.

The government says more than 1,000 shelters are available, but that can refer to any building expected to stand up to high winds. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said there is a need to identify safe potential storm shelters.

Painfully slow reconstruction from the quake, prior storms and the recent commitment of government resources to fight a growing cholera epidemic have left people with few options as overtaxed aid workers struggle to help.

"We are using radio stations to announce to people that if they don't have a place to go, but they have friends and families, they should move into a place that is secure," said civil protection official Nadia Lochard, who oversees the department that includes the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Fear and confusion have swept through many of the camps. Tensions boiled over into scuffles Wednesday at the Corail camp when managers tried to explain a planned voluntary evacuation of nearly 8,000 people from ShelterBox tents once promised to be hurricane-resistant.

The tentative plan there, as at several other camps, is to move some people to schools, churches, and other structures such as abandoned prisons. But most of the homeless are being told to seek out friends or family who can take them in.

As news of Tomas' predicted arrival slowly filtered through Port-au-Prince via windup radios and megaphone announcements, unease set in among people who already lost homes and loved ones in the quake and saw their tents ripped apart in lesser storms this year.

"The tension is elevated. People are really concerned about their belongings. They're posing a lot of legitimate questions," said Bryant Castro, a American Refugee Committee staffer at Corail-Cesselesse.

Concerns are even greater in the western reaches of Haiti's southern peninsula, where heavy flooding is predicted.

Disaster officials have extended a red alert, their highest storm warning, to all regions of the country, as the storm is expected to wind its way up the west coast of the island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, through storm-vulnerable Gonaives and Haiti's second-largest city, Cap-Haitien, sometime Friday.

By midday Thursday, Tomas had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (kph). It was centered 295 miles (475 kilometers) west-southwest of Port-au-Prince and moving north at 8 mph (13 kph).

Tomas killed at least 14 people when it hit the eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia as a hurricane on Saturday.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Haiti, the southeastern Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cuban province of Guantanamo. A tropical storm warning was issued for Jamaica.

In Kingston, Jamaica, the Office of Disaster Preparedness said people in eastern provinces should evacuate low-lying areas. Schools were closed in Kingston, the capital, and surrounding parishes.

Jamaica is still struggling to recover from floods unleashed by Tropical Storm Nicole in late September that killed at least 13 people and caused an estimated $125 million in damage.

People who are still using boats to move about in the island's rural western regions also will be moved to shelters, said Ronald Jackson, of the emergency management office.

Tropical Storm Nicole forms, may skirt Florida
By WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press Writer
29 September 2010

HAVANA – Newly formed Tropical Storm Nicole soaked central and eastern Cuba on Wednesday, washing out some roads but sparing the crumbling buildings of the capital as the system pushed northeast toward the Bahamas. At least one death was recorded due to flooding in Jamaica.

The storm had sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and it was not expected to grow much further as it passes over the ocean east of Florida on a track that could carry it over parts of the Bahamas by evening, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

It said the sprawling system could still cause heavy rains and spawn tornadoes in Florida, however.

By late Wednesday morning, the storm was centered about 120 miles (195 kilometers) east-southeast of Havana and 260 miles (420 kilometers) southwest of Nassau in the Bahamas. It was advancing toward the northeast at 9 mph (15 kph)

Cuba's chief meteorologist, Jose Rubiera, said the storm rolled across a swath of the west-central island overnight and its center was moving north of the island. Bands behind its core were continuing to bring heavy rains, however.

Rubiera said wind associated with the storm was not a threat, but that provinces from Matanzas east all the way to Guantanamo would continue to face downpours throughout the day.

"The important factor remains the rain," Rubiera said.

State-controlled television showed images of rain flooding roads and highways, especially around the eastern city of Santiago, but there were no reports of damage. Far to the west in Havana, it wasn't even raining and there was no flooding.

Communist Cuba has a well-trained civil defense force praised for its fast response to natural disasters, one that often uses mandatory evacuations to move people to safety in many parts of the island. Authorities often order thousands of evacuations ahead of even moderate storms — but there were no such orders reported for the depression.

Jamaica's Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management on Wednesday reported collapsed bridges, flooded roads and mudslides and it said that a boy was washed away before dawn when a house next to a paved gully collapsed in St. Andrew parish. Emergency workers were trying to recover his body from rust-colored waters.

Across the Caribbean country, several bridges collapsed overnight under the force of the flooded rivers and creeks. Schools and some businesses were closed as emergency officials braced for more rain through Friday.

In the capital of Kingston, underpasses flooded as the torrents overwhelmed storm water drains. Some motorists were stuck when their cars stalled in knee-deep waters. Most traffic lights were out and roads were littered with debris.

Police in Westmoreland parish's capital of Savanna-la-Mar said the community was hit by a waterspout overnight that ripped the roofs off a couple of buildings and sent four people to a local hospital with abrasions.

The depression was also felt Tuesday south of Cuba in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, where meteorologists said more than four inches (10 centimeters) of rain fell in just 12 hours, causing flooding. Public schools closed and government workers from low-lying areas were allowed to leave early.

Chief Grand Cayman Meteorologist John Tibbetts said 5- to 7-foot (1.5- to 2-meter) waves were forecast through Wednesday night and warned boaters to remain ashore.

Hurricane Igor takes aim at Bermuda
18 September 2010

HAMILTON (Reuters) – Hurricane Igor churned across the Atlantic Ocean toward Bermuda on Saturday packing powerful winds and heavy rains as island residents stocked up on supplies and worked to secure their homes.

The Category 2 storm was located about 440 miles south of the tiny British overseas territory at 11 a.m.. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Igor was on a path to reach Bermuda late on Sunday, but warned tropical storm weather was expected later Saturday.

"Igor is expected to remain a dangerous hurricane as it approaches Bermuda," the Miami-based hurricane center said.  A hurricane warning was in effect for Bermuda, a wealthy hub for the global insurance industry and one of the world's most isolated yet densely populated islands.  Most stores and restaurants in the capital of Hamilton were boarded up and many residents stocked up on gas, batteries, food and candles.

"The shutters are up, I've put tape across the windows and I've got a lot of buckets ready," said Eddie DeSilva, a 64-year-old cleaner.

Bermuda's buildings are some of the best-constructed in the world, weather forecasters and analysts say, which could help mitigate any potential storm damage.  Igor had sustained winds of 110 mph, with hurricane-force winds extending out for 105 miles, the hurricane center said.

Powerful Hurricane Karl nears Mexican Gulf coast
17 September 2010

VERACRUZ, Mexico – Hurricane Karl smashed into Mexico's Gulf Coast on Friday, creating havoc in the major port city of Veracruz and forcing the country to shut down its only nuclear power plant and its central Gulf Coast oil platforms...

Tropical Storm Hermine gaining strength in Gulf
6 September 2010

MIAMI – Tropical Storm Hermine is getting a little stronger in the Gulf of Mexico as it heads toward the coasts of Texas and Mexico.

A tropical storm warning was issued early Monday for the southern Texas coast. A tropical storm warning was already in effect for the coast of Mexico from Tampico to the mouth of the Rio Grande.

Hermine's maximum sustained winds have increased to near 45 mph (75 kph) with some additional strengthening expected before the storm makes landfall.

Heavy rain is predicted with northeastern Mexico into south Texas getting 4 to 8 inches with as much as a foot in some places. It could cause flash floods and mudslides.

The storm is located about 280 miles (450 kilometers) south-southeast of Brownsville, Texas, and is moving north near 10 mph (17 kph).

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

MIAMI (AP) — Tropical Storm Hermine is getting a little stronger in the Gulf of Mexico as it heads toward the coasts of Texas and Mexico.  A tropical storm warning was issued early Monday for the southern Texas coast. A tropical storm warning was already in effect for the coast of Mexico from Tampico to the mouth of the Rio Grande.  Hermine's maximum sustained winds have increased to near 45 mph (75 kph) with some additional strengthening expected before the storm makes landfall.

Heavy rain is predicted with northeastern Mexico into south Texas getting 4 to 8 inches with as much as a foot in some places. It could cause flash floods and mudslides. 
The storm is located about 280 miles (450 kilometers) south-southeast of Bronwsville, Texas, and is moving north near 10 mph (17 kph).

Hurricane Earl lashes Caribbean, threatens US
By MIKE MELIA, Associated Press Writer
30 August 2010

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Hurricane Earl lashed the northeastern Caribbean with heavy rain and strong winds Monday, causing flooding in low-lying parts of the Leeward Islands as it gained strength on a course that could threaten the eastern United States later this week.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Earl, which formed on Sunday, already had sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) and was likely to keep growing.

"It is possible that Earl could become a Category 4 hurricane as we get into the middle to late portions of the week," hurricane center specialist Michael Brennan said. Category 4 storms have sustained winds of at least 131 mph (210 kph).

The storm's forecast track would carry its center north of the Caribbean, then forecasters say it is likely to bend to the north, moving roughly parallel to the U.S. East Coast. The hurricane center said it is early to say what impact if any Earl would have on the U.S.

In Antigua, powerful wind and rain destroyed at least one home and at least eight people had to be evacuated, though there were no reports of critical injuries. Emergency response officials said about 350 people were in shelters. Local weather authorities reported at least 5 inches (13 centimeters) of rain and 10-foot (3-meter) waves.

In St. Maarten, the storm toppled trees and knocked out electricity to much of the island but there were no reports of serious damage. Heavy gusts of wind swirled debris across streets that were empty due to a government-imposed curfew.

Alisha Daya, a 24-year-old tourist from Milwaukee, said she wore earplugs Sunday night but still had trouble sleeping because of the noise from the wind and crashing waves at the Oyster Bay Beach Resort in St. Maarten.

"It was loud because we were right on the ocean," said Daya, who said the storm will keep her and her parents and boyfriend from leaving the island as planned on Monday although the worst seemed to have passed. "Some furniture is flying around, but everything seems to be OK."

Cruise lines diverted ships to other ports in the Caribbean and Mexico as a customary precaution for tropical weather. Antigua's V.C. Bird International Airport closed, and regional airlines LIAT and Winair suspended flights.

Hurricane warnings were in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius, the British Virgin Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Early Monday, Earl was about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north-northeast of St. Martin and headed west-northwest at 14 mph (22 kph), according to the center in Miami. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 50 miles (85 kilometers) from its center.

Earl has grown rapidly in strength, fueled by warm ocean temperatures of 86 F (30 C).

Earl could bring battering waves and storm surges of up to four feet (1.2 meters) above normal on some islands, as well as downpours that threaten to unleash flash floods and mudslides.

Forecasters say there is a chance the hurricane could brush the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region toward the end of the week, with its closest approach to North Carolina on Friday.

In any case, the U.S. East Coast is likely to see pounding surf.

"Folks from the Carolinas northward through the Mid-Atlantic and New England need to be paying attention to Earl and the forecasts as they get updated through the week," Brennan said.

Meanwhile, the Category 1 Hurricane Danielle was weakening far out over the north Atlantic.

Brace for active hurricane season
By CHASE WRIGHT, Hour Staff Writer
31 May 2010

Experts predict the upcoming hurricane season will be a top 10 year and may seem "extremely active" in comparison to last year, which was relatively calm.

AccuWeather Chief Hurricane Meteorologist Joe Bastardi expects 16 to 18 storms to hit the Atlantic basin this season, and at least six of those will impact the United States coastline.

"2010 will be above average, and worst case scenario it may be in the top 5 to 10 percent as far as impact to land areas in the Western Hemisphere," Bastardi said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an "active to extremely active" hurricane season in the Atlantic.

For the six-month season, which officially begins Tuesday, NOAA is projecting as many as 23 named tropical storms, including up to seven major hurricanes.  Between eight to 14 storms would strengthen into hurricanes, with top winds of 74 mph or higher. Three to seven of those could become major storms that reach Category 3 or higher -- meaning they bring sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

"If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record," agency Administrator Jane Lubchenco said.

The outlook ranges exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.  Amy Godsey, state meteorologist for Florida, told The Hour that predictions for the upcoming hurricane season are based on warming waters in the Atlantic and weak upper atmospheric winds, which are conducive for storms.

"The big thing is how much decay will there be in El Niño," Godsey said. "There's still some uncertainty whether El Niño will drop to neutral conditions or swing toward La Niña. If that happens, you're looking at named storms in the 20s."

El Niño in the eastern Pacific has dissipated since peaking in December, which means wind shear will be weaker and thus less likely to break up storms, she said.  Strong wind shear helped suppress storm development during the 2009 hurricane season when only nine storms formed, she said.  With a busy hurricane season on the horizon, Godsey suggests families and business owners in take time to evaluate their emergency preparedness.

More information on how to prepare can be found at www.Ready.gov and www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.

Just wait a few weeks or so...
After fix fail, a dispiriting summer of oil, anger

By TED ANTHONY and MARY FOSTER, Associated Press Writers
30 May 2010

BOOTHVILLE, La. – There is still a hole in the Earth, crude oil is still spewing from it and there is still, excruciatingly, no end in sight. After trying and trying again, one of the world's largest corporations, backed and pushed by the world's most powerful government, can't stop the runaway gusher.

As desperation grows and ecological misery spreads, the operative word on the ground now is, incredibly, August -- the earliest moment that a real resolution could be at hand. And even then, there's no guarantee of success. For the United States and the people of its beleaguered Gulf Coast, a dispiriting summer of oil and anger lies dead ahead.

Oh ... and the Atlantic hurricane season begins Tuesday.

The latest attempt — using a remote robotic arm to stuff golf balls and assorted debris into the gash in the seafloor — didn't work. On Sunday, as churches echoed with prayers for a solution, BP PLC said it would focus on containment rather than plugging the undersea puncture wound, effectively redirecting the mess it made rather than stopping it. Yet the new plan carries the risk of making the torrent worse, as top government officials warned Sunday.

"We failed to wrestle this beast to the ground," said BP Managing Director Bob Dudley, doing the rounds of the Sunday talk shows.

As the oil washes ashore, crude-coated birds have become a frequent sight. At the sea's bottom, no one knows what the oil will do to species like the newly discovered bottom-dwelling pancake batfish — and others that remain unknown but just as threatened.

Scientists from several universities have reported large underwater plumes of oil stretching for miles and reaching hundreds of feet beneath the Gulf's surface, though BP PLC CEO Tony Hayward on Sunday disputed their findings, saying the company's tests found no such evidence of oily clouds underwater.

"The oil is on the surface," Hayward said. "Oil has a specific gravity that's about half that of water. It wants to get to the surface because of the difference in specific gravity."

Perhaps most alarming of all, 40 days after the Deepwater Horizon blew up and began the underwater deluge, hurricane season is at hand. It brings the horrifying possibility of wind-whipped, oil-soaked waves and water spinning ashore and coating areas much farther inland. Imagine Katrina plus oil spill.

The spill is already the worst in American history — worse, even, than the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster. It has already released between 18 million and 40 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, according to government estimates.

"This is probably the biggest environmental disaster we've ever faced in this country," White House Energy and Climate Change Advisor Carol Browner said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

At some point — the widespread debut of the BP "spillcam" is as good a delineation point as any — this tipped, in the national conversation, from a destructive event into a calamitous, open-ended saga. And for the bruised and cantankerous American psyche, it could not come at a worse time.

Fear is everywhere, and polarization prevails. Faith in institutions — corporations, government, the media — is down. Americans are angry, and they long ago grew accustomed to expecting the resolution of problems in very short order, even if reality rarely works that way.

So when something undefined and uncontrollable happens, they speculate in all the modern forums about collusion and nefarious dealings. In the process, this tale of environmental disaster and economic damage cripples the sea-to-shining-sea narrative that usually offers Americans comfort during uncertain times.

"There are people who are getting desperate, and there are more getting anxious as we get further into the shrimping season and there is less chance they will recover," said the Rev. Theodore Turner, 57, at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Boothville, near where oil first washed ashore. Fishermen make up about a third of his congregation.

BP's next containment effort involves an assortment of undersea robot maneuvers that would redirect the oil up and out of the water it is poisoning.

The first step in BP's latest effort is the intricate removal of a damaged riser that brought oil to the surface of the Deepwater Horizon rig. The riser will be cut at the top of the crippled blowout preventer, creating a flat surface that a new containment valve can seal against.

The valve would force the oil into a new riser, bringing it up to a ship. The seal, however, would not prevent all oil from escaping. White House energy czar Carol Browner said Sunday the effort could result in a temporary 20 percent increase in the flow. BP has said it didn't expect a significant increase in flow from the cutting and capping plan.

If the containment valve fails, BP may try installing a blowout preventer on top of the existing one.

In the end, however, a relief well would ease the pressure on the runaway gusher in favor of a controlled pumping — essentially what the Deepwater Horizon was trying to do in the first place. But that will take at least two months.

Using government figures, if the leak continues at its current pace and is stopped on Aug. 1, 51 million to 106 million gallons will have spilled.

"They are going to destroy south Louisiana. We are dying a slow death here," said Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, La.

Coastal tent cities are about to rise to house the workers and contractors minimizing the damage. Sand banks and barriers are being built. But the consensus around the Gulf Coast is turning more apoplectic and apocalyptic. This is, people are starting to say, a generational event — tragic to this generation, potentially crippling to the next.

"The oil spill is part of prophecy," said Turner, the Louisiana minister. "The Bible prophesized hardships. If we believe the word of God is true — and we do — we also know that in addition to prophecying hardships he promised to take care of us."

The Obama administration, which has been grilled for not taking the reins sooner, sought to assure the public.

"I am resolute and confident that we will see a better day ahead of us," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Saturday. And yet that statement, stacked up against the word "August," tempers the optimism for many watching this saga unfold.

They see a dissembling corporation, an ineffective government and an ocean surface covered by a viscous shell with the consistency of molasses and the peril of poison. To them, it comes down to only this: There is still a hole in the Earth. Crude oil is still spewing from it. And there is still, excruciatingly, no end in sight.

M A N D A T E   A L E R T


CPR switch: Chest presses first, then give breaths
By JAMIE STENGLE, Associated Press Writer
Mon Oct 18, 6:34 am ET
DALLAS – New guidelines out Monday switch up the steps for CPR, telling rescuers to start with hard, fast chest presses before giving mouth-to-mouth.

The change puts "the simplest step first" for traditional CPR, said Dr. Michael Sayre, co-author of the guidelines issued by the American Heart Association.

In recent years, CPR guidance has been revised to put more emphasis on chest pushes for sudden cardiac arrest. In 2008, the heart group said untrained bystanders or those unwilling to do rescue breaths could do hands-only CPR until paramedics arrive or a defibrillator is used to restore a normal heart beat.

Now, the group says everyone from professionals to bystanders who use standard CPR should begin with chest compressions instead of opening the victim's airway and breathing into their mouth first.  The change ditches the old ABC training — airway-breathing-compressions. That called for rescuers to give two breaths first, then alternate with 30 presses.  Sayre said that approach took time and delayed chest presses, which keep the blood circulating.

"When the rescuer pushes hard and fast on the victim's chest, they're really acting like an artificial heart. That blood carries oxygen that helps keep the organs alive till help arrives," said Sayre, an emergency doctor at Ohio State University Medical Center.

"Put one hand on top of the other and push really hard," he said.

Sudden cardiac arrest — when the heart suddenly stops beating — can occur after a heart attack or as a result of electrocution or near-drowning. The person collapses, stops breathing normally and is unresponsive. Survival rates from cardiac arrest outside the hospital vary across the country — from 3 percent to 15 percent, according to Sayre.  Under the revised guidelines, rescuers using traditional CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, should start chest compressions immediately — 30 chest presses, then two breaths. The change applies to adults and children, but not newborns.

One CPR researcher, though, expressed disappointment with the new guidelines. Dr. Gordon Ewy of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center thinks everyone should be doing hands-only CPR for sudden cardiac arrest, and skipping mouth-to-mouth. He said the guidelines could note the cases where breaths should still be given, like near-drownings and drug overdoses, when breathing problems likely led to the cardiac arrest.

Ewy is one of the authors of a recently published U.S. study that showed more people survived cardiac arrest when a bystander gave them hands-only CPR, compared to CPR with breaths.  The guidelines issued Monday also say that rescuers should be pushing deeper, at least 2 inches in adults. Rescuers should pump the chest of the victim at a rate of at least 100 compressions a minute — some say a good guide is the beat of the old disco song "Stayin' Alive."

Dr. Ahamed Idris, of the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, said people are sometimes afraid that they'll hurt the patient. Others have a hard time judging how hard they are pressing, he said.

"We want to make sure people understand they're not going to hurt the person they're doing CPR on by pressing as hard as they can," he said.

Idris, who directs the Dallas-Fort Worth Center for Resuscitation Research, said that for the last two years, they've been advising local paramedics to start with chest compressions and keep them up with minimal interruptions. That, along with intensive training, has helped improve survival rates, he said.  He said they found paramedics hadn't been starting compressions until the patient was in the ambulance and lost time getting airway equipment together.

"The best chance was to start chest compressions in the house, immediately," he said.

Weston EMS explain what to do if your child is injured

Weston FORUM
Written by Susan Jordan, WVFD

Saturday, 27 March 2010 00:00

On Thursday night, March 18, the Weston Intermediate School was filled with people wearing Weston EMS blue. Parents gathered at a symposium learned the answers to the questions parents fear most: What do I do if something happens to my child? When do I call 911? What should I do while I’m waiting?

Nisan Evantoff, director of Weston Injury Prevention and the Heart Smart Program for Weston EMS, and Dana Katz, chairman of the intermediate school PTO Parent Program Committee, spearheaded the symposium.

The evening started with a panel of Weston EMS members discussing different aspects of medical emergencies. The panel included Jon Weingarten, president of Weston EMS; JT Sollazzo, chief of Weston EMS; Michael Schlecter, training officer of Weston EMS; Mark Goldenberg, safety officer of Weston EMS; plus Mr. Evantoff and Sgt. Michael Ferullo of the Weston Police Department, director of emergency management in Weston.

“We take great pride in educating parents of Weston in preventing injuries,” Mr. Weingarten said. He then went on to read some sobering statistics, including:

• Injury is the leading cause of death in children — falls, bike injuries and drowning.

• Airway obstruction is the leading cause of death in children under one.

Mr. Weingarten said, “There are common sense strategies for preventing these injuries ... but when an injury does happen it’s important to know the steps to take.”

These include:

• Recognize the nature and extent of the injury;

• Call 911 for help and give your address clearly;

• Initiate appropriate first aid; and

• Support your injured child and your other children.

Weston EMT Julia Braden talks to Tiffany and Steve Chila about bone injuries at a recent childhood injuries symposium.

Mr. Solazzo spoke about the EMS squad. “Last year, Weston EMS went on 604 calls. We have members all over town so that a first responder can get to your house right away with the police to help even before the ambulance arrives.”

He also thanked the people of Weston for supporting EMS with donations. “The contributions from all of you are what we use to keep our organization running. We don’t receive funding from the town of Weston.”

Mr. Schlecter talked about the importance of ongoing training and told the group that EMS holds two training sessions a month. “Tonight, we want to give you training to improve your preparedness. You need to know what you can do while waiting for the ambulance to arrive,” Mr. Schlecter said.

He and other panelists repeated throughout the evening that parents should not feel shy about calling 911. If you’re worried, you should call, Mr. Schlecter said. “No one knows your child and what is normal or not normal better than you.”

Sgt. Ferullo discussed the CodeRed calls from Weston dispatch used during last weekend’s storm. He said Weston Police, Fire and EMS work together as a team. “The police are first on the scene followed by the ambulance and fire if necessary.”

Mr. Goldenberg talked about making sure a scene is safe. “That means protective eyewear if you are using chemicals or equipment and always using a spotter if you’re on a ladder,” he explained. He also encouraged parents to check their child’s sports equipment and said, “if a helmet has a crack in it, throw it out.”

The panel took questions from the floor and discussion followed on topics like, “What do I do if my child passes out?” Panel members explained the importance of always making sure the airway is clear first and then calling 911 for direction on what you can do while waiting for the ambulance.

If a child has fallen, the child should not be moved until an assessment can be made on any spinal cord injury.

Attendees broke into smaller groups for hands-on training. The EMTs were at stations showing how to treat allergic reactions, broken bones, and bleeding. There was also a station for hands-only CPR on a mannequin.

T H E    S T O R M    -   P O W E R   L I N E S    D O W N    A N D    R I V E R S    R I S I N G . . .

Saturday at 6pm (l.6pm);  Sunday at @10am (c.);  DPW worked through the night, coordinating with PD, EMS and FD;  by @5pm Sunday (r.) - March 12,13,14, 2010 rain and wind storm bigger event elsewhere...but that's if you didn't lose power!

Photo not previously published
CleanHarbors (the same firm?) at a regional household hazardous waste collection.  Senator Dodd visits Kleen Energy plant site Feb. 16, 2010.  Chemical Safety Board review news. 2013 CT Energy policy favors more natural gas in "energy basket."

Lawyers representing Middletown power plant blast victims want site preserved

Michael Naughton
Article published Mar 1, 2010

Two lawyers representing three men who were injured and the family of one who was killed in the Middletown power plant explosion last month are filing court documents seeking to preserve that they call evidence on the property.

Robert I. Reardon Jr. and  Reese Norris are filing a "bill of discovery" today in Middletown Superior Court, seeking a court order that the Middletown  site and evidence on it be preserved to allow their experts to investigate further.

Police investigators last week released the site of the Feb. 7 explosion back to the owners, O&G Industries and Kleen Energy Systems. The order the two lawyers are seeking would bar O&G and Kleen Energy from doing any clean up from the blast or continue construction of the energy plant, which was near completion when it blew up.

Five workers were killed in the explosion and several dozen were injured.

Reardon represents Joseph Scovish of Oakdale, Kenneth Meloney of Oakdale, and Dennis Riley of Manchester. He said all three received head, neck and back injuries in the blast.

Norris represents the wife of Peter Chepulis, who was killed.

The lawyers are also including the city of Middletown in the request, saying that investigators seized evidence after the blast.

KLEEN ENERGY: Agency Urges Moratorium On Power-Plant Gas Line Purges
By DAVE ALTIMARI, The Hartford Courant
February 26, 2010

Click here to find out more!

Federal authorities investigating the Kleen Energy plant explosion are calling on similar plants or any industry that conducts high-pressure natural gas purges to stop them until safer regulations can be put in place.

Donald Holmstrom, the lead investigator for the Chemical Safety Review Board, said at a press conference Thursday that there is an absence of regulations guiding companies on how to safely do these dangerous gas "blows."

Holmstrom said that the board expects to make recommendations to improve the purging procedure and that Congress will hold hearings and hopefully approve legislation to put new regulations for purging in place.

"There are no national requirements to use safe practices in what is becoming a much more common occurrence all across the country," Holmstrom said. "We strongly caution natural gas power plants and other industries against the venting of high-pressure natural gas in or near work sites. This practice, although common, is inherently unsafe."

The Kleen Energy blast on Feb. 7, which killed six and injured 26, occurred during the purging, or cleaning, of a natural-gas pipeline leading to the turbines in the main power block building. The gas was purged from the auxiliary boiler on the southeastern side of the power block building through a pipe that ran along the back wall of the building.

The gas was vented out of temporary pipes less than 20 feet off the ground all along the back of the building, Holmstrom said. One of those venting pipes was in the tunnel-like area between the two giant towers, known as heat recovery steam generators, behind the main building.

Holmstrom said that close to 400,000 cubic feet of natural gas, or enough gas to fill a basketball arena, was purged into the mostly enclosed area in the 10 minutes before the explosion occurred.

Holmstrom said that dumping the gas into such a congested area slowed the dispersal rate and allowed the gas to build up to a point that it reached the lowest explosive limit of at least 4 percent natural gas and the rest air.

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the explosion, but Holmstrom said that's not a big focus of his agency right now. The gas could have been ignited by one of several ignition sources because welding and grinding were going on during the purge, a diesel fuel heater was near the back wall of the building near where the explosion occurred, and welders' work tables in the courtyard area might have been charged.

Also, radio transmissions or even static electricity could have sparked the blast, sources said.

"Ignition sources are hard to determine and this case is no different — there were numerous potential ignition sources in and around that building," Holmstrom said. "We're focusing on preventing something like this happening again and in developing safe practices for the people who work in these plants."

Holmstrom said one area that his investigators are reviewing is eliminating the use of natural gas during the purges and instead possibly replacing it with air, steam, nitrogen or even water. He said that there also is a possibility of using combustion devices, similar to flares, that can safely burn up the flammable gas or vapor.

Investigators believe that the six men killed were working in the southwestern corner of the power block building, the closest part of the building to where the blast occurred in the courtyard area.

A multi-agency group of local, state and federal agencies has been working on the investigation. Investigators from the Chemical Safety Review Board were originally not allowed into the Kleen Energy site because they were not considered members of a law enforcement agency.

After several days of backroom dealing between state and federal officials and congressional representatives, the team of 10 safety board investigators was allowed on the site. The investigators have been conducting their own interviews with witnesses, reviewing documents and examining the blast site.

Holmstrom said they are still trying to work out an agreement with state and local officials about the handling of evidence. Investigators obtained a search warrant earlier this week allowing them to remove as many as 75 pieces of evidence from the site.

The Chemical Safety Review Board is a federal agency that was formed to investigate industrial accidents such as the Kleen Energy explosion. The board has no criminal authority. Its recommendations carry significant impact in changing fire and building codes.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

Middletown Power Plant Explosion: Massive Amount Of Gas Released Before Blast
Dave Altimari, The Hartford Courant
11:18 AM EST, February 25, 2010


Close to 400,000 cubic feet of gas was released into the atmosphere behind the Kleen Energy building in the final 10 minutes before the explosion that killed six and injured 27, the lead investigator of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said today.

Donald Holmstrom, lead investigator of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, said that the gas was released into a congested area next to the power block building, and that the congested area likely slowed the dispersion of the gas and was ignited by an undetermined ignition source. The gas released was enough to fill a basketball arena, Holmstrom said.

"A major focus of the CSB investigation is to determine what regulations, codes, and good practices might apply to these gas blows, '' said Holmstrom.

He added, at a morning press conference in Middletown: "To this point, no specific codes have been identified, but we are continuing our research. In the meantime, we strongly caution national gas power plants and other industries against the venting of high pressure natural gas in or near work sites. This practice, although common, is inherently unsafe."

The blast on Feb. 7 occurred during the purging, or cleaning, of a natural-gas pipeline leading to the turbines in the power building. The purged gas was directed outside the building -- the preferred method, according to national safety experts. But a huge amount of the gas pooled in a bowl-like area behind the main power block building while crews were working inside.

The gas could have been ignited by one of several ignition sources because welding and grinding was going on during the purge, a diesel fuel heater was located near the back wall of the building near where the explosion occurred, and welders' work tables located in the courtyard area may have been charged.

In addition to the equipment, radio transmissions or even static electricity could have sparked the blast, sources said. Investigators believe the workers who were killed were working in the southwestern corner of the power block building, the closest part of the building to where the blast occurred right outside in a tunnel-like space called the courtyard, between two giant towers.

A multi-agency group of local, state and federal agencies has been working on the investigation. CSB investigators were originally not allowed into the Kleen Energy site because they were not considered a law enforcement agency.  After several days of backroom dealing between state and federal officials and Congressional representatives, the CSB investigators were allowed on the site. They have been conducting their own interviews with witnesses.

The CSB is a little-known federal agency that was formed to investigate industrial accidents such as the Kleen Energy explosion. While the board has no criminal authority, its recommendations carry significant impact in changing fire and building codes.

On Wednesday the National Fire Protection Association approved several of the board's recommendations stemming from its investigation into the ConAgra plant explosion in Garner, N.C., last June that killed three and injured dozens more. At the ConAgra plant, workers were purging air from a natural-gas pipe so that they could light a new water heater. The vented gas built up in a utility room and exploded.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

6th victim dies from plant explosion injuries
The Associated Press

Article published Feb 19, 2010

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) _ A sixth person has died from injuries received in a Feb. 7 power plant explosion in Connecticut.

Middletown Police say that Kenneth Haskell of New Durham, N.H., died Friday afternoon at Hartford Hospital.

The police say the 37-year-old Haskell was a superintendent for Keystone Construction and Maintenance Services at the Kleen Energy Plant.

Mayor Sebastian Giuliano says "It's like that Sunday all over again." He says "It's just very sad."

The explosion at the nearly completed plant came as workers purged a natural gas line.

Twenty people were also injured.

Report: Warning issued just before Middletown blast
Associated Press
Article published Feb 18, 2010

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) — A worker monitoring natural gas levels at a Middletown power plant reportedly called for an evacuation moments before last week's explosion that killed five workers.

The Hartford Courant, citing witnesses and investigators it did not identify, said the message, radioed throughout the Kleen Energy plant, warned workers that gas meter readings had spiked.

Workers have told The Associted Press that they left after smelling gas, but made no mention of an evacuation order. Middletown South District Deputy Fire Chief Marc Fongemie said Thursday he did not know if such an order was issued.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that investigators have recovered the two gas meters used at the time of the explosion, which occurred while workers were purging gas lines at the plant, which was under construction.

Crews Continue To Burn Off Fuel At Middletown Explosion Site
12:34 PM EST, February 14, 2010


Environmental crews remained at the Kleen Energy power plant Sunday to burn off fuel from potentially dangerous containers.

Houston-based Clean Harbors spent Saturday performing the procedure, and will continue doing so during the day Sunday and possibly Monday, said South District Deputy Fire Chief Marc Fongemie.

Many gas cylinders were damaged in an explosion last Sunday, which killed 5 people and injured 27, said Fongemie. Because of the damage, the cylinders are not considered safe enough to transport, and their contents must be burned off on-site.

Fongemie said anyone seeing black smoke from the plant should not worry, and that the procedure is not considered dangerous to area residents.

MIDDLETOWN: Huge Buildup Of Gas Outdoors A Puzzle In Middletown Blast Investigation
February 11, 2010

The five men killed in Sunday's blast at the Kleen Energy power plant in Middletown were on the crew assigned to prepare a natural gas pipe and turbine for purging inside the main power building.

They were responsible for monitoring the pipe during and after the purging operation, sources said. All other nonessential personnel left the building when the purging process was started.

At some point, several workers said, they smelled a strong odor of natural gas inside and outside the main power building.

A union worker said he was told by co-workers that one or more electricians working inside the building walked out because of the smell. By leaving, they may have saved their lives because the force of the blast, which occurred outdoors in what was known as the courtyard behind the main power building, literally blew the walls off the building.

The men left inside the building were killed by shrapnel and other flying debris and not the initial explosion, a law enforcement source said. Their bodies were found in front of the main building.

Peter Chepulis, Raymond Dobratz and Ronald Crabb were pipe fitters; Chris Walters was a safety manager for Keystone Construction, a subcontractor; and Roy Rushton was a supervisor involved with the installation of the gas turbines at the plant.

Twenty-seven people were injured in the explosion. Most were standing outside after they left the building while the purging took place or were in construction trailers waiting for the test to be completed. The blast threw some of them at least 40 feet in the air, but most of the dangerous debris was blown forward through the main building.

Investigators believe the explosion originated in the rectangular courtyard between the two giant retention towers, but the more perplexing question is how the gas accumulated outside the building at a level high enough to explode.

Investigators are looking at several possibilities for the source of the ignition, including a welder's torch and static electricity.

But two experts in gas pipeline testing, Bryan Baesel and John Puskar of Combustion Safety Inc. of Cleveland, said identifying the precise ignition source is less important than understanding how enough natural gas was able to accumulate outdoors to explode.

"There could have been 1,000 ignition sources. That much natural gas is going to find an ignition source at some point," Baesel said.

Puskar said that for an outside explosion to occur, there would have had to have been a tremendous amount of escaped gas.

He said a chemical known as mercaptan is added to natural gas to give it an odor so it can be detected. But new pipes tend to absorb mercaptan, he said, causing the odor to fade. If that were the case in Middletown, he said, there could have been a large gas build-up before workers smelled it.

He also said a phenomenon known as "odor fatigue," in which nasal passages become saturated with the smell of gas over time, can make it difficult for people to continue to detect the mercaptan.

Puskar said the purging crews typically use a detector, known as a lower-explosive-limit or "LEL meter," to monitor any gas release.

Police officers heading the criminal investigation at the Kleen Energy plant seized gas detectors, gas analyzers and security cameras earlier this week.

Investigators spent a snowy Wednesday interviewing workers who were on the site when the explosion occurred, according to Middletown Deputy Fire Marshal Al Santostefano.

On-site investigation continued into late Tuesday night and could resume this morning, depending on conditions following the snowstorm, he said.

If weather conditions are appropriate today, officials plan to vent natural gas that remains in a pipeline leading to the plant from the Algonquin gas pipeline, which runs by the site. That venting will take place a distance from the building and is intended to make work at the site safe, Santostefano said.

Should the venting proceed, an announcement will be made this morning, Santostefano said. "At no time will there be danger from this," he said. "This is a very safe procedure."

Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano said a search warrant covering the explosion scene has been extended until at least Friday. He said investigators were examining dozens of tanks at the site, many of them welding tanks, with the intention of removing them as evidence. He said that many of the tanks were damaged and that their contents would have to be neutralized before they can be transported by truck.

O&G Industries, the general contractor for the construction, issued its first public statement on the blast late Wednesday.

The company offered condolences to victims, pledged cooperation with the criminal investigation and indicated that it plans to resume construction in the future.

The statement said that while O&G was the general contractor and a minority shareholder in Kleen Energy, it did not handle most of the specialized work, including the piping. The statement didn't mention who was in charge of Sunday's purging operation.

"O&G subcontracted this work to qualified companies who specialize in these areas," the statement said. "Each of these major contractors was required to have and adhere to their safety plan, as well as having a safety officer on site during the performance of their work. Safety personnel from all major contractors and O&G regularly perform safety inspections on the site."

Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 777 released a statement Wednesday saying that the union has established a fund to accept donations for their three members — Crabb, Dobratz and Chepulis — who were killed in the explosion. The union said two members remain hospitalized with injuries. It also said it will not discuss the explosion further.

Those who worked on the plant and are now unemployed and can't get their equipment can call a special phone number — 860-566-5790 — to file unemployment claims.

•Courant staff writer David Owens contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

Page last updated at
23:19 GMT, Sunday, 7 February 2010

Connecticut power plant gas explosion kills five people
Aerial view of Kleen Energy plant in Middletown (7 February 2010)
The 620MW Kleen Energy plant was due to come online in the summer 

A huge explosion has rocked a power plant in the US state of Connecticut, killing at least five people and injuring 12, the local mayor has said.

Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano said it was caused by a gas explosion.

People living up to 50km (30 miles) away reported that their homes were shaken by the blast at the Kleen Energy plant, being built outside Middletown.

There are reports of people trapped under the remains of a plant building, and a rescue operation is under way.

Search experts and specialist dog teams were at the site combing through the wreckage, the mayor said.

It really shook the house and everybody was scared and the kids started to cry
Lynn Townsend

Speaking at a news conference on Sunday evening, Mr Giuliano said that the identities of the dead had not yet been released as some of the victim's families had not yet been informed.

Mr Giuliano said the plant, which was only 95% complete and due to open fully in the summer, was undergoing a series of gas tests when the explosion occurred.

He said between 100 and 200 people worked on the massive site, and were employed by multiple contracting companies.

"How many people were here today - that's the number they can't really nail down. They were purging gas lines all night long, most people were evacuated from the building when they ran the tests," Mr Giuliano said.

The plant is located to the south of the town, on the Connecticut River.

Earlier, deputy fire marshall Al Santostefano said there were some 50 construction workers on the site at the time of the explosion.

At least 100 firefighters were sent to the scene and it had taken them an hour to contain the fire caused by the blast, he said.

Officials say there is no further danger to the public, and have not evacuated the area. The plant, however, remains cordoned off.

The nearby Middlesex Hospital told the Associated Press it had received 11 victims, while the hospital in the state capital, Hartford, has treated three others.

'Gas line test'

Mr Santostefano said a natural gas pipeline running near the plant had exploded at 1117 (1617 GMT) sending a shockwave that one local resident compared to an earthquake.


"We heard such a loud explosion and the dog was outside and I heard her bark. And then when we went outside we saw a very big explosion of bright orange flame between the two smoke stacks," Lynn Townsend told the Associated Press.

"It really shook the house and everybody was scared and the kids started to cry because they did not know if the house was going to catch fire."

Fighting through tears, plant worker Paul Venti said: "It's just horrible. All I know is I lost some union brothers. They are some close close personal friends. It's horrible. They were working. They were testing."

"I just heard there was a gas explosion and I'm getting all kinds of phone calls from union brothers. We got some people up there they got little kids that are at home and we lost them."

From the New York Post (l)...and Associated Press (c); 
Click here to view Jan. 15, 2010 report to the CT Siting Council.  And now there is the forensic analysis of how this disaster happened and why.  And how to prevent it from being replicated.

Middletown Power Plant Explosion: Focus On Worker's Torch
By JOSH KOVNER and DAVE ALTIMARI, The Hartford Courant
1:10 PM EST, February 9, 2010


Investigators are focusing on a welder's torch as the possible cause of Sunday's deadly blast at the Kleen Energy Systems power plant, sources said.

The explosion that killed five and hospitalized 27 people occurred immediately after the purging, or cleaning, of the underground natural gas pipeline that runs about 800 to 1,000 feet through the plant.

Sources familiar with the probe and with the purging operation said that welding work wasn't entirely halted during or immediately after the purging Sunday morning. That operation can result in an accumulation of natural gas that must be vented from rooms and enclosures before ignition sources, such as a welder's torch, can be safely introduced, experts said.

Fran Walters, of Florissant, Mo., wife of Chris Walters, a safety manager who died in the blast, said a police officer told her, "The building was full of gas and before they could do anything, it was too late."

Several sources said a purge was conducted Saturday without incident. The plant was 96 percent complete and was being readied for a summer opening.

Sunday's blast blew a construction trailer 40 feet into the air and was heard and felt for miles. Several sources said there were also industrial space heaters inside the otherwise heatless building.

"Why have people inside the building when doing this test?" U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney said Monday. "You're just asking for trouble."

Courtney visited the blast scene Monday, just as state personnel were preparing to remove some of the bodies from the area. He said members of trade unions who had gathered at the site were allowed to escort their fallen brothers out of the ravaged power plant."They moved in while we were getting briefed. It was such a moving scene. It hurt literally just seeing it," Courtney said.

State and Middletown police have control of the site and have a warrant to search the area and seize evidence. Courtney said officials were treating the plant as a crime scene for the purpose of limiting access to the blast area as the search for the cause and origin of the blast proceeds.

"The big thing is to be able to tell the families what the hell happened out there," said one official.

Lawyers representing the Kleen Energy plant had told state regulators in a Jan. 15 letter that the official opening of the plant, or the "commercial operation date," was Nov. 30, 2010. But the letter, by lawyers from Pullman & Comley to the Connecticut Siting Council, went on to say that project officials were estimating that the plant would be open by this summer.

New London attorney Robert Reardon, who is representing one of the injured pipefitters, said subcontractors had been working seven days a week recently to meet a late spring, early summer deadline.

"They were under tremendous pressure to get the plant finished," Reardon said Monday. "There was a rush to finish, and they were told, 'We have to get this done.'"

A separate state inquiry will focus on worker safety and other labor, training, permitting and supervision issues at the site, Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced Monday.

Deputy Middletown Fire Marshal Al Santostefano said the main investigation, being conducted by multiple city, state, and federal agencies, including the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, will explore whether other ignition sources were present during and after the purging.

"It's going to try to determine whether all electricity was shut down as a precaution, workers moved from the area — all of those issues," Santostefano said.

Inspectors with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board will be looking closely at whether the purging of natural gas contributed to the explosion. The inspectors, who are civilians, were initially barred from the scene, but Santostefano said Monday evening they are now part of the probe.

O&G Industries of Torrington is the general contractor building the plant, and principal David Oneglia is also a partner in the ownership of the plant.

In November, O&G paid a $1,000 fine for not meeting standards for recording and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses, according to OSHA records. The violation is in the least serious category of violations, an OSHA spokesman said.

William Corvo, a principal partner in the Kleen Energy project, declined Monday to answer questions about safety protocols or provide details of the purging operation.

"We're focused now on the human side," said Corvo, who was the face of the project in Middletown and in Connecticut during the seven-year process to win permits, capacity contracts and about $1 billion in financing. "We have people who were hurt, people who were killed. We're worried about the families."

Kleen Energy's natural gas line connects to the Algonquin pipeline's meter station at the base of the power plant site. The Algonquin line is part of a national gas transmission system. The utility extended its local line about 1.5 miles and constructed the meter station to accommodate the project, said Algonquin spokeswoman Toni Beck.

"We introduced natural gas to the lateral and to the meter station in November," said Beck. "Since then, Kleen Energy was taking flows as they commissioned the plant."

She declined to say how much natural gas the plant was using.

Meanwhile, Congress plans to hold a hearing on the Kleen Energy explosion.

U.S. Reps. Courntey, Rosa DeLauro, and John Larson said in a statement Monday that they have received a commitment for a hearing from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller.

They made the request after surveying the blast scene.

Courtney said it was "imperative that we review what went wrong and to make sure that all appropriate measures are put in place to prevent this type of catastrophe from happening again."

Rell on Monday said she was assembling a panel of state agencies to be chaired by Senior U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas "to identify the cause and origin of the Kleen Energy power plant explosion in Middletown on Sunday, including any potential contributing factors" such as construction problems, worker-safety issues, the adequacy of the on-site supervision, and issues of training, licensing, and permitting.

Rell said a second group of state agencies, local officials and experts will review the disaster and the findings of the Nevas-led panel and other investigations. The second panel will determine whether any changes should be made to Connecticut laws, state and local regulations or building and fire codes to protect both workers and residents living in the areas surrounding construction projects.

"Our response to the Middletown explosion must follow two distinct but critical paths," Rell said in a statement. "We must first identify what went wrong and then determine every measure we can take to prevent future catastrophes. The reviews must be thorough, impartial and swift. And if there are concrete steps we can take in the meantime, we must be equally swift in putting those new measures into place."

Courant staff writers David Owens, Daniela Altimari and Ken Gosselin contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

Kleen Energy plant's promise of lower energy costs put on hold

By Patricia Daddona Day Staff Writer
Article published Feb 9, 2010

The future of the Middletown Kleen Energy power plant, ravaged by an explosion on Sunday, is now on the shelf, and with it a promise of reduced energy costs in Connecticut.

A criminal investigation into the accident is under way, and a safety review and hearings by state officials and Congress are being sought. As those probes begin, prospects for Kleen Energy Systems LLC and its largest investor, Energy Investors Funds of Boston and San Francisco, to rebuild the plant remain unclear.

Consumers will not feel any impact from the devastating loss associated with Sunday's explosion because the plant had not yet begun to generate electricity. Moreover, the supply it is intended to provide would be largely surplus power, aimed at a market that is already projected to handle the load through mid-2011, at least.

The largest and only power plant of its type being built in Connecticut today, the 620-megawatt gas-and-oil fired generator of electricity is designed to run around the clock or when needed, said Erin O'Brien, a spokeswoman with ISO New England. It was on track to operate as soon as May, according to the Connecticut Siting Council.

As such, the plant was expected to help alleviate a longstanding energy bottleneck caused by high demand in southwestern Connecticut and even may have led to cheaper prices in Connecticut and New England, energy experts said Monday.

A megawatt produces enough electricity to power about 500 homes, said Derek Phelps, executive director of the Siting Council, which granted the plant a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need. That would mean the plant could have generated enough electricity to power about 310,000 homes.

Connecticut Light & Power had a contract with Kleen Energy to buy its electricity. The plant, which had been under construction since 2007 by O&G Industries of Torrington, was more than 95 percent complete when the explosion occurred Sunday.

"The loss or delay of this facility will have no impact on supply or the price of power for CL&P customers," which number about 1.2 million, said CL&P spokesman Mitch Gross. "We've already bought all of our power for 2010 and purchased most of our power for 2011. We've also gone out looking for 2012 (supplies) already."

The electricity the Kleen Energy plant would have provided and may yet provide would have been in excess of what is currently needed daily to power Connecticut, O'Brien said.

ISO New England is the regional manager of New England's bulk-power generation and transmission system, overseeing planning and fair administration of wholesale electricity markets to ensure reliability.

"Our projections at this time show we have some surplus (electricity) that's anticipated to be available in the mid-2011 time frame," said O'Brien. "We're assessing the long-term impact more fully."

Nonetheless, state Sen. John Fonfara, co-chair of the legislature's Energy Committee, said the plant is "very much needed" and was counted on to boost capacity on the power grid and help keep down energy prices.

Energy efficiency programs and improvements to transmission services have already helped alleviate congestion and lower consumer costs, O'Brien said, but she acknowledged that ample supplies would generally tend to reduce demand and lower prices further.

The Kleen Energy power plant was the largest of a variety of projects approved by the state Department of Public Utility Control to add capacity in the state, said DPUC spokesman Phil Dukes.
Connecticut has more than 7,900 megawatts of electricity at its disposal and about 25 percent of total capacity in all of New England, O'Brien said. To date, 30 percent is supplied by natural gas, 33 percent by oil, 26 percent by nuclear reactors, 7 percent with coal and 1 percent with hydro-electric power, she said.

The power plant was not required to be operational until November, with supplies of electricity not expected to be handled by ISO New England until June of 2011, O'Brien said.

Late Monday, the Fitch ratings service placed the loan terms for Kleen Energy Systems LLC on a negative ratings watch. "Fitch believes the accident may prevent Kleen from achieving the sponsor's originally projected completion date, and the length of the delay cannot be estimated at this time," the ratings agency said.

Energy Investors Funds said in a statement it is cooperating with authorities. EIF is the private equity fund manager that raised $985 million in financing to build the facility.

"Energy Investors Funds wishes to express our enormous sympathy and concern for the workers at the Kleen Energy plant and their families. We strongly value their contributions, efforts and dedication," the private equity group said.

An Associated Press report was used in this story.

Explosion Investigation Focusing On Safety Issues
Josh Kovner, The Hartford Courant
2:29 PM EST, February 8, 2010


Possible gaps in safety protocols at the Kleen Energy power plant are at the center of the investigation into Sunday's blast that killed five and injured 12. It occurred during the always-dangerous process of purging, or cleaning, of the underground, high-pressure natural-gas pipeline that runs about 800 to 1,000 feet through the facility.

Sources familiar with the purging operation and the construction and maintenance of the Kleen Energy pipeline reported these concerns to The Courant:

• That welding operations weren't entirely halted and other ignition sources may have been present during the purging Sunday morning;

• That the area wasn't completely cleared of workers and vehicles during the operation;

• Clutter and other safety issues at the site had delayed the purging operation for a short time and caused it to be re-scheduled to Sunday;

• That high-pressure natural gas was used to purge the pipe, as opposed to non-flammable nitrogen, which had been used for other operations at the plant;

• That the fill material covering the pipe was not compacted to a sufficient degree.

Deputy Middletown Fire Marshal Al Santostefano said the investigation -- being conducted by multiple city, state, and federal agencies, including the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board -- will focus in particular on whether there were other ignition sources present during the purging.

"It's going to try to determine whether all electricity was shut down as a precaution, workers moved from the area -- all of those issues,'' Santostefano said. He said he did not yet know what type of gas was used to purge the gas line.

Investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board will be looking closely at whether the purging of natural gas contributed to the explosion.

"Reports indicate that this may have involved gas purging,'' said spokesman Daniel Horowitz said. "This is an issue the board is very concerned about.'' The board recently issued safety recommendations concerning purging after investigating the natural-gas explosion in June 2009 at the ConAgra Slim Jim production facility in Garner, N.C., which caused four deaths, three critical life-threatening burn injuries, and other injuries that sent a total of 67 people to the hospital.

Santostefano said authorities believe many of those on the site at the time of the explosion worked for O&G Industries of Torrington, the general contractor building the plant, which was more than 95 percent complete.

In November, O&G paid a $1,000 fine for not meeting standards for recording and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses, according to OSHA records. The violation is in the least serious category of violations, an OSHA spokesman said.

The Middletown explosion is the most serious incident of its type in the country in at least a year, Horowitz said.

William Corvo, a principal partner in the Kleen Energy Project, declined this morning to answer questions about safety protocols or provide details of the purging operation.

"We're focused now on the human side,'' said Corvo, who was the face of the project in Middletown and in Connecticut during the seven-year process to win permits, capacity contracts, and about $1 billion in financing. "We have people who were hurt, people who were killed. We're worried about the families.

Kleen Energy's natural-gas line connects to the Algonquin pipeline's meter station at the base of the power-plant site. The Algonquin line is part of a national gas-transmission system. The utility extended its local line about 1.5 miles and constructed the meter station to accommodate the project, said Algonquin spokeswoman Toni Beck.

"We introduced natural gas to the lateral and to the meter station in November,'' said Beck. "Since then, Kleen Energy was taking flows as they commissioned the plant.''

She declined to say how much natural gas the plant was using.

Courant Staff Writers Daniela Altimari and Ken Gosselin contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

Cause of Middletown blast unknown
By Lee Howard
Publication: The Day
Published 02/08/2010 12:00 AM
Updated 02/08/2010 10:38 AM

Middletown - A routine cleaning procedure preceded a huge explosion and fire Sunday morning that destroyed a natural gas plant under construction here, leaving five people dead and 12 injured.

One of those killed was 58-year Raymond Dobratz of Old Saybrook, who was working as a pipefitter supervisor. He was flown by Life Star helicopter to Hartford Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Mayor Sebastian N. Giuliano said during a news conference at nearby Woodrow Wilson Middle School late Sunday afternoon that as many as 200 people had been working at different points during the day at the 620-megawatt plant. The plant, which is owned by Kleen Energy Systems, was constructed to be one of the cleanest natural gas-fired power facilities in the world.

It was unclear how many people were at the plant at the time of the explosion. Officials said Sunday night that no one was known to be missing but that firefighters would continue to comb through the destroyed building overnight in case there are any other victims.

"Something ignited the gas," said Giuliano, who felt the ground shake in downtown Middletown during the blast, which he likened to a sonic boom.

Residents as far away as Mystic reported that they felt or heard the blast.

The explosion occurred as power-plant personnel tried to clean two of the site's gas lines, said state Sen. Thomas Gaffey, D-Meriden. He said standard procedure is to reduce the number of people on site at the time of the gas-line purge, a protocol that may have reduced the casualty numbers.

Gaffey said workers on site most likely would have included pipefitters, plumbers and electricians. During the week, as many as 300 or 400 workers are on site, said Gaffey, who estimated the multimillion-dollar plant, which was scheduled for completion in the next few months, was about 95 percent finished.

The exterior of the power plant was largely destroyed, with the blast exposing the innards of the facility. No estimate was given for the damage.

"What used to be siding was hanging off like strips of ribbon," Giuliano said.

Nearby homes, he added, exhibited earthquake-like damage, such as crumbling walls, broken windows and cracks in the roofs. No one, however, had to be evacuated.

Marc Fongemie, deputy chief of operations for one of the Middletown fire departments, said the search-and-rescue operation was being extended to a range that included the farthest spot where debris was located. Police blocked off roads so no one could get to the blast site.

This isn't the first time a natural-gas explosion has occurred during a purging operation.

Just last year in Garner, N.C., three people were killed, four others were critically burned and 71 went to the hospital when a blast at a Slim Jim meat processing plant owned by ConAgra Foods occurred during a similar procedure. Another problem during a gas-purging operation occurred in 2008 at a Hilton Hotel in San Diego, injuring 14.

Both of these purging procedures were linked to venting gas indoors "without proper monitoring or safeguards," leading the U.S. Chemical Safety Board to issue a safety bulletin, according to an article in Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

Officials said it was unclear what led to Sunday's blast. A formal investigation will begin today, Deputy Fire Marshal Al Santostefano told The Associated Press.

The contractor on the project was listed as O&G Industries, a Torrington company that has been involved in many local projects, including building several schools in Waterford.

Other subcontractors were also at the Middletown plant, according to officials, creating initial confusion about how many people were on the site at the time of the blast.

Guiliano stressed that the 11:19 a.m. explosion was the result of an industrial accident, not terrorism. Officials said the names of those killed would be released after their next of kin were notified.

The Red Cross has set up a hotline for families to get information about victims at (860) 347-2577. Other agencies involved in the operation included the Department of Homeland Security, Connecticut State Police and the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration, as well as many fire departments and emergency medical responders around Connecticut.

Giuliano said he knows some victims were taken to Middlesex Hospital. Two victims were transported to Hartford Hospital.

Injuries were described as ranging from minor to potentially life-threatening.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who went to the scene, activated the Emergency Operations Center in Hartford.

"I thank the many first responders who are braving the very cold and windy conditions," Rell said.

Rell announced a temporary no-fly zone over the site of the plant explosion "because of the instability of the heavily damaged building." The flight restrictions are in effect until 5:21 p.m. today.

The Kleen Energy Systems plant, located at 1349 River Road, is on a prime piece of land on a hilltop overlooking the Connecticut River. The fire could be seen for miles around, officials said.

Numerous residents in southeastern Connecticut reported hearing the explosion and feeling their houses shake.

"I thought a tree fell on the garage," said Kathy Pagani of Ledyard. "I can't believe it was so far away for me to have felt it and heard it here in Ledyard."

Bob Walter of Colchester was in his basement doing some work at the time and thought it was a short tremor.

"We've had them out here before," he said. "But I was shocked when I heard that it was the accident in Middletown and thought to myself that was one heck of an explosion."

Kleen Energy Systems is controlled by Energy Investors Funds Group, according to a report on Bloomberg.com. The plant had a 15-year contract to provide enough electricity to Northeast Utilities to fuel about half a million homes, according to a summary of its project found online.

Algonquin Gas Transmission Co. is the gas supplier to the plant, according to Bloomberg.

Weston connection - O&G was construction manager of our school/fields $79 million plus bond issue projects
Power plant project beset by controversy

Published: 11:31 p.m., Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Middletown power plant that exploded Sunday morning, killing at least five and injuring more than a dozen people, was still under construction and already a controversial project in the region.

O&G Industries, a statewide construction company, was in charge of building the Kleen Energy plant on River Road.

A woman answering the phone early Sunday afternoon at O&G's Torrington headquarters said there was no one there to officially answer questions and that everything is "crazy right now."

The facility is listed on O&G's Web site as a 620-megawatt gas-fired power plant. That would be enough power to serve as many as 620,000 homes.

The facility's backup fuel is oil. The plant was slated to become operational this September, but a filing by the project team from January said construction was ahead of schedule and the plant could be on line in the summer. The plant itself sits near the banks of the Connecticut River.

O&G has been involved in the project since it first made its way through the local and state permitting process in 2002.

But the plant was controversial from conception mainly on environmental grounds, though some questioned the involvement of the primary developer, Philip Armetta, a politically connected businessman.

In 2006, Armetta was indicted by a federal grand jury alongside other owners of trash hauling businesses as part of the same federal investigation that involved James Galante, of Danbury.

On April 27, 2007, Armetta, then 76, pleaded guilty to one felony count of evading federal banking laws. He made multiple transactions of less than $10,000 to try to skirt mandatory reporting requirements. He was sentenced in December of that year to two months in prison and two years of probation.

While there were some grumblings in the community, going back to 2002, about Armetta's involvement, the main objections focused on environmental concerns.

There was little said about safety.

But environmentalists were concerned about spills of fuel or other discharge, especially into the Connecticut River.

One group gathered 600 names opposing the plant in 2002 because of concerns about the impact on wetlands in the area and whether it would limit access to nature trails running through the Maromas area.

Maromas is a hilly area in Middletown with several trails popular with mountain bikers and hikers.

Despite objections, the project cleared zoning, wetlands and the City Council by large majorities, though one councilman at the time, Earle V. Roberts Jr., voted against the project. Roberts had a home in the Maromas area at the time, but a number is no longer listed for him.

One of the key reasons the plant was approved by the Connecticut Siting Council in 2002 was in anticipation of providing electricity to Fairfield County via the new 345-kilovolt electricity line built by Connecticut Light & Power Co. and United Illuminating Co. That line was only being proposed at the time, but it has since been built and gone into service.

There have been several new plants approved in the state since 2002, including expansion projects in Bridgeport and Milford.

Gas blast at Conn. power plant kills at least 5
Feb. 7, 2010

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – An explosion that sounded like a sonic boom blew out walls of an unfinished power plant and set off a fire during a test of natural gas lines Sunday, killing at least five workers, injuring a dozen or more and leaving crews picking through debris for more possible victims.  At least 12 people were injured in the explosion at the Kleen Energy Systems plant in Middletown, about 20 miles south of Hartford. Crews with dogs were still searching the rubble as darkness fell over the plant, on a wooded hill along the Connecticut River.

It wasn't clear how many people, if any, were still buried. Deputy Fire Marshal Al Santostefano told The Associated Press that 50 to 60 people were in the area at the time of the explosion, but authorities said multiple contractors were working on the project, making it difficult to pinpoint how many people were missing.

"I think a majority of them did survive," Santostefano said. "Most of them did walk away."

The explosion left huge pieces of metal that once encased the plant peeling off its sides. A large swath of the structure was blackened and surrounded by debris, but the building, its roof and its two smokestacks were still standing. Rescue crews had set up several tents alongside the site.  The explosion happened around 11:15 a.m., Santostefano said. Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, who heard the blast, called it a gas explosion but said the exact cause wasn't immediately clear.

"It felt almost like a sonic boom," Giuliano said at an evening news conference.

The search was focusing in part on who was at the plant at the time of the explosion. Giuliano said 100 to 200 workers would have been there on a typical weekday.

"They're trying to figure out who was on the job today and where are they now," Giuliano said.

One of those killed was Raymond Dobratz, a 57-year-old plumber from Old Saybrook, said his son, Eric Dobratz, who called the elder man "a great dad."

The 620-megawatt plant, which was almost complete, is being built to produce energy primarily using natural gas. Santostefano said workers for the construction company, O&G Industries, were purging the gas lines, a procedure he called a "blow-down," when the explosion occurred.  The building was still standing, but the blast blew out the sheet metal that covers its sides.

Lynn Hawley, 54, of Hartland, Conn., told The Associated Press that her son, Brian Hawley, 36, is a pipefitter at the plant. He called her from his cell phone to say he was being rushed to Middlesex Hospital.

"He really couldn't say what happened to him," she said. "He was in a lot of pain, and they got him into surgery as quickly as possible."

She said he had a broken leg and was expected to survive.  Officials had not released the conditions of the other injured people by Sunday evening, although they said at least a dozen people had injuries ranging from minor to very serious.  The thundering blast shook houses for miles.

"I felt the house shake, I thought a tree fell on the house," said Middletown resident Steve Clark.

Barrett Robbins-Pianka, who lives about a mile away and has monitored the project for years, said she was running outside and heard what she called "a tremendous boom."

"I thought it might be some test or something, but it was really loud, a definite explosion," she said.

Work on the plant was 95 percent complete, the mayor said.

Kleen Energy Systems LLC began construction on it in February 2008. It had signed a capacity deal with Connecticut Light and Power for the electricity produced by the plant, which was scheduled to be completed by mid-2010.  The company is run by president and former Middletown City Council member William Corvo. A message left at Corvo's home was not immediately returned. Calls to Gordon Holk, general manager of Power Plant Management Services, which has a contract to manage the plant, weren't immediately returned.

Energy Investors Funds, a private equity fund that indirectly owns a majority share in the power plant, said it is fully cooperating with authorities investigating the explosion. In a written statement, the company offered sympathy and concern and would release more information on the explosion as it becomes available.  Plants powered by natural gas are taking on a much larger role in generating electricity for the U.S. Gas emits about half the greenhouse gases of coal-fired plants and new technology has allowed natural gas companies to begin to unlock gas supplies that could total more than 100 years at current usage levels.

Natural gas is used to make about a fifth of the nation's electricity.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell visited the scene Sunday; she earlier called out a specialized search and rescue team to help firefighters.

The state's Emergency Operations Center in Hartford also was activated, and the Department of Public Health was called to provide tents at the scene for shelter and medical triage.  Rell said the emergency teams were expected to work through the night and into Monday.  Daniel Horowitz, a spokesman with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, said the agency is mobilizing an investigation team from Colorado and hopes to have the workers on the scene Monday.

Safety board investigators have done extensive work on the issue of gas line purging since an explosion last year at a Slim Jim factory in North Carolina killed four people. They've identified other explosions caused by workers who were unsafely venting gas lines inside buildings.

The board voted last week to recommend that national and international code writers strengthen their guidelines to require outdoor venting of gas lines or an approved safety plan to do it indoors.

In February 2009, an explosion at a We Energies coal-fired power plant near Milwaukee burned six workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is still investigating.

In the past few years, an explosion at a Dominion Virginia Power coal-fired plant in Massachusetts killed three workers in November 2007, while one worker and nine others were injured at an American Electric Power plant of the same type in Beverly, Ohio, in January 2007.

Huge Conn. power plant explosion, 'mass casualties'
Last Updated: 4:12 PM, February 7, 2010
Posted: 12:51 PM, February 7, 2010

A huge explosion at a Connecticut power plant killed at least two people and caused mass casualties.

Details on the number of injuries and fatalities varied according to different reports and various officials.

Al Santostefano, Middletown Deputy Fire Marshal told NewsCore that 50 construction workers were at the Kleen Energy power plant when the explosion occurred. Santostefano confirmed that there were fatalities and injuries, but could not confirm the number of injured or dead.

He told the Hartford Courant the devastating blast occurred as workers attempted a "blow down," or purge, of natural gas pipelines. Early reports are that the cause was a gas leak.

The search and rescue efforts are ongoing, Santostefano told NewsCore. He said he did not know of any plant workers at the location during the blast. He also said people may be trapped underneath the rubble and that emergency officials were conducting search and rescue operations.

The Hartford Courant reported medical rescue personnel as saying that there were at least two fatalities, and as many as 100 people injured, including four in critical condition. The paper also reported that as many as 20 ambulances were on scene and quoted a witness as saying "there are bodies everywhere."

The Connecticut Post reported that four people were pulled from the rubble with life-threatening injuries and a source at the scene told the Post that the death toll will rise beyond two.The Post also reported a source on scene as saying that the search and rescue operation had turned into a recovery operation as state police were on scene with rescue dogs.

Local affiliate WFSB reported that 2 had died and 250 were injured in the explosion.

Viktoria Sundqvist, managing editor of the local newspaper The Register Citizen, told Sky News that she had heard a report from an emergency worker on scene that up to 34 people had died and 100 were wounded.

The power plant is not currently operation. The plant has been under construction and is not yet online. The plant's general manger Gordon Holk told WVIT that the plant is a 620 megawatt gas-fired power plant. Fire officials on scene confirmed that the plant was connected to a natural gas pipeline.

Police Sgt. Chuck Jacobucci told NewsCore there are mass casualties, but police don’t know how many people were in the building when the explosion occurred and if the people were plant employees or construction workers. Tests were being performed in the plant Sunday but Jacobucci said he did not know if gas was involved in the tests.

Most of the injured were transported to nearby Middlesex Hospital, but some have been flown by helicopter to other hospitals, Santostefano said. Two emergency helicopters, which can transport two passengers each, have made one trip to hospitals with patients and have returned to the scene, Santostefano added.

Middletown South Fire District told Fox News earlier that 100 people were working at the plant at the time of the explosion. Fox News also reported that the explosion’s impact could be felt as far away as Long Island sound.

Middletown fire commissioner David Gallitto told NewsCore that two helicopters were on scene and had transported an unknown number of injured people to nearby hospitals, Gallitto said.

Santostefano said there were multiple structures on the power plant site. He said it appears that the explosion took place in the rear of the largest building, which was entirely damaged.

Local affiliate WTNH reported on-air that a ball of fire could be seen after the explosion. The station also reported that homes near the plant have been damaged by the explosion.

HURRICANE SEASON 2009:  Always a significant factor in Weston local elections.  Most recent at the top (moving through the alphabet...)

Victims of Maine Wave Are Identified
August 25, 2009

Clio Dahyun Axilrod and her parents had joined the thousands of visitors on Sunday enthralled by the spectacular waves fueled by Hurricane Bill that were breaking off the Atlantic Coast of Acadia National Park in Maine.

But as one series of waves crashed off the rocky cliffs about 350 feet south of the popular Thunder Hole, the family, from New York City, recognized the danger, turned around and headed up a diagonal path toward the roadway.

They were about 40 feet from the main road, Ocean Drive, witnesses told a park ranger, when a 20-foot-high swell exploded into the air, sweeping Clio, 7; her father, Peter J. Axilrod, 55, and five other people out to sea. Clio’s mother, Sandra M. Kuhach, 51, was knocked to the ground and seriously injured. Officials say at least 13 people were hit by the giant wave and 16 were admitted to Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor, Me., with injuries.

Four of those who were dragged into the ocean were able to make it out on their own from the 55-degree water to safety, said a Coast Guard spokesman, Chief Petty Officer Christopher Wheeler.

About an hour after the wave carried him into the ocean, Mr. Axilrod was rescued by the Coast Guard in a 47-foot lifeboat.

A 12-year-old girl, Simone Pelletier of Belfast, Me., was also brought to safety by the Coast Guard, and taken to Mount Desert Island Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

But it took rescuers more than three hours to find Clio, whose lifeless body was located about a half-mile from shore. She died from drowning, the Maine Marine Patrol said Monday.

Her parents remained hospitalized at Eastern Maine Medical Center, a patrol spokesman said in a news release. The family lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Acadia National Park’s chief ranger, Stuart West, recounted on Monday how a sunny summer weekend day suddenly turned tragic.

Earlier Sunday, park officials had closed off the paved walkway and series of interlocking gates that led to viewing stations at Thunder Hole, an inlet with a submerged cave that is known to produce booming, plumelike waves. On Friday signs warning visitors were posted there and on Sand Beach, just to the north.

But Mr. West said that the bedrock path in the undeveloped area south of Thunder Hole was not closed. “We didn’t close off all the rock areas,” he said. “I don’t think there was a need for it. The fact that there was high surf, and the good weather, it was like a bug to a light. People were going to go no matter what.”

Ten park rangers were on duty Sunday morning, he said, with others reporting throughout the day to monitor the conditions and the park crowd, which numbered about 10,000 throughout the day.

“If you close off an area, people are going to spill into another area,” Mr. West said. “And if we keep those areas contained, and stack them full of rangers, that way we can have an immediate response, which is what happened.”

Mr. West said he did not know whether a park ranger had warned the victims and it was unclear if they had seen the warning signs in nearby areas.

Park rangers learned from the Coast Guard, Mr. West said, that the waves, about 15 feet high, were arriving at 16-second intervals, about two hours before high tide. The penultimate wave in the fatal series landed at the ankles of observers on the rocks. The one after that was unlike all the rest.

“Nature is forceful and unpredictable — and it just moves us to pay close attention to where we are,” said Mr. West, who was at Schoodic Point, another beach on the mainland part of the park, when the accident occurred. “You could tell people to step back, but they didn’t register how dangerous the waves were.”

“All I can say,” he added, “is that we do the best we can to educate the public. They are ultimately responsible for their safety and their family’s safety.”

By Monday, the number of visitors along Ocean Drive had dwindled, along with the size of the waves. The ocean near Acadia had calmed as Hurricane Bill, which had been downgraded to a tropical storm when it hit off the coast of Cape Cod late Saturday, had moved far east into the Atlantic.

Bermuda, US coast warned as Bill stays offshore

By MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press Writer
Posted on Aug 21, 7:56 AM EDT

MIAMI (AP) -- Hurricane Bill weakened slightly early Friday but still threatened to flood Bermuda's coastlines and generate dangerous waves and riptides along the eastern U.S. coast.

The Category 3 storm's maximum sustained winds lost a little strength to near 115 mph, from 125 mph late Thursday. Forecasters said the hurricane was becoming less organized but could still regain some strength. The storm was forecast to start gradually weakening Saturday.

Bill was expected to cause significant flooding along the Bermuda coastlines Friday and Saturday and Bermuda issued a tropical storm warning.

Along the eastern U.S. coast, waves of 20 feet and more offshore and rip currents at the beach are expected over one of the summer's last weekends. Forecasters warned boaters and swimmers from northeastern Florida to New England because of incoming swells as Bill passes far out to sea on a northward track for Canada's Maritime provinces...


Hurricane Bill Looms in Atlantic at Category 4
August 19, 2009Filed at 2:22 p.m. ET

MIAMI (AP) -- Hurricane Bill howled over the open Atlantic as a dangerous Category 4 storm Wednesday, and it could be energized by warmer waters as it moves north.

Forecasters said Bill should begin pushing large swells toward Bermuda and parts of the southeastern U.S. coast by the weekend, but it wasn't yet clear how close the storm will come to land.

The National Hurricane Center also said people in the Leeward Islands should keep an eye on the storm, though its core was expected to pass well to the northeast of the chain in the next 24 hours. Fishermen in Antigua were advised to dock their boats.

As strong as Bill already is, it could get stronger because it's traveling into warmer waters in the Atlantic that could intensify the storm, said senior hurricane specialist Lixion Avila.

''The warm ocean is like the fuel for car,'' Avila said Wednesday. ''If you get high octane gas you get more power -- that's what warmer water does.''

Bill was maintaining a top wind speed of 135 mph Wednesday, hours after it became a Category 4 storm, and forecasters said it could get stronger. The storm's center was located 380 miles east of the Leeward Islands -- or nearly 1,400 miles southeast of Miami -- and it was moving west-northwest near 18 mph.

The most significant threat could be to Bermuda, which the storm could pass in three or four days, forecasters said. But it also could move directly between Bermuda and the eastern coast of the U.S. without making landfall.

It was too early to tell if Bill would veer close to shore over the weekend or swing away from the East Coast of the U.S., but the five-day forecast predicted its center would pass well offshore of the North Carolina-Virginia line Saturday.

A cold front was expected to turn Bill to the northeast, but it wasn't clear when that would happen, Blake said.

C O D E    R E D    O N    T H E    W E B


What do you think CODE RED does for you as a Weston citizen?  The FAQ answered our questions!  Click above, on "FAQ"

Redoubt settles a bit but is building dome...we all know what that can mean, based upon Hollywood versions of this natural act.
AIR TRAFFIC: Ups and fedex reroute some flights to outside hubs.
Anchorage Daily News
(04/01/09 18:41:01)

Mount Redoubt continued blowing gas, steam and ash Wednesday as officials worked on plans to forestall risks to the oil tanks at the Drift River terminal, located in the volcano's shadow.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory reported continuing weak volcanic tremors and with occasional small earthquakes taking place on the stratovolcano about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage.

A continuous ash plume reaching about 14,000 feet above sea level was being pushed by easterly winds that shifted in the afternoon. No ashfall alerts were in effect, with most of the fallout taking place near the volcano.

Scientists say the volcano could continue smoldering for days or weeks before settling down. A dome appears to be forming from cooling lava in Redoubt's crater and scientists were continuing to warn explosive activity could continue.

"I would imagine we'll get some further large event," said geophysicist and field engineer Cyrus Read. "I think the likelihood is that we will in the form of a dome collapse."

The volcano has caused some significant snags for air traffic, although Wednesday passenger flights appeared to mostly be moving as scheduled. But some major cargo carriers were redirecting some of their traffic.

FedEx spokeswoman Sally Davenport said the company has cut back work hours in Anchorage but all employees are still receiving their paychecks. FedEx is still bringing cargo planes to Alaska for local shipments but most of the cargo flights to and from Asia that land in Anchorage are being routed through Oakland instead.

UPS has sent some of its Anchorage employees home without pay due to the volcanic unrest but is bringing them back in when there are packages to sort, said spokesman Michael Mangeot. UPS moved most of its international cargo flights to temporary hubs in Portland, Seattle and Honolulu but is still making deliveries to Anchorage.

Concern for the Drift River oil terminal also continued. There are 6 million gallons of oil currently stored in the river's floodplain, and four workers were on site Wednesday clearing up mud and debris, paving the way for larger crews to arrive, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Francis said.

The area got a soaking after a large eruption March 23 launched a mudslide, but a $20 million dike installed at the terminal after Redoubt's last eruption in 1989 has so far held steady in protecting the tanks and their contents from disaster.

A unified command consisting of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Coast Guard and Cook Inlet Pipeline Co. that was established over the weekend to handle the response was still developing plans for getting a tanker to the terminal dock, about a mile offshore, to unload some of the oil, Francis said.

A Tesoro tanker was being eyed for the operation and officials were trying to schedule a window for it to get there, she said.

Erupting Redoubt dumps ash in Su Valley

Alaska Daily News
By GEORGE BRYSON, gbryson@adn.com
Published: March 23rd, 2009 08:19 AM  Last Modified: March 23rd, 2009 09:13 AM

An erupting Mount Redoubt exploded again at 4:31 this morning -- its fifth and strongest discharge yet -- sending an ash cloud to new heights, the Alaska Volcano Observatory reported.  Ash has now been detected at 60,000 feet above sea level, the National Weather Service reported.  Mid-level winds are still carrying the ash plume north over the Susitna Valley, and minor ash fall has been reported in Skwentna, Willow, Trapper Creek and Talkeetna, according to the Weather Service, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and eyewitness reports.

High-elevation winds above 40,000 feet are beginning to veer toward Anchorage, but no ash is expected to fall on Alaska's largest city at this time, Bob Hopkins, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service office in Anchorage said.

"Eight miles up -- that's going to stay there," Hopkins said. "But that will affect aircraft at that altitude."

It's the lower-elevation winds -- between 10,000 and 20,000 feet, currently blowing north by northeast -- that are most likely to carry ash to the ground, Hopkins said.  In the Su Valley, the ash fall is being described as fine gray dust.

"It's coming down," Rita Jackson, 56, said early this morning at a 24-hour grocery store in Willow. She slid her fingers across the hood of her car through a dusting of ash.

She was taking a sip of coffee when she tasted something funny on her lips, Jackson told The Associated Press. It was ash. She said she then hurried home to get a motorcycle, snowmachine and vehicles under protective blue tarps.  Redoubt began erupting Sunday night, with the first explosion coming at 10:38 p.m., followed by another at 11:02 p.m., a third at 12:14 a.m. and a fourth at 1:39 a.m., the AVO reported.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport remains open, although some airlines have canceled or diverted flights. Alaska Airlines reported canceling 19 flights in and out of Anchorage because of the ash.
Elmendorf Air Force Base reported that 60 planes, including fighter jets, cargo aircraft and a 747 commercial plane, are being sheltered. The base initially ordered only essential personnel to report for duty; that was later changed to all personnel reporting at 8 a.m.

School is in session in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough.  Mount Redoubt, a 10,197-foot stratovolcano 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, last erupted during a fourth-month period in 1989-90. Its recent period of volcanic unrest began Jan. 25.

An official with the Federal Aviation Administration at the Anchorage airport early Monday said there were no immediate plans to close the airport.  The Weather Service advised people in areas of ash fall to seal windows and doors, protect electronics and cover air intakes and open water supplies as well as minimize driving.

The AVO staff also warned authorities at the Drift River Oil Terminal -- on the western shore of Cook Inlet downriver from the volcano -- that mud flows and flooding from melting glaciers might be headed their way.  Cook Inlet Pipe Line Co., which operates the terminal, said early this morning that it had begun shutting the facility down.

At a 3 a.m. press conference today, John Powers of AVO said given the hot material landing on snow, mud and snow slides could be expected and staff would check the Drift River area at first light today.

Protective dikes have been constructed at the terminal since Redoubt last erupted nearly 20 years ago.  Powers also said -- looking at the history of Redoubt eruptions -- that this event could be expected to go on for some time, even months.  The eruption has apparently disrupted transmissions from the observatory's webcam inside a hut near the volcano, AVO geophysicist Peter Cervelli said.  For two hours prior to the eruption, AVO scientists reported heightened seismicity at Redoubt and warned there could be a quick escalation to eruptive activity.

The volcano had been on orange "watch" status for most of Sunday after activity began increasing Saturday, but was changed to red after the first eruption.

Board of Selectmen, adding item to agenda on April 24, 2008, approves application for "STOCS box" grant.  This stands for "statewide tactical on-scene communication system."  MOA (memorandum of agreement) between Town of Weston and DEMHS approved.

CPR made easier: Hands on, mouth off
AMANDA CUDA acuda@ctpost.com
Article Last Updated: 04/08/2008 07:36:19 PM EDT

When Gloria Bindelglass teaches CPR, she sometimes runs into students who are reticent about conventional methods of lifesaving — namely putting their lips on those of a stranger, and breathing into said stranger's mouth.

"They say 'Eww! I don't feel comfortable doing mouth-to-mouth," said Bindelglass, a clinical nurse educator at Bridgeport Hospital.

In addition to the "ick" factor, she said, the procedure is tricky — involving alternating compressing the victim's chest with breathing into his or her mouth — and many worried that they would make a mistake.

Bindelglass urged students that, if they witnessed someone collapse from cardiac arrest, they shouldn't stand idly by. But that didn't mean they were obligated to do the dreaded mouth-to-mouth, either.

Instead, she encouraged them to just do the chest compression portion of CPR. In this procedure, all that's required is to push hard and fast on the center of the chest. And, of course, to call 911 for medical assistance.

True, it's not quite as good as mouth-to-mouth, Bindelglass said, but it's "better to do something than nothing."

The American Heart Association agrees. Last week, the association announced that chest compressions alone, or hands-only CPR, can be used to help someone who collapses from sudden cardiac arrest. Previously, the heart association emphasized full, conventional CPR as the gold standard of intervention, and recommended that bystanders only use chest compressions alone if they were unable or unwilling to provide breaths. Now, the association is revising its guidelines to put hands-only CPR on par with the conventional method in cases where someone has suddenly collapsed from cardiac arrest.

The heart association issued the statement about hands-only hoping to increase the number of bystanders who respond to cardiac arrest collapses. According to the association, about 310,000 adults in the United States die each year from sudden cardiac arrest occurring outside a hospital or emergency setting. Though receiving CPR can double or triple someone's chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest, less than one third of out-of-hospital victims receive such help.

Some in the medical community, like Bindelglass, have long seen hands-only as a good alternative. She said she's told many squeamish students "if you do nothing else, do the compressions."

Even when not alternated with breaths, the chest compressions help to pump blood to the heart and brain until medical personnel arrive to administer further treatment. Not only that, but hands-only is simpler than conventional CPR, easier to remember, and many judge it to be more sanitary.

Locally, doctors, nurses and emergency personnel agreed that hands-only is an easy, effective way to improve a person's chance of survival.

"I think it will help more people perform CPR," said Bill Shietinger, general manager of American Medical Response of Bridgeport.

Like Bindelglass, Shietinger said many people are intimidated by conventional CPR and, as a result, might just call emergency services and do nothing else. He said once people are aware they have another lifesaving option, they might be more willing to act.

"It's much easier to do the chest compressions than to have to worry about breathing into the mouth as well," he said.

Nancy Cassella, advanced cardiac life support coordinator at the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven, agreed. "[Hands-only] is simple," she said. "It's straightforward and it's not scary."

So when and how does one do hands-only CPR? Cassella said if someone collapses in front of you, the first thing you do is tap on the person's chest and shout loudly, to see if he or she responds. If the person is unresponsive, then call 911, and begin the chest compressions (at a rate of about 100 a minute) until help arrives.

Of course, conventional CPR is still the preferred method, especially since there are some instances in which hands-only isn't advised, said Dr. Frank Scifo, director of primary care development at St. Vincent's Medical Center. For instance, hands-only shouldn't be used on children, or someone whose cardiac arrest is brought on by drug overdose or a near-drowning.

Though hands-only is an effective tool, conventional CPR is still important, Scifo said. "Yes, [hands only] is better than nothing," he said. "But there is still no substitute for conventional CPR."
Will the FAA try to relate latest air delays to this issue?
Airspace coalition elects officers to oversee FAA lawsuit

By Wynne Parry
Published December 5 2007

The coalition of 14 towns aligned to fight the Federal Aviation Administration's proposal to reroute flights over Fairfield County has elected its first officers.

The Alliance for Sensible Airspace Planning announced yesterday it has elected Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi as chairman. The alliance also named Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss and Darien First Selectwoman Evonne Klein as vice chairmen.

Former New Canaan First Selectwoman Judy Neville was appointed chief operating officer...for full story click here.

Weston studies intersections
Weston FORUM
Dec. 14, 2007

Acting Weston Police Chief John Troxell and John Conte, town engineer, are assessing safety issues at two intersections — Lords Highway and School Road, and Wells Hill and Kellogg Hill roads.

At a recent meeting of the Police Commission, the town’s traffic authority, Mr. Conte recommended making the intersection of Lords Highway and School Road a three-way stop, and adding improvements to the sight line to make the intersection safer. It is heavily used at certain times of the day because the town’s schools are on School Road.

However, Amy Sanborn, a resident of Old Hyde Road, which intersects Lords Highway just east of School Road, said she was concerned about a three-way stop and suggested putting cones down the middle of School Road.

The commission voted to place a portable stop sign in the middle of School Road.

Several days after the meeting, Chief Troxell said the portable stop sign was installed as directed, but was knocked down three times in one day and had to be removed.

“We are revisiting this issue. John Conte and I have watched traffic flow through this intersection after the high school let out, and we saw that drivers had to pull way out to the edge of the intersection in order to see. The sight line has to be improved, and if we can clear a tree that is blocking the intersection, that will help. The intersection may also have to be widened,” Chief Troxell said.

Wells Hill and Kellogg Hill

Also under review is the potential placement of a stop sign at the intersection of Wells Hill and Kellogg Hill Roads.

The intersection is currently a two-way stop. Mr. Conte presented a map showing the horizontal/vertical alignment of the intersection. Because the alignments do not meet the standards for safe stopping. Mr. Conte suggested making it a three-way stop.

The commission approved the three-way stop, subject to Chief Troxell having a discussion with the homeowner of 112 Wells Hill Road about the town’s plan.

The new stop sign would be located at the end of the resident’s driveway, and the resident’s mailbox might have to be moved, Chief Troxell said.

He said he tried to notify the homeowner several times and has been unsuccessful so far.

He said there is also a question as to whether the property is located in Weston or Easton. “If the property is in Easton, Weston may not have jurisdiction. No sign has been put up yet, and we are still looking into this one,” Chief Troxell said.

Old Hyde Extension

In addition, the commission also reviewed the absence of speed limit signs on Old Hyde Extension, which is partially a dirt road. “If there are no speed limit signs posted, that means the speed limit is automatically 25 miles per hour. On Old Hyde Extension that would be way too fast,” Chief Troxell said.

He said a sharp S-curve and steep grades along the road make it hazardous at fast speeds.

The commission voted to approve the installation of several 15 mile per hour speed limit signs as well as signs saying “Unimproved Road Ahead,” and “No Thru Trucks.”

“Those signs will be installed shortly,” Chief Troxell said.

G.I.S. related news...
Town buys reverse 911 system
Greenwich TIME
By Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
Published October 13 2007

A reverse 911 system will be ready for operation in Greenwich in about a month, officials said yesterday.

The town has signed a two-year contract with Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based NTI Group to provide the service, which will allow police, fire and other town officials to share emergency information with residents quickly, First Selectman Jim Lash said.

Once operational, the town will be able to use the system to send voice, e-mail, and text messages to town residents during serious emergencies such as floodingin Old Greenwich or Riverside, as well as a range of other situations, such as heavy traffic, water main breaks or police searches for missing people or criminal suspects, Lash said.

"The point is that this gives us another way to get information to people in anticipation of problems or notify them after the fact of what they should do," Lash said.

The NTI contract, which is for $58,500, will provide the town with a system called Connect-CTY, which uses the Internet to dial and send the messages rapidly, Town Emergency Management Operations Coordinator Daniel Warzoha said.

The town will be able to specify distinct areas for any given message to be sent by using maps in the town's geographical information system, Warzoha said. That will allow efforts to be concentrated only in the areas in which they are needed.

The system also can notify specific groups of people based on factors other than geography, for example, contacting snow plow crews to mobilize for road work, Warzoha said. That will help streamline town operations. "Some of the simple beauty of the system is that instead of a highway foreman having to call out and make 25 or 30 phone calls, the system can make the calls for them," Warzoha said. "If we need contractors to cut trees down during a storm, it's just one call."

Residents who don't want to receive updates will be able to have their name removed from the company's database, Warzoha said.

In the next several weeks, NTI will begin publicizing the system to Greenwich residents, offering residents a chance to submit their e-mail, cellular phone, and other contact information. A directory of landline telephone numbers will be inputted by the company.

Currently, the town has an e-mail-based notification system for residents during emergencies, which individuals have to sign up for.

Greenwich Fire Chief Peter Siecienski said that, as Danbury fire chief, he worked with the system that became popular with residents who seemed to appreciate getting relevant and up-to-date information.

"Its obviously very good for major emergencies like heavy storm cells and we found that actually the public was very much involved and enjoyed that the town was actually caring to notify them," Siecienski said. "There is a plethora of ways which you can use that system."

Thanks to the 4 P.T.O. organizations...
P R E P A R I N G   F O R    D I S A S T E R :  4 -  P . T . O . -  S P O N S O R E D   M E E T I N G   A T    W . I . S .   C A F E T O R I U M
News:  "Shelter in Place" still the idea most favored (since 2005 similar LWV meeting).  Animals in Weston to have their own shelter (lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina) as part of an evacuation plan.  Click here "Safety & Preparedness Store" items;  for form to fill out and mail in the the Red Cross click here.

Who's who:  Either from the speakers' table, the podium or just from the floor, everyone spoke!  See if you can identify some of the principle elements of Weston's broad ranging Emergency Management effort...the big winner is:  woof, woof...

Woof!!!  Pets!!!  Above is a Yellow Labrador Retriever (according to our research a year or two ago, the most popular breed in town).  The Town of Weston is compiling the data and researching needs of pets, etc., and proper place to "kennel" 4-legged family members during disaster situation). 


WHO WAS THERE (l to r):  Executive Director of the Westport-Weston Health District Sue Jacozzi dropped in, seen speaking with First Selectman Woody Bliss before the event;  attending in the audience was Petitioning Selectman candidate Jim Maggio (flanked by Fire Department/Dispatcher Joe Abruzzi and Interim Police Chief John Troxell), followed by Democrat candidate for First Selectman Gayle Weinstein, next to First Selectman Bliss.  Panel presents - Director of Emergency Management Sgt. Mike Ferullo draws on his vast experience including Coast Guard rescue during Hurricane Katrina.   Monica Wheeler, RN, Community Health Director WWHD gave a dynamic talk (Power Point to become publication soon), backed up by the Red Cross!  Town of Weston Social Worker Charlene Chiang-Hillman at right, another vital player in the effort to protect the fragile and helpless in an emergency.


MEN (AND WOMEN--THERE ARE WOMEN ON THESE FORCES) IN WHITE:  Who would you like to see quickly in an emergency at your house?  Any of the above services!!!  At the left, Interim Police Chief John Troxell, center, representing the Fire Department point of view (volunteers), Joe Abruzzi, and EMS (volunteers) head John Weingarten (r.)

Q. AND A. - WWHD Monica Wheeler was dynamic and brought out the audience and inspired merging of speakers and listeners until almost everyone had something to contribute!
Answers from speakers - as questions came from the audience:

Web-based views of I-95 blocked for emergency workers
By Martin B. Cassidy,
Staff Writer
Article Launched: 10/27/2008 02:39:01 AM EDT

After pressing last year for the state to move faster to provide video from Interstate 95 traffic cameras to emergency workers, Fairfield County officials are holding up work on the project.

Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff said officials in the South Western Metropolitan Planning Organization have not endorsed the project. They want fire and police chiefs to review the design of the Web-based system to ensure that they will be able to verify accident information and deploy emergency workers accurately, he said.

"We've pushed to be included as part of the process and that the fire chiefs and first responders be part of the planning," said Joseloff, a member of the group.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization for Fairfield County includes officials from Stamford, Norwalk, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Westport, Wilton and Weston.  In Connecticut, the organizations must approve all transportation projects using federal funds in their regions. Fire and police officials for years have sought to tap into the state Department of Transportation's network of more than 100 traffic cameras on I-95 to help them quickly determine the right place to send firetrucks, ambulances and police cars during emergencies.

DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said 13 of the 15 planning organization's in the state approved installing the Web video system for first responders.  Transportation officials are working with the planning organizations in the remaining two geographical zones, Nursick said.  If approved, the system could be completed in a year, allowing fire and police departments to access the images through a secure Web site.

"The department has been actively and vigorously working . . . to move this important and potentially lifesaving project forward," Nursick said. "The department stands ready to move this initiative forward and will continue to diligently and urgently pursue access for first responders."

In July, Fairfield County officials sought to speed the project by turning to Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who ordered the DOT to work quickly to provide emergency responders better access to the cameras.  At the time, the DOT said it could complete the work in 18 months, which some officials said was too long.

Fire chiefs and other public safety planners in Fairfield County want to make sure the state-designed system will provide high-quality images and help them respond more accurately, said Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy, regional director for the Connecticut Region 1 Emergency Management Team.

"We have been involved in discussion and then excluded from discussions, and where it is now, I understand, is that we want participation in the system implementation and design," McCarthy said.

Without the cameras, fire departments and paramedics can be directed to the wrong stretch of highway, delaying medical treatment to victims.

"Overcommitment of fire department resources and misdirection of fire department resources to the highway are the biggest problems," McCarthy said. "It costs valuable moments but also contributes to traffic conditions on the highway when the trucks are out there."

Public safety agencies now may access images from the traffic cameras on the DOT's Web site, but the feeds are blocked during accidents.  Members of the South Central Regional Council of Governments, which represents 15 cities from Milford to Madison, is withholding approval of the project because of the economic downturn.

"It's a lot of money when we don't have sufficient funds to be doing all the roads and bridges," Wallingford Mayor William Dickinson Jr. said. "What I'd like to see is money spent on the more elemental transportation projects like those, and I have concerns about spending that money on this type of information system in this economic climate."

Rell to DOT: Provide access to I-95 cameras
By Brian Lockhart, Staff Writer
Published July 21 2007

Gov. M. Jodi Rell has directed the state Department of Transportation to give emergency responders access to the 100 traffic cameras along Interstate 95.

"I asked the DOT . . . to take every necessary step to provide access as quickly as possible," Rell said in a statement yesterday. "Images from the scene give first responders the information they need to plan next steps and take the quickest possible action."

Rell's decision follows a request by the South Western Region's Metropolitan Planning Organization, a panel of municipal leaders that must approve DOT projects in lower Fairfield County.

The group said the DOT should used the planned $40 million overhaul of the highway monitoring system as an opportunity to connect emergency responders.

The cameras were first installed in the early 1990s and emergency responders for years have pushed for live access as opposed to using the DOT's Web site.

The Web site images are not always in "real time" and sometimes blacked out for serious accidents.

Emergency personnel, including Stamford Fire Chief Robert McGrath and Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy, last week told The Advocate they need immediate access to the cameras to verify information called in during an accident and respond to the right location.

The DOT initially said providing access to emergency workers could be "cost-prohibitive" and restricted because the project is federally funded.

Those issues still have to be addressed, DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said yesterday.

"That's part of what we'll be looking at," he said. "But we're committed to making it happen."

McGrath said he was "delighted" by the news.

"We don't have the details worked out as yet, but the governor's office listened," he said. "It won't be abused, I can tell you that. It's just so we can pinpoint locations and now what equipment to send. It will decrease our response time."

McCarthy could not be reached for comment, but Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia said he is happy the DOT softened its initial opposition.

Moccia said if the state turns to municipalities to help cover any additional costs, he hoped the money might come from the federal Department of Homeland Security.

"If not we'll have to look in our own budget," he said.

Crashing by design; Emergency workers hone skills during staged mass casualty drill
Weston FORUM
Jul 18, 2007
At first glance, what appeared to be a horiffic accident involving a school bus full of kids and a tanker truck was actually a staged emergency drill orchestrated by Weston’s EMS, Police, and Fire Departments.

Those EMTs, police officers, and firemen who were not involved in drafting the scenario were only told there would be a drill sometime on Monday, July 17, but they were not given a specific time frame or made aware of the details of the scene.

At about 6:30 p.m., the stage was set, and emergency workers were dispatched to an “accident” at the intersection of Treadwell Lane and Lords Highway East.

In the mock accident, an oil truck on Treadwell Lane had attempted to make a left turn onto Lords Highway, but the turn was too wide and it veered off the travel portion of the road and “T-boned” an oncoming school bus.

Those involved in orchestrating the event wanted it to seem as realistic as possible.
The oil truck was inched forward until it almost came into contact with the side of the bus that had been pushed off the road at a 45-degree angle.


Makeup and costuming added to the realism. According to Teresa Falbo, a so-called “severely injured victim,” makeup provided by EMS took about an hour to put on. “I don’t even know what they used on my face to make it look like this,” she said.

“Some sort of stage makeup, I think.”

Each patient to-be  was given a card with his name, age, and physical symptoms.

Teresa’s card, which she had to memorize, told her that she, in addition to neck injuries, couldn’t swallow. So the EMTs carried her off the bus and laid her down on a back board and gave her a suction tube to catch saliva.

Children screamed bitterly after the “impact.” The most virulent cries — “Ow! My face!” and “Help me!” — could be heard a few hundred feet down the road.

The police were the first on the scene. They gave a brief synopsis to the firemen, who followed close behind, and EMTs, who were quick to arrive after calls were made requesting more technicians.

Fire Captain Larry Roberts was very pleased with the response time. “In the past,” he said, “our scenarios weren’t this elaborate. They were purely procedural, but this has turned out very well.”

At its peak, there were more than 60 personnel directing traffic, getting the kids off the bus and treating them. Each department worked together to achieve a common goal. The whole scene played out so well, it appeared to the unaware observer that it was either scripted or real.

Police directed traffic around the intersection and managed parking. When responding to a real emergency, “Everyone takes his own car to the site,” said Fire Chief John Pokorny. “Part of the drill is managing so many cars in one place. On any given day, there is no one at the firehouse. Dispatch coordinates who will go to the station and bring the trucks.”

The EMTs separated the victims into three categories: Red, yellow, and green.

The green — or stable — victims were taken from the bus first. They had the ability to walk and sustained only minor injuries. They were grouped together on a large red mat so that the serious and critical cases could be dealt with more effectively on another mat.

Although the 12 stable victims by definition required less attention, Nisan Eventoff, a treatment technician, would ask how they were feeling whenever he had a spare breath.

“If you feel comfortable enough,” he said to one young girl with skin abrasions on her cheek, “just stay in that position.”

The eight yellow-labeled patients, those in serious condition, shared a large, red mat with the six critical, or red, kids on the bus.

Beth Low, an EMT treating critical patients, sat next to a prostrate Michael Falbo, who looked as though he had a wooden rod protruding from the right quadrant of his abdomen. Beth pretended to give him oxygen and apologized for cutting his shirt open to get a better look at the wound. The injury to the boy might have been staged, but the ripped shirt will never be the same.
When she asked him how this happened, Mike mumbled something about a science project. After about a minute of treatment, she shouted “bleeding is controlled!” and moved on to nearby Carol Bucaro, who was made up to look as if broken bones were protruding through her left arm.

One ‘casualty’

The driver of the school bus had “died” and the driver of the truck, a diabetic, was “unconscious.” The bus driver’s body was covered with yellow plastic, while the truck driver was seen to by at least three emergency personnel at any given moment, giving him oxygen and checking his vitals.

As firemen checked under both vehicles for fluids that could ignite a fire or cause a hazardous situation, EMTs requested more personnel and oxygen tanks over their walkie-talkies.

The most critical patients were given ambulance priority and were shipped off to hospitals first. Dispatch had to coordinate with the EMTs to ensure that hospitals had enough room. However, since this was a drill, the victims were really dropped off around the corner instead of several miles away in an emergency room.

“Sometimes,” said Chief Pokorny, “hospitals don’t even have enough room for four patients, so we have to move people around.”

Mr. Eventoff, who assumed control of the EMTs on site, asked other technicians, “Westport? Wilton? — OK, Westport,” trying to determine where each patient should be transported.

“It is great local training,” Chief Pokorny said. “We’re not looking at this on a regional scale. We just want to give everyone a chance to put into practice what he’s learned over the last year.”

In addition to the two ambulances, a LifeStar helicopter was scheduled to land nearby to help  move patients from the site to nearby hospitals. However, the helicopter had to respond to a legitimate call and so was unable to make it to the drill.

“We don’t use helicopters very often. In the last 33 years I’ve worked here, we’ve only called for one of the five or six available helicopters in the area four times,” said the Fire Chief. “But when we need them, they’re great. They can go to Yale New Haven Hospital in 10 minutes, while it would take over an hour to get there by car.”


Both the chief and the captain of the Fire Department were pleased with the result of their orchestrated mass injury. “From the time the call was made to the last victim transported,” said Capt. Roberts, “the whole thing took about an hour, which is great. That includes travel time.”

Sandra Roberts, who played a witness, pointed out that everyone who responded to the drill did so voluntarily. “People are eating dinner, taking a shower; they’re in the middle of their lives when they get a call. And look how quickly they responded,” she said.

Peter Roberts, son of the fire captain, was uncomfortable with all of the face paint.

He thought that it was too realistic, so he along with his friend, Will Laplaca, and his mother were witnesses to the event rather than victims themselves.

Most of the volunteer victims were related to firemen, EMTs, or policemen.

Teresa, who played the victim with neck injuries, said she was told over dinner she had to pretend to get into a large-scale motor vehicle accident. “My first reaction was, ‘Cool! Sounds like fun!’ And it was.”

Drills like this one are done every year around the same location. Chief Pokorny explained that the roads “weren’t too narrow, there’s lots of room for parking, and people who live on Treadwell, here, don’t mind if we park on the edge of their lawn.”

Capt. Roberts said most of the learning comes from the critique after the drill; all three departments discuss what could be improved next time around.

“It’s a pretty open environment. Nobody’s scolding or being mean about it. We all know it’s about learning,” he said.

I-95 traffic cameras may help first responders
Ed Stannard and Associated Press, New Haven Register Metro Editor

A leader of a Fairfield County regional planning group believes the cameras on Interstate 95 should be used to help towns' emergency personnel assess traffic crashes.

A spokesman for the state Department of Transportation said Monday, however, that the cameras were installed to help the DOT manage traffic problems and aren't always helpful to firefighters and ambulance crews.

Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss, chairman of the South Western Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, said lower Fairfield County town officials are demanding more access to images and may oppose a $40 million state plan to replace the cameras in an upgrade.

"It's inexcusable that this traffic information is not available to first responders in the towns," Bliss said. "It needs to be an integral part of the design of the new cameras."

About 100 cameras provide state police and the DOT with views of traffic jams, accidents and other highway problems and emergencies. Feeds are monitored at DOT offices in Newington and state police Troop G in Bridgeport. They can be seen at www.ct.gov/dot.

The still images, updated every five minutes, are available to anyone with Web access.  Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy said municipal first responders need access to the images because information called in during an accident is often incorrect.  Kevin Nursick, a DOT spokesman, said Monday the project is 90 percent paid for with Federal Highway Administration money and changing their function would require the agency's approval.

"The intent of these cameras is for incident management," Nursick said. "They are designed and built and geared towards being used by DOT for that specific purpose."

He said the "bottom line" for the DOT is to "keep traffic moving and to get it moving as quickly as possible" while first responders may be looking for a direct view of an accident. "What they are interested in might not be what the DOT is interested in," Nursick said.

Judy Gott, executive director of the South Central Regional Council of Governments, composed of mayors and first selectmen from Milford to Wallingford to Madison, said the group gave its approval to the state's upgrade plan in June.  Gott said the COG's member towns are working with the DOT to improve response to highway accidents.

McCarthy and Robert McGrath, chief of Stamford Fire and Rescue, said the DOT feed is not in real time and that views of serious accidents often are blacked out.  Nursick said such blackouts are controlled by state police so the public won't see seriously injured people. It would require completely new infrastructure to give towns unblocked direct feeds, he said.

"Money is going to be a big issue, and we're going to have to talk to our federal partners" about whether money can be spent for that purpose, Nursick said.

He said the DOT does have plans to upgrade the camera images.

"We are looking at the possibility of getting an RFP (request for proposal) out by this fall to solicit service providers to essentially set up Web sites with streaming video from all our cameras," Nursick said. That would be in real time, versus periodically updated snapshots.

There are still issues to work out, however.

Rell announces FEMA aid possible
By PATRICK R. LINSEY,  Hour Staff Writer
June 15, 2007

REGION — Residents whose property was damaged in the April 15 nor'easter can apply for federal aid through procedures announced by Gov. M. Jodi Rell Thursday.

Reversing a previous decision, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Wednesday individuals will be able to seek relief for damage sustained in the record-setting storm. Previously, FEMA had approved aid only for state and municipal agencies.

"The storm that battered Connecticut in April caused some of the worst damage our state has seen in two decades," Rell said. "This is very welcome news for many people who have wondered whether they would be left to their own devices to cope with water-damaged walls, ruined carpets, and lost appliances, furniture and other goods."

Residents seeking aid should contact FEMA at (800) 621-3362. The phone lines are open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Residents can also apply for assistance on the Web at www.fema.gov.

Even residents who have already filed claims with local or state government should contact FEMA, said Wayne Sandford, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Management Agency.

"What'll happen is (FEMA will) actually send a team out to look at the damage," Sandford said.

Whether picking up the phone or logging online, Rell advised residents to have the following information handy to expedite the application process:

* your current telephone number

* your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying

* your Social Security number, if available

* a general list of damage and losses you suffered

* good directions to the property that was damaged

* if insured, your insurance policy number or the agent's and company's name

* general financial information

After the April deluge, which dropped nearly eight inches of rain on Norwalk, FEMA investigators toured Connecticut with state officials and tallied more than $43 million in damage. Of that figure, more than $31 million was attributed to private property losses.

Residents in Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London and Windham counties are eligible for individual relief. Such assistance could include temporary housing, grants and low-interest loans for home repair and loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The city of Norwalk has also put procedures for making a FEMA application on its Web site, www.norwalkct.org.

"The best thing (storm victims) can do right now is go to our Web site and read the information that I put out and now the governor's put out," said Norwalk Mayor Richard A. Moccia. "For those who don't have Internet capability, if they want to call the mayor's office we'll print it out for them and get it to them."

Moccia's office can be reached at 854-7701.

The April nor'easter shut down roads and train lines, knocked down trees and snarled power lines across the state; more than 44,000 Connecticut customers lost power.

Declaration no help for $31M in private loss
Hour Staff Writer
May 12, 2007

NORWALK — President Bush signed a major disaster declaration Friday for the record-setting nor'easter of April 15, qualifying the state and the city for federal relief.

But there's a catch.

The declaration covers state and local government for costs incurred due to the storm but not individual home and business owners whose property was damaged.

The storm brought nearly 8 inches of rain to Norwalk, flooding roads and homes in some neighborhoods. Its total, state-wide cost was estimated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at $43 million.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell thanked the president for signing the declaration, noting the storm "was unlike anything we have seen in two decades or more and its effects are still being felt."

However, Rell criticized the decision not to include state residents individually. Federal disaster relief can include payments for repairs and low-interest loans.

"Inspectors from (FEMA) counted more than $31 million in private losses from the storm," Rell said. "What these homeowners need right now is assistance in putting things right again in their own homes."

Norwalk Mayor Richard A. Moccia said the storm cost the city "several hundred thousand dollars."

"We'll put our numbers together and apply to get some aid," Moccia said. "But I'd like to see homeowners eligible to apply for some loans and hopefully get some assistance."

So would Rell, who directed the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security to appeal Bush's decision not to qualify individuals for relief.

Flooding has become a sensitive issue in Norwalk, with residents reciting horror stories at council and committee meetings over the last year.

The city has applied for federal funds to improve drainage in oft-flooded neighborhoods like Buckingham Place, Lockwood Lane and Olmstead Place. Residents on those streets say flooding has worsened in recent years as Norwalk has become more developed.

Rell said the state must take steps to prevent heavy rains from causing similar damage in the future. Norwalk has budgeted roughly $2 million in its 2007-2008 capital and operating budgets for storm-water management upgrades.

Fairfield county declared disaster
Article Last Updated: 05/12/2007 12:14:00 AM EDT

HARTFORD (AP) — President Bush on Friday has declared a disaster designation for parts of Connecticut after a powerfull nor'easter dumped as much 8 inches of rain in the state.

The disaster designation, sought by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the state's congressional delegation, makes Connecticut eligible for federal funds, helping cover some of the $43 million in expenses incurred by state and local governments and property owners from the April 15 storm.

Federal emergency management officials said major disaster declaration covered the damage and flooding done in Fairfield and Litchfield counties. Additional areas could be declared disasters after further damage assessments are completed.

Members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency arrived in the state within days of the storm to evaluate the damage.

The storm damaged 179 businesses and more than 2,400 homes statewide, state officials said. Government costs associated with the storm and its aftermath total $12 million, and private losses stand at more than $31.2 million.

The storm swamped state and local roads, flooded homes and basements, damaged bridges and interrupting rail service on Danbury Metro North line. More than 44,000 customers lost power.

Homeowners and renters could be eligible for grants and low-interest loans, and businesses could also qualify for low-interest loans.

Not an "emergency" according to Police Department website.
Cartbridge bridge replacement: A long road lies ahead

May 9, 2007

The bridge on Cartbridge Road, which was severely damaged in the recent nor’easter, is not going to be reopened anytime soon. “It may be out of service for a year or more,” said First Selectman Woody Bliss.

According to Mr. Bliss, a report from a team of engineers — including a diver who explored the bridge’s underpinnings — states the bridge cannot be repaired and must be replaced.

“One of the DOT engineers said this is the worst damaged bridge in the state,” Mr. Bliss said.

Flood waters from the Saugatuck River pummeled the bridge during the storm on April 16, causing major erosion to the bridge’s abutment supports.  The bridge had previously sustained damage in the flood of 1955, but the abutments, which were filled with stone, were not replaced at that time. Today, concrete is used for bridge abutments, Mr. Bliss said.

The cost for replacing the bridge is estimated at around $800,000, according to a flood damage reported submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by police Sgt. Patrick Daubert, the town’s emergency management director.


But a worse problem for the town may be the length of time it is going to take to replace the bridge.
“Because the bridge is in a federal flood plain, numerous permits are needed from the Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, and local authorities,” Mr. Bliss said.

“We are doing everything possible to accelerate the process, but there is a lot of extra work involved,” he said.

The town is preparing a “request for proposal” to hire an engineering firm to design the new bridge. Mr. Bliss said there could be some issues with the design because the state may require the bridge to be raised a few feet.

The closure of the Cartbridge Road bridge has also affected the replacement of the bridge on Valley Forge Road, which was slated to begin this summer. “The Valley Forge bridge is on hold. We can’t do it right now because we can’t take two bridges out of service at the same time,” Mr. Bliss said.


With Cartbridge Road closed to through traffic, some residents have noticed an increase in the number of vehicles traveling on Lyons Plain Road and other roadways in the area.

In the FEMA report, Sgt. Daubert noted the significance of the Cartbridge Road bridge as an important connector. “The bridge serves as one of three primary ways to get to the east side of town. It is a main thoroughfare used by commuters and emergency service responders to travel from the east and west sides of the town. In order for emergency service vehicles to respond, they must now travel to the extreme north or south ends of town, utilizing the Davis Hill and River Road bridges,” the report states.

William Sawch, a resident of Lyons Plain Road, said he hopes the bridge on Cartbridge Road can be repaired quickly, in a similar fashion to a highway ramp in California that was damaged in a tanker explosion. The bidding process for that project moved quickly after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared it an emergency.

“I hope our state and local government can prioritize this beyond the slow pace that appears to be unfolding. If California can replace portions of the Bay Bridge within days, one would think that committed authorities in Connecticut could address Cartbridge in less than the months and years that one hears from the bureaucrats,” Mr. Sawch said.

Flood damage report

In the FEMA report, the roads in town listed as having the most significant residential flooding from the nor’easter are Valley Forge Road, Lyons Plain Road, Cartbridge Road, River View Road, Old Orchard Road, Old Mill Road, and Slumber Corners.

Goodhill Road and Weston Road are listed as having significant flooding to business establishments.

The report also includes the town’s storm expenses. The cost for debris removal is listed at $1,740 for public works employees and $4,892 for police and emergency management personnel.  Other expenses include $121 for fill, gravel and patchwork, $1,200 for concrete barriers to protect the access to Cartbridge Road, and $1,500 for damage to parks and recreation facilities.

When added to the $800,000 estimate for the damage to the bridge on Cartbridge Road, the town’s total municipal damage claim to FEMA is $809,453.

Weston and other municipalities across the state are now waiting to see if the state will be eligible for FEMA reimbursement.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell has asked FEMA to declare a major disaster in Connecticut, which would make federal assistance available to homeowners, businesses and municipalities affected by the nor’easter.

Cheryl Kitts, spokesperson for FEMA, said there were 10 teams in Connecticut conducting the assessment through the state’s Emergency Management Department. Five teams were responsible for calculating costs of municipal damage and recovery, while the remaining teams were conducting inspections of individual property claims.

“We work with the state as far as the numbers, and the state determines if the numbers are beyond their ability,” Ms. Kitts said. The state would use the figures gathered to then appeal for federal assistance, she said, with any approved funds being sent to the state to be passed on to the local towns.

Should the state be designated as eligible for federal aid, the amount of reimbursement to Weston would depend on whether a “disaster” or an “emergency” is declared. A “disaster” makes the town eligible for a 100% reimbursement; an “emergency,” 75%.

Mr. Bliss said the town is not going to wait for FEMA funding to move forward with the Cartbridge Road project.

“We’ll apply for relief if it is available, but we need to get this process going now,” he said.

At its May 4, 2006 meeting, Board of Selectmen designates Sgt. Pat Daubert as Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security through the end of 2007.  Sgt. Ferullo now in this position.

Status Quo Won't Safely Restore Gulf Coast Communities
By Paul Farmer, FAICP
October 2006

As we embark on the second year of recovery following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we see that everything — and nothing — has changed. There are signs of progress along the Gulf Coast, much of it the result of ongoing volunteer efforts, although it is proceeding at a slower pace than we would like. We're also encouraged by announcements that planning teams will work with neighborhoods in New Orleans.

On the other hand, literally tons of debris still must be cleared away, a disheartening reminder that recovery is stalled whether because of inertia, internal debate, distrust or other reasons. We're also dismayed that questions linger about safety issues. These concerns cast a cloud over commitments to reinvest and undermine incentives for residents and businesses to return to their communities.

The current difficulties facing Gulf Coast towns and cities are stark reminders that no community in America is safe from the devastation of a natural disaster. Last November the American Planning Association, American Institute of Architects, National Trust for Historic Preservation, American Society of Civil Engineers, and American Society of Landscape Architects outlined a set of principles and an action agenda that can be used to guide Gulf Coast reconstruction.

This agenda serves not only as a foundation for restoring Gulf Coast cities and towns, but also for preventing other U.S. communities from undergoing something similar.

First and foremost, ad hoc decision making must be replaced with serious strategies that manage risk and set high standards for rebuilding. It means staffing up local governments' ability to plan, as well as protect historic buildings and process building permits, not relying on sole-source contractors or forming elite committees.

Second, reconstruction should be used as a catalyst to rebuild the regional economy. Gathering a pool of local building tradespersons, with traditional skills as well as new technologies, can help the region take the lead in reconstruction and later export services to other areas. Meeting the service and supply demands of this workforce and their families also will spur growth of small businesses.

Third, transportation and infrastructure need to support neighborhood densities and scale. We have great examples of green building and efficient infrastructure that should be showcased in the Gulf Coast. One example is the proposed light rail system for New Orleans, which would support energy efficiency and more compact urban development on higher ground that is less susceptible to future flood damage.

Fourth, there needs to be housing choice and opportunity. The mix of incomes, housing styles, shapes and streets in New Orleans' historic neighborhoods that existed before Katrina hit needs to be preserved. We're encouraged that more than $15 billion in federal Community Development Block Grants and emergency funding was approved this year to help repair and rebuild housing and undertake long-term recovery efforts. In addition, $40 million in preservation grants have been approved for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Fifth, new construction must be based on local values and design while protecting historic neighborhoods through remediation and, where feasible, repair of existing homes and other buildings. Each street and neighborhood in every Gulf Coast town and city has its own story. The pattern and scale of streets, housing, shops, parks, public buildings and gathering places are the vital elements of these stories. They work together to create the look and feel of a community and must guide preservation and rebuilding.

We don't need a one-size-fits-all approach to architecture. Restoration needs to be based on meaningful input of residents and their leaders so as to rebuild communities that are real and authentic, not pseudo imitations of what existed before. Regional pattern books can be useful if modified to meet local needs and conditions.

Sixth, the region's natural systems must be restored. Attention and funds for this task are still missing. Without sound ecological management in place, we are jeopardizing the region's long-term economic health and safety.

Adopting these measures will help us restore and preserve the unique character of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities provided they are done with assurances that the hurricane protection system has been rebuilt and residents are told about the risks of living in areas where devastating hurricanes and flooding can occur.

Congress can help by passing the federal Safe Communities Act, addressing disparities in offshore oil and gas revenues for Gulf States, and establishing the Louisiana Recovery Corporation or similar federal agency.

We should never repeat what Gulf Coast residents have and are still having to go through to get their lives and livelihoods back in order. By working together — engaged citizens and their leaders, community officials and business interests, design professionals, state governments and members of Congress — we can overcome the remaining challenges and take steps that will benefit communities throughout the country.

Paul Farmer, FAICP, is the chief executive officer of the American Planning Association. This commentary reflects the views of APA, American Institute of Architects, National Trust for Historic Preservation, American Society of Civil Engineers, and American Society of Landscape Architects.

Officials: Disaster preparedness starts with you
By JEANNE HOFF, Hour Staff Writer
June 16, 2006

WESTPORT — As the state Department of Emergency Management and federal Department of Homeland Security increasingly thrust responsibility for disaster preparedness onto municipalities, town officials say self-sufficiency can be the difference between life and death.

During a televised Citizen's Brown Bag Luncheon Wednesday, First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss, Westport Fire Chief Chris Ackley, who is also director of Westport Emergency Management, Police Chief Al Fiore, Director of the Westport Weston Health District Sue Jacozzi and others encouraged residents to be equipped to make it through the first 72 hours of a major emergency, such as an influenza outbreak, earthquake, flood or terrorist attack, on their own.

"As the state Department of Emergency Management pushes more responsibility down to the local level, it's more important for us to maintain public preparedness," Ackley said. "More and more, it's up to the individual to be prepared."

In January the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a $100 million emergency appropriation to fund state and local governments' preparedness in case of an influenza pandemic.  Connecticut is slated to receive roughly $1.3 million. Although the funds are ear-marked for disaster preparedness drills and informationals, health district medical examiner Dr. Stuart Steinman and Michele C. DeLuca of the Mid-Fairfield County Chapter of the American Red Cross said the best preparedness is self- preparedness.

A major factor in self-preparedness, Steinman said, is routine vaccination.  Across the globe, the World Health Organization reports confirmed death cases of avian influenza A have been on the rise.  In 2003 there were three reported deaths; in 2006 that number has risen to 128 confirmed deaths.  Citing cases of avian flu, Steinman said people can prevent infection by receiving basic flu shots, or a nasal flu vaccination and avian flu vaccination annually.

Health officials believe the only way avian flu can be transferred from birds to humans is if both viruses simultaneously infect the body.  DeLuca said another factor of self-preparedness is making sure there is at least one gallon of water, per day, on hand for each individual in the household.  DeLuca said the American Red Cross suggests households have 72-hour emergency kits available.

Although self-sufficiency is encouraged, Jacozzi said, the health district, which will administer flu shots in October and November, has been examining its mass distribution and mass vaccination plans since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"Since 9/11, the state Department of Public Health gave us mandates to begin preparing for bioterrorism events," she said. "We have developed a mass vaccination plan. After 9/11, we tested the plan and it works and we developed a mass dispensing plan in April."

In April the district held a Strategic National Stockpile Drill to measure how quickly antibiotics could be distributed to the 54,000 residents of Westport, Weston and Wilton in the event of a pandemic.  Jacozzi said the drill was a success, though the district is looking to "tighten up" its dispensing methods by mid-summer.

The Red Cross advises to prepare a disaster plan...
Norwich Bulletin
June 12, 2006

Assemble a disaster supplies kit

- Gather emergency supplies including: Emergency medications, nonperishable food, a non-electric can opener, bottled water (at least three gallons per day per person), a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, extra clothes, important documents, cash and credit cards, a first aid kit and other items for infants, elderly or disabled family members and pets.

- Store supplies in a waterproof, easy-to-carry container, such as a plastic tub with handles.

Prepare a personal evacuation plan

- Identify an evacuation route ahead of time; discuss with family members.
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- In case of evacuation to an American Red Cross shelter, be sure to bring the disaster supplies kit, medications, extra clothing, pillows and blankets and other hygiene and comfort supplies.
- Make advance preparations for pets so you can bring them with you when you leave, but remember, due to health department regulations, pets aren’t allowed in public shelters.

Prepare for high winds
- Measure windows and obtain shutters or cut plywood to cover each one.
- Remove diseased and damaged tree limbs well before a storm strikes.
- Strengthen garage doors with vertical support beams made from 2X4s and “L” brackets. Get professional help if needed.

Helping victims

- You can help the victims of thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need.
- Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
- Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting  http://www.redcross.org/

— Source: A
merican Red Cross

Participants, officials rate drill a success
Norwalk HOUR
FApril 20, 2006

REGION — Residents of Southwestern Fairfield County, town officials and first responders participated Wednesday in a Strategic National Stockpile Drill to measure how quickly antibiotics could be distributed to 54,000 people in a pandemic.

The exercise coordinated by the Connecticut Department of Public Health called upon 255 medical employees and hundreds of locals from Southbury down to Greenwich to voluntarily showcase their acting talents using Westport's Bedford Middle School, at 88 North Ave., as their stage.

The drill required volunteers to act out a real time scenario as if some sort of respiratory disease outbreak had spread at New York and Boston sporting events attended by thousands of Connecticut residents.

The middle school served as the Point of dispensing clinic, where those who were exposed to the disease at the sporting events had face-to-face contact with a possibly infected individual or those who wanted assistance came for medical attention.

The inaugural drill — funded through a bioterrorism grant — was one of seven drills occurring simultaneously in New Britain, Milford, Groton, Plainfield, Glastonbury and Southbury.

Sue Jacozzi, of the Westport/Weston Health District, Wilton First Selectman Bill Brennan, Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff and Selectman Shelly Kassen, along with Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss, agreed that Wednesday's trial run of the town's emergency preparedness drill would allow them to ferret out any problematic areas of the three-town mass dispensing and vaccination plan that needed to be addressed.

"We want to make sure that we have a good system in place," in case of a serious natural health emergency such as an earthquake, flood, influenza outbreak or terrorist attack, Bliss said.

New Canaan Fire Marshal Fred Baker and Westport Fire Chief Chris Ackley said other than "logistical humps," such as the time it took to set up the stations and open the facility for full patient operation, the drill ran smoothly.

The setup snafu resulted in the center welcoming patients at roughly 11:30 a.m., instead of 10 a.m. as planned.

Westport Fire Inspector Nathaniel Gibbons said regardless of the minor setback, he is now confident that had a real outbreak occurred the POD would meet its goal of swift and efficient 48-hour medicine distribution to those in need.

"We had some logistical challenges. Any event like this that requires virtually an overnight setup is going to have those challenges but we overcame them and we started a little late but ultimately medicine was delivered to those who needed it. So that's why I am optimistic that in a real event it would work fairly well."

Once patients were screened at the triage on the eastern entrance of the building, they were given yellow, green or red post-diagnosis flags, which indicated the urgency of their need for treatment.

From the triage, patients were directed to one of several stations, which included areas for express dispensing, exit review, weight calculation, dispensing, translation, first aid, pharmacist assistance and even volunteer orientation.

Baker said more than 500 households had been seen within the first hour, which surpassed their goal of slightly more than 200 households an hour.

Furthermore, 19 residents who exhibited serious symptoms were transported to area hospitals as they would have been had there been a real pandemic.

A laboratory in the Department of Public Health was said to have determined, after interviews with many patients, that the outbreak was primary pneumonic plague, but the source of the disease was not identified.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will evaluate the state's performance of the Strategic National Stockpile Drill and release how well each municipality executed the exercise in two to three months.

However, Jacozzi said a joint Bioterrorism and Planning Committee comprising officials from Westport, Weston and Wilton will judge the town's specific performance and release that information on one to two weeks.

Participants in Wednesday's event included police chiefs Al Fiore of the Westport Police Department, Tony Land of the Weston Police Department, Ed Kulhawik of the Wilton Police Department and their employees along with the local EMS, Wilton Nursing and Home Care, The American Red Cross, Sacred Heart University and Fairfield University volunteers and the men and women of the Westport Fire Department.

Tom Mahoney of the Greenwich Department of Health said prior to an emergency situation, residents should gather and keep information about their household such as weight and height of each child, date of birth, allergies and any other medically pertinent material.

Drill tests regional disaster readiness
Norwalk HOUR
April 19, 2006

REGION — Health officials will descend upon Westport today as part of the Strategic National Stockpile Drill, in which Connecticut will test its ability to distribute medicines swiftly and efficiently in the event of an emergency.

Roughly 255 officials from Southbury down to Greenwich are expected to participate in the emergency preparedness clinic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the gymnasium of Westport's Bedford Middle School, 88 North Ave., along with 300 area residents acting as patients.

The Strategic National Stockpile contains large quantities of medicines and medical supplies designed to assist the public in the event of a public health emergency such as a flood, earthquake, terrorist attack or influenza outbreak. The cache is intended to be used in instances in which local supplies run out.

Today's exercise is one of several occurring simultaneously throughout the state to familiarize residents and health agencies with their municipalities' mass dispensing and vaccination plans in case of a major disaster such as bio-terrorist attack or an outbreak of a deadly infectious disease.

"This is a significant exercise in our continued efforts to prepare for a serious national health emergency," said Gov. M. Jodi Rell. "My expectation is that Connecticut will be the best prepared state for any type of disaster or emergency."

Sue Jacozzi, director of the Westport /Weston Health District said following 9/11, her district and the Wilton Health Department began devising a method of efficient distribution of medicines to the 54,000 residents of Westport, Weston and Wilton.

"The purpose of the drill is to test the Westport, Weston and Wilton mass dispensing plan and identify weaknesses and strengths," Jacozzi said.

Bill Mooney, emergency response coordinator at the Norwalk Health Department, said department staff and retired physicians and nurses will participate in the distribution drill at Bedford Middle School. He said the drill will be based on a mock plague sparked by bio-terrorism incidents at sporting events in Boston and New York City, based on information disclosed thus far.

Wednesday will mark the first time the towns will publicly test their ability to distribute medicines effectively.

Similar health exercises, such as testing communication plans at various hospitals such as the Norwalk Hospital began April 14.

However, today, Norwalk Hospital will test its ability to receive federal stockpile medicines and treat its staff.

"We'll open our emergency operations center as well as our dispensing clinic. We'll test our ability to put staff through that clinic in timely fashion," said Lynda Nemeth, director of risk management compliance and co-director for emergency management at Norwalk Hospital. "If health care workers aren't healthy, they can't take care of the public."

Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff said Westport volunteered to serve as a point of distribution site for the drill because the town has always prided itself on its proactively in being equipped for natural or man made disasters.

The statewide exercise culminates today with the opening of seven points of distribution points: New Britain, Milford, Groton, Plainfield, Glastonbury, Westport and Southbury. Afterward, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention afterward will evaluate Connecticut's performance.

"Connecticut's planning efforts for incorporating the national stockpile to address a health disaster have received excellent reviews," Rell said. "Now we want to put those written plans into action to determine what further refinements are needed."

State Developing Radio Device To Link Emergency Disaster Workers
New London DAY
Published on 1/9/2006

By this summer, an invention by six emergency officials from across the state could enable their colleagues from different towns and agencies to communicate over previously incompatible radio systems at the scene of a disaster.

The inability to talk across systems has been one of the major obstacles Homeland Security officials have been trying to overcome ever since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.  Dubbed STOC, for “on-Scene Tactical Operations Channel,” the device is a combined receiver and radio in a box that can take a message transmitted on one radio bandwidth and send it clearly and without interference to a different bandwidth, said Wayne Sandford, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

The state has set aside $2.1 million in Homeland Security funding for the device, and has already obtained licenses from the Federal Communications Commission, Sandford said.

Federal, state and local public safety agencies currently use many different types of portable radios that operate on different bandwidths. Those bandwidths — of 150, 400 or 800 megahertz — carry different amounts of information and can transmit only to a radio using the same bandwidth, Sandford said.

Police and fire officers carrying different types of radios often cannot talk to one another at the scene of a disaster like the InterRoyal mill fire in Plainfield in April or the Monsanto fire in Stonington three years ago — both of which required mutual aid from neighboring towns.

Now, the all-volunteer Interoperable Communications Workgroup, led by Chairman Michael Varney, a fire chief in Ellington, has created a device that can incorporate five frequencies into the three different bandwidths. Varney is also an analyst in the state Department of Information Technology.

Using parallel frequencies, a firefighter on a 150-MHz band radio can send a message to a radio using a different bandwidth and be heard, Varney and Sandford said.

What the STOC device will do, said Varney, is “add capacity to existing radio systems and increase the number of agencies that can talk to one another. This adds at least three different talking groups per incident at basically no cost to the municipalities. This capability doesn't exist today.”

By connecting public safety workers in the field, Varney said, STOC “increases coordination, prevents delays, allows workers to get help faster, and the incident runs safer. Knowing people can talk directly to one another, there's no miscommunication. Communication is immediate.”

For instance, if traffic were being redirected following a major oil spill on the Gold Star Memorial Bridge over the Thames River, said Nicholas DeLia, the fire chief in Groton City, STOC could take a message from a radio in the hands of a Groton police officer and transmit it to a radio used by a New London police officer.

“This is for the ground-level guys,” said DeLia, who is involved in emergency planning in southeastern Connecticut, “the guys that are shooting the foam, controlling the traffic.”

Sandford said, “The beauty of the device is, we don't have to buy more radios, because (emergency officials on scene) use the radios they already have. All they have to do is program the new frequencies into their radios.”

The state's new device could become a model for the rest of the country, Sandford said.

“We're the first state in the nation that the FCC has even heard from” on this subject, he said. “If it works, and we think it will, the FCC is going to promote this across the country.”

Last year, the state bought I-CALL/I-TAC radios for every town in the state. Like STOC, the I-TAC allows direct communication, but special radios had to be purchased and can only be used by commanders, not emergency workers at the scene, state officials said.

The consequences of having firefighters, police and ambulance workers on the scene who cannot talk directly to one another are profound, and dangerous, as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks made all too clear, local emergency experts say.

Roger D. Sylvestre, chief of fire and emergency services for the Mashantucket Pequots and a local leader in emergency planning for southeastern Connecticut, said the state committee's invention could prove critical in months to come.

“That's a really good deal if they can pull that off,” he said. “What you wouldn't have happen is what happened at the World Trade Center, where police knew something that firefighters didn't know. The police could see into the building, that the structure was starting to fail, but there was no method to communicate that readily to the firemen,” who were trapped inside.

The device works only on portable, 3- to 5-watt radios. Using low-powered radios within a quarter of a mile of one another prevents interference, Sandford said.  The devices could not be used to link all fire, police and emergency medical officials at once, Varney added. In fact, that would not be desirable, he said.

“You don't want too many people on one channel. Then there's not enough air time,” he said.

Varney's committee members developed the idea for STOC from continuous conversations about improvising techniques, Varney said. They then built a model and demonstrated it could work. The state has issued an informational request for proposals, and once it gets a workable prototype, will put the concept out to bid, Sandford said.

“I don't know that one person (on the committee) had that ‘aha!' moment,” said Varney. “It happened over time, came out of a lot of conversations.”

The STOC device may eventually be used to link municipal emergency workers to private security forces like those from Pfizer or Electric Boat, Sylvestre said, and could help coordinate experts from various agencies into a single team when special expertise is needed.

If development goes as planned, STOC devices could be in the hands of local officials within six months, Sandford said. The state will have to see how much a single device costs and then try to distribute them equally across the state, so that all towns in all five of the state's emergency zones have access to them, he said.

“Ideally, it would be nice to be able to have one of these in each municipality,” said Varney.

ABOUT TOWN—November 17, 2005
(Suggested title: “Emergency”)

“Emergency!  Everyone to get from street!”  This is one of my favorite lines from the movies.  Alan Arkin, playing a Soviet submarine officer, barked out this order in “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming!”

At a League of Women Voters of Weston event on emergency preparedness, at Weston Library last Saturday, that is basically what we were told to do!

All invited speakers had a similar message.  We were told about how to remain “in-place.”   The “in-place” option works for Westonites.  Instead of clogging local and state roads in an attempt to “evacuate” during natural disasters, we should prepare for being independent of modern conveniences for 72 hours.

The American Red Cross spoke of the need to be prepared.  What does that mean?  What items should all Westonites make sure to have on hand in an emergency?  What are some tips on survival “in-place?”  Go to the Internet:  www.redcross.org.

The Westport-Weston Health District took the lead in answering questions about myriad health threats.  This included discussion of possible global pandemics.  

Weston’s emergency management coordinator had a confidence-inspiring “take charge” approach.  Having returned from duty in New Orleans he is up to date.  He knows the need for and the “how to’s” of coordinated emergency management.
First Selectman Woody Bliss moderated, and he was a vital source of information.  One statistic he offered was sobering.  It is necessary to maintain a 43 mile per hour speed to keep traffic flowing on both I-95 and the Merritt Parkway.  Evacuation scenarios via those two arteries beggar the imagination.  Since both highways are at a standstill in the mornings anyway, we may need another plan! 

The message I took away from this vital League meeting was simple.  Each of us can do something to protect ourselves and the community from disasters.  Our regional health district is a good place to turn.  For more information on-line:  www.wwhd.org or telephone 227-9571.

Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan

There is a bureaucratic version of the Boy Scout by-word.  Instead of “be prepared” the professionals call it something else.  “Pre-Disaster Mitigation” is the title.  The Plan for our eight-town Region, approved at the beginning of 2005 by the South Western Regional Planning Agency (www.swrpa.org), says a few things we can all try to remember.

First, the shoreline communities potentially experience the most and the most severe incidents.  Where does Weston rank?  Count the number of pages in the Plan devoted to descriptions of what town departments do and hope to be able to do.  Three communities are brief.  Weston, Wilton and New Canaan lie inland.  Their “pre-disaster mitigation plans” are each four pages long.

Westport and Greenwich are two communities that have a great deal to say on this subject.  Their responses were, respectively, 23 and 13 pages long.  Stamford, Darien and Norwalk, shoreline towns as well, were not quite as wordy.

SWRPA prepared this document in advance of the creation of a new State Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.  The DEMHS established five areas of regional cooperation for emergency planning purposes.

“One Coast, One Region” is the way Congressman Christopher Shays identifies cooperation among Stamford, Norwalk and Bridgeport in economic development.  Emergency planning will now be coordinated along these same lines!

Florence Strengthens Into Hurricane
Hartford Courant
By ELIZABETH ROBERTS, Associated Press Writer
8:35 AM EDT, September 10, 2006

HAMILTON, Bermuda -- Florence intensified into the second hurricane of the Atlantic season Sunday as it headed for Bermuda, where residents installed storm shutters and hauled their yachts onto beaches.

Florence was expected to reach the tiny British territory Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. But was too early to tell whether it will make a direct hit.

The storm was a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 80 mph with higher gusts. Florence was expected to become a Category 2 hurricane as it passes Bermuda, the hurricane center said.

The storm was expected to veer away from the U.S. coast as it turns north toward Bermuda, but forecasters said its large size could also create high surf and rip currents along parts of the eastern seaboard.

"Those waves will affect a good portion of the U.S. East Coast from basically Florida all the way up to the Cape Cod area" starting Sunday through the early part of next week, hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said. "When those large swells come rolling in to the coastline they tend to produce dangerous and potentially deadly rip currents."

Bermuda issued a hurricane warning. The government urged its 65,000 residents to take precautions and volunteers were mobilized. The hurricane center said tropical storm force winds could hit the North Atlantic Island by Sunday afternoon.

"We are asking residents to please stay home. We are urging the public's cooperation so that emergency vehicles will have free passage on the roads," Derrick Burgess, minister of public safety, said at a news conference. "Also, we are discouraging the public from sightseeing as this puts everyone at risk."

He also encouraged the public to stock up on hurricane supplies and secure their homes, lawn furniture and any other loose items which could be affected by high winds.

At 8 a.m. EDT, the center of the hurricane was about 305 miles south-southwest of Bermuda and was moving toward the north-northwest near 15 mph.

The hurricane center said Bermuda was expected to get 5 to 8 inches of rain, with up to 10 inches possible in some areas.

In boatyards and marinas in Bermuda -- a wealthy island chain 640 miles east of the U.S. coast -- boat owners dragged their yachts onto beaches or secured their moorings.

At Pitts Bay marina, Bermudian Alan Hughes moved his 17-foot Boston Whaler away from the dock wall and tied it down.

"We are obviously concerned and cautious. It will be a tidal issue, with up to five or six foot tidal swells," he said.

At the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, the hotel distributed a disaster plan -- which included provisions for evacuation -- and told guests that patio furniture would be removed from their rooms.

Roy Riggio, a 72-year-old volunteer counselor with Medicare from New Canaan, Conn., said he and his wife, Barbara, arrived in Bermuda on Friday.

As other guests at the Fairmont were leaving, Riggio said he didn't believe the hurricane would deter him and his wife and he wanted a "window seat" at the hotel's restaurant on Sunday night to watch the storm.

"If not, I'm going to take pictures from my room -- I have a room up at the top of the hotel -- and I want to get some photos. I'm not a glutton for punishment, but it's exciting," he said.

Authorities said they were closing the island's only airport, Bermuda International Airport. Flights from New York and Miami scheduled to arrive late Saturday have been canceled.

Ferries stopped running Saturday afternoon and bus service was to end Sunday at 1 p.m.. Authorities have opened a shelter in the island's center, and the public utility has warned there may be power outages due to the high winds.

Public schools and government offices will be closed Monday.

Acting Police Commissioner Roseanda Young said arrangements have been made for tourists to leave after the airport shuts down, with commercial airlines and private jets helping out.

"All tourists have been given the opportunity to leave. Those still here have chosen to stay," she said.

Large ocean swells were affecting Bermuda and the northern coasts of the Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the hurricane center said.

Bermuda requires newly built houses to withstand sustained winds of 110 mph. It also has a sturdy infrastructure with many of its power and phone lines underground.

Hurricane Fabian killed four people when it struck in 2003 as the strongest storm to hit Bermuda in 50 years. Fabian, a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds, tore the roofs off several homes and left many of Bermuda's famed golf courses in ruins.

Florence follows on the heels of Tropical Storm Ernesto, which was briefly the season's first hurricane before weakening and drenching the East Coast last week. The storm was blamed for nine deaths in the United States and two in Haiti.

Remember Three  Mile Island?
Pipe Leak at Nuclear Plant Raises Concerns - seen any good, old movies lately?

May 2, 2009

WASHINGTON — The discovery of water flowing across the floor of a building at the Indian Point 2 nuclear plant in Buchanan, N.Y., traced to a leak in a buried pipe, is stirring concern about the plant’s underground pipes and those of other aging reactors across the country.

A one-and-a-half-inch hole caused by corrosion allowed about 100,000 gallons of water to escape from the main system that keeps the reactor cool immediately after any shutdown, according to nuclear experts. The leak was discovered on Feb. 16, according to the plant’s owner, Entergy Nuclear Northeast, a subsidiary of the Entergy Corporation.

Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission emphasized that the Indian Point reactor could still have been shut down safely with either of two other backup systems, although operators generally avoid using both.

They also stressed that the supply pipe was quickly repaired after the leak was found and that the water itself, which is cleaner than tap water, posed no environmental threat. Yet the leak’s discovery has prompted Entergy and the regulatory commission to begin studying how the chief system for cooling during shutdowns, so important that the Indian Point 2 has three pumps in place to do the same job, could be endangered by the failure of a single part.

More broadly, it has raised concerns about the monitoring of decades-old buried pipes at the nation’s nuclear plants, many of which are applying for renewal of their operating licenses. Indian Point 2, whose 40-year operating license expires in 2013, already faces harsh criticism from New York State and county officials who want it shut down.

This week Representative Edward J. Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads a House subcommittee on energy and the environment, said the leak raised serious questions about Entergy’s and the regulatory commission’s oversight.

“This leak may demonstrate a systemic failure of the licensee and the commission to inspect critical buried pipes in a manner sufficient to guarantee the public health and safety,” he wrote to the commission’s chairman, Dale Klein in a letter on Thursday. The letter was also signed by Representative John J. Hall, whose district includes the plant. The congressmen said they were “shocked” that a leak that big could develop without detection and called the system for detecting such problems “profoundly inadequate.”

One argument raised by New York State in opposing extension of the license of Indian Point 2 or the adjacent Indian Point 3 reactor is that crucial components are aging in ways that the operators may not anticipate or understand.

The supply pipe at issue, measuring eight inches in diameter, is used to fill a 600,000-gallon tank that is used whenever the plant “trips,” or shuts down because of an equipment malfunction. Such shutdowns are not unusual; one occurred on April 3, roughly a month after the pipe was fixed.

James F. Steets, a spokesman for Indian Point, said it was unclear when the leak began. The company initially said the pipe was losing 18 gallons a minute but later amended that to 12; either number is small relative to the 600,000-gallon tank, he said.

Mr. Steets said that the water level in the tank offered no clue that the supply pipe was leaking. The tank has an alarm to indicate its water level is falling, he said, but it did not sound because an automatic system was topping off the tank with purified water.

At a nuclear plant, a central water system takes heat from the reactor in the form of steam and turns it into electricity. During a shutdown at Indian Point 2, that system often turns off and a pipe measuring 12 inches in diameter carries water from the tank into the cooling system to carry off excess heat.

The buried portion of neither the 8-inch supply pipe nor the 12-inch pipe connecting the tank to the reactor cooling system has been visually inspected since the reactor began operating in August, 1973, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nor does the commission require such inspections.

Paul Blanch, an electrical engineer and nuclear safety expert who worked at Indian Point in 2001 and 2002, said that because neither pipe has been inspected, except for a short section that was replaced when the hole was located in February, “they shouldn’t be operating right now.”

He said the plant could be operating with a backup system that is ready to fail.

Mel Gray, a branch chief at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who oversees inspections at Indian Point, confirmed in a telephone interview that inspectors “have not dug up and laid eyes visually” on the pipes. But he said that experts routinely conduct “surveillance tests,” measuring the tank level and the flow through the pumps that direct water from the tank to the reactor.

“If you had a gross leak, you’d detect its going somewhere else,” he said, referring, for example, to a leak large enough to drain the tank quickly.

Mr. Gray acknowledged that the 12-inch line that delivers water from the 600,000 gallon tank during a shutdown might be rusted in places, too, but he said it was unlikely to fail suddenly when called upon. But Mr. Blanch warned that if gravel or dirt leaked into the 12-inch supply pipe when the pumps started up, that could make them shut down.

Mr. Steets of Entergy said that if the tank were disabled, a tank filled from Buchanan’s municipal water system could be used to deliver water during a shutdown.

But Mr. Blanch and the letter from the two congressmen faulted the system that relies on city water.

Plant operators dislike using such water because city tap water is not as clean as reactor water. And critics point out that the system is not safety-rated, meaning it is not certified to work in adverse conditions like blackouts and earthquakes and is not maintained as carefully.

Another potential solution proposed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission involves using the reactor’s emergency core cooling system during a shutdown. But cooling water can only be inserted after reducing the pressure in the reactor, which causes the water to boil. Letting the water boil can lead to core damage.

Buried pipes are emerging as an endemic problem as reactors age, although so far most of the attention has been to the substance that is leaked — not a pipe’s role in ensuring the reactor’s safe operation over all.

Reactor water includes tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen that can occur naturally but is also made in reactors. Leaks of water with tritium have been discovered in underground piping at the Byron, Braidwood and Dresden twin-reactor plants in Illinois, and at a three-unit plant in New Mexico, Palo Verde. Indian Point also leaked water with tritium from its spent fuel pool in 2005.

While experts at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in interviews that additional pipe leaks like the one found in February would not pose a big challenge to reactor operators, they acknowledged that it was something new.

“We were not aware of a problem before with underground pipe,” Mr. Gray said. “Now that we have one, it’s got our focused attention.”

“We’re not done,” he said.

Earthplace to release health report on reactor
By Patrick McNamee,
Special Correspondent
Article Launched: 05/12/2008 01:00:00 AM EDT

Fairfield County may be nearly 50 miles from Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y., but one group thinks that may not be far enough.

The Radiation and Public Health Project is launching a campaign to educate residents about possible dangers and plans a news conference for tomorrow at Earthplace in Westport to discuss findings of its latest health report.

The plant has been a source of controversy since it opened in 1974. Entergy, which owns and operates it, has requested 20-year license extensions for its two water-pressurized reactors that would allow one to operate until 2033 and the other until 2035. A decision is expected next year.

Joseph Mangano, a member of the Radiation and Public Health Project, said the plant has caused health damage.

"There is a considerable body of evidence that nuclear reactors have harmed residents from radioactive chemicals that are routinely released in low doses from the reactors," Mangano said. "Our campaign is to inform the public that there are health risks."

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has set up Emergency Planning Zones that cover areas within 10 miles of a plant and a 50-mile radius, which encompasses Fairfield County.

In an accident or meltdown, towns within 10 miles would have to shelter and evacuate people and distribute potassium iodide pills to counter the effects of radiation poisoning. Within 50 miles, radiation would affect crops and reservoirs, so some food and water would be banned.

"There is nothing special about those 10 miles. It's not like there is a magic lead wall," Mangano said. "We know that radioactivity can travel hundreds of miles."
In an accident, radioactivity would be carried downwind and could reach Fairfield County within two hours, he said. But even without a meltdown, radiation can be in the air, reservoirs and food supply, he said.

Scott Burnell, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said studies done by Entergy and the New York Department of Environmental Quality, have shown no effect on people that live near the plant.

"Once you get into the distance between Indian Point and Connecticut, there is no information to show there is any danger," Burnell said.

Emergency preparedness plans are reviewed routinely and protect people, he said.

"Once outside the 10 miles, based on information available to the NRC, anything that could happen is unlikely to have an immediate impact," Burnell said. "Certainly, there could be an effect on farms and water supply up to 50 miles, but we feel the plans in place are sufficient."

Tomorrow, the Radiation and Public Health Project will release the findings of The Tooth Fairy Project, in which they studied the level of Strontium-90, a radioactive isotope, in baby teeth. They also will discuss research on death rates for children and adolescents from cancer.

"We're not trying to instill fear in people, but to keep them informed of the dangers, and this is only one type of chemical and danger in the air," Mangano said.

Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said the group is scaring people.

"This group is not a credible health agency, just a group with some widely criticized health studies," Steets said. "I don't know their point except to scare people into thinking there is some correlation between health problems and Indian Point, which has not been proven."

Leaders are reserving judgment.

"We would be concerned and would hope to learn more about safeguards that are in place for the surrounding population," Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei said. "I am certainly pleased, however, that there are people scrutinizing and looking into the information so that we can learn more."

Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy had similar feelings.

"I think on issues like this, we follow the lead of our attorney general," Malloy said. "We've gone through phases of this before where we wanted to have (potassium iodide) tablets. It's important because it is built in a densely populated area."

Mangano said he is not an energy analyst but he wants residents to consider the findings before the decision is made on renewing Indian Point's license.

"We would encourage citizens and leaders to use this information in the debates about license extensions," he said. "This is an opportunity to become involved in the public process."

Easton man's drug case continued
Article Last Updated: 06/03/2008 10:38:34 AM EDT

BRIDGEPORT — The drug case against an Easton man, whose home was the target of a police raid last month that led to a visitor's death, was continued today until later in the month.
Ronald Terebesi, whose Dogwood Drive home was raided May 18 by a heavily armed police team, appeared briefly this morning in Superior Court on Golden Hill Street.

He faces charges of possessing narcotics and drug paraphernalia, which were lodged several days after the raid during which Gonzalo Guizan, 33, of Norwalk was fatally shot by officers.

Terebesi's case was continued to June 19 at the request of his lawyer, Edward Murname, to allow the defense time for further investigation.

The continuance was granted by Judge Matthew Frechette.

Terebesi and his lawyer had no comment as they left the courtroom.

The raid and Guizan's death remain under investigation by State Police and the State's Attorney's office.

A lawyer for Guizan's family has indicated they are considering filing suit against authorities.

Easton resident in raid faces drug charges
Article Last Updated: 05/24/2008 11:50:21 PM EDT

EASTON — Ronald A. Terebesi Jr. — whose home was raided by police last Sunday, during which they fatally shot a guest at the house — was arrested on drug charges Saturday afternoon.

Terebesi, 42, of 91 Dogwood Drive, is charged with possession of narcotics, a felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He turned himself in at the police station at 12:30 p.m. and was released on $10,000 bond, police said. The warrant was issued Friday, police said.

He couldn't be reached for comment on Saturday.

Police and members of the Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team had raided the home about 2:30 p.m. last Sunday, seizing two small clear glass smoking pipes and crack cocaine in a tin box.

But officers entering the home were allegedly confronted by Gonzalo Guizan, 33, of Norwalk, whom they shot to death.

The two officers involved in the shooting have been identified as Brian Weir, who has eight years of experience on the Trumbull Police Department, and Michael Sweeney, who has seven years of experience on the Monroe Police Department.

The State Police and the State's Attorney's Office are investigating the shooting to determine if it was justified.

Less than two weeks before the raid, the home's doors and windows were riddled by gunfire during a mysterious drive-by attack.

Also, Terebesi had a loaded .357-caliber Magnum handgun when emergency medical personnel were dispatched to a call at his house in March. And while police had taken the gun from him, authorities feared he might have acquired another loaded weapon before the raid, prompting Easton Police Chief John Solomon to take precautions for officers' safety.

No guns were found in the house, sources have said.

Easton police said that evidence obtained in the Sunday raid was field tested by state police; the test proved positive for narcotic substances, police said.

Terebesi is slated to appear June 3 in Bridgeport Superior Court.

No guns found in raid that killed Norwalk resident
By Daniel Tepfer
Article Launched: 05/20/2008 01:00:00 AM EDT

EASTON - The Dogwood Drive home where a Norwalk man was killed during a police raid Sunday was the target of neighborhood complaints about loud parties and cars coming and going late into the night.

And less than two weeks before the raid that also caused minor injuries to homeowner Ronald Terebesi and two police officers, the home's doors and windows were riddled by gunfire during a mysterious drive-by attack.  Terebesi, 42, had a loaded .357-caliber Magnum handgun when emergency medical personnel were dispatched to his house in March.  And while police had taken the gun from him, authorities feared he might have another loaded weapon Sunday.

So Police Chief John Solomon felt he had sufficient evidence to call out the troops when his officers, joined by the Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team, set out to execute a search warrant at the house shortly before 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Officers on the raid, some wearing bulletproof vests, armored helmets and camouflage, surrounded the small gray house. They launched concussion grenades into the dwelling to disorient the people inside with bursts of noise and light.  The raid turned violent when the lead officers burst into the house and, according to the police report, were confronted by Terebesi and Gonzalo Guizan, a 33-year-old Norwalk resident.

Guizan allegedly charged the officers and "physically encountered two of the police officers," according to the report.

The two officers - one of whom apparently shot Guizan - were identified as Brian Weir, an eight-year veteran of the Trumbull Police Department, and Michael Sweeney, a seven-year veteran of the Monroe Police Department.  Guizan, of 79 East Ave., Norwalk, was taken to St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, where he was pronounced dead.  State police investigating the shooting yesterday would not identify the officer who fired the fatal shots.  The officers and Terebesi also were taken to St. Vincent's Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries and later released.

Terebesi was not arrested Sunday, although investigators returned to the house Monday to continue their search under authority of the warrant.  However, police apparently did not find any guns in the house during a search after the raid.  State Police are continuing to investigate the shooting and will present their findings to State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict. He will make the determination if the evidence justifies the fatal shooting of Guizan.

Terebesi's lawyer, Gary Mastronardi, contended yesterday that neither his client nor Guizan was doing anything wrong when the raid was carried out.

"The whole thing stinks to high heaven, and we will be taking a closer look at it," he said.

"Here you had two guys simply watching television when police throw in grenades, and then come right through the door," Mastronardi said.

He said the two men had met at the home Sunday afternoon to discuss setting up a local employment agency.

Guizan was scheduled to appear in state Superior Court in Norwalk on Aug. 28 to face drunken-driving and drug charges. He was pulled over by Norwalk police June 6 and charged with driving under the influence. A search of the vehicle turned up a multi-colored glass pipe with narcotics residue, according to police.  He faced additional charges of narcotics possession and use of drug paraphernalia.  Court records show Guizan had no previous criminal record.

Terebesi also has no prior criminal record. Last month, however, he was charged with three counts of use and possession of drug paraphernalia.  That charge was lodged after an incident early March 31, when Easton EMS and police were dispatched to Terebesi's home in response to a call that a man was having a seizure, according to court records.

When personnel arrived, they said they found Terebesi appeared to have passed out on his living room couch. He looked as though he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and gave police permission to search the home, according to the records.  Police said they found pipe stems, commonly used to smoke crack cocaine, under Terebesi's body, along with a loaded .357-caliber Magnum handgun. Police seized the gun.

The drug paraphernalia charges were filed against him in April.

The police team that staged Sunday's raid, made up of officers from the local departments in region, had encountered controversy before. Last September, the squad shot Stratford resident John Bell in the arm during a raid of a Bridgeport gas station, where they suspected an illegal gambling operation was based. Officers said Bell fired at them first, and they returned fire.  The case is pending in federal court.

Residents on Terebesi's street remained awe-struck yesterday at the series of events that disturbed their peaceful neighborhood.

"I'm not very happy it's happening here. It's scary, people being shot," said Fred Beitman, of Pond Road, who lives next door. "I have no control over what happens in other people's houses."

Drew Clark, who lives across the street on Dogwood Drive, said, "Yesterday, my wife and I heard a large crash and an explosion, followed by five or six shots. We saw smoke coming out of the house.

"We came here to live to enjoy peace and quiet," he said. "Now, we hear boom, boom, boom."

Clark said he and his wife, Sheila, were shocked to see police officers in tactical gear when they walked down to the scene to find out what happened.  Fred Mauer, who lives up the street on Dogwood Drive, said he was returning home on bicycle when he encountered the police SWAT team and saw "someone getting loaded into an ambulance."

Norwalk man ID'd in Easton shooting
Article Last Updated: 05/19/2008 02:17:19 PM EDT

EASTON — A 33-year-old Norwalk man has been identified today as the man fatally shot during a police raid on a Dogwood Drive yesterday.
Gonzalo Guizan, of 79 East Ave., apartment 7, Norwalk, was killed during a confrontation with officers trying to execute a search-and-seizure warrant at 91 Dogwood Drive shortly before 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

While state officials continue to investigate incident, sources indicate that no guns were found in the home.

Ronald Terebesi, 42, the home's resident, was apparently injured during the raid, although sources say he was not shot. His condition today is not immediately known.

The squad of Easton officers and the Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team battered its way into the Dogwood Drive house just before 2:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

Before the team entered, it apparently launched "flash bags" into the house that set off loud noises to distract and confuse the home's occupants.

When officers entered the house, according to State Police, they were confronted by the two men. Guizan allegedly charged the officers and "physically encountered two of the police officers," according to the report.

The two officers were identified as Brian Weir an 8-year veteran of the Trumbull Police Department, and Michael Sweeney, a 7-year veteran of the Monroe Police Department.

Investigators have not released information on how many times Guizan was shot or which officer shot him.

An autopsy on the dead man is scheduled to be conducted by the chief state medical examiner.  Terebesi's home was hit by gunfire May 7. He had been arrested last month on three counts of possessing drug paraphernalia.

The incident is being investigated by the State's Attorney's office and the State Police.

Source: No guns at Easton raid site
Article Last Updated: 05/19/2008 12:05:18 PM EDT

EASTON — While state officials this morning continue to investigate the fatal police shooting of a person at a Dogwood Drive house yesterday, sources indicate that no guns were found in the home.
The identity of the dead person had not been released by late morning, but State Police indicate a more complete report on the incident may be released later today.

Another occupant of the home injured during a confrontation with a regional police squad, attempting to serve a warrant, apparently remains hospitalized. None of the officers on the raid, two of whom were initially reported to be injured, remain under treatment this morning.

The squad of Easton officers and the Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team battered its way into the house at 91 Dogwood Drive just before 2:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

Before the team entered, it apparently launched "flash bags" into the house that set off loud noises to distract and confuse the home's occupants.

The home, which was occupied by Ronald Terebesi, 42, was hit by gunfire May 7. Terebesi had been arrested last month on three counts of possessing drug paraphernalia. It was not known as of this morning whether Terebsi was the party killed or injured during the raid.

Police said the person killed during the raid had charged at officers in a threatening manner.

The incident is being investigated by the State's Attorney's office and the State Police.

1 dead, 3 hurt in Easton shooting
Article Last Updated: 05/18/2008 11:17:19 PM EDT

Click photo to enlargePolice leave the home on Dogwood Drive where a person was... (Christian Abraham/Staff photographer )«1234»EASTON — An attempt to serve a search and seizure warrant at a Dogwood Drive home went awry Sunday afternoon, leaving one person dead and shattering the serenity of the usually quiet neighborhood.

At about 2:20 p.m. officers from the Easton Police Department and the Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team arrived at the small gray ranch at 91 Dogwood Drive to execute the warrant, according to Easton Police Chief John Solomon.

"After the officers entered, shots were fired," Solomon said.

One person was killed and two Easton officers and another occupant of the house were taken to the hospital for undisclosed injuries that were not considered life-threatening, police said.  Solomon also would not confirm the identity of the person who died.  The person was fatally shot by a local police officer after the man "charged the entry team and physically encountered two of the police officers," State Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said. Specifics of the confrontation, including whether the resident had a weapon, were not disclosed.

Ronald A. Terebesi, 42, lived in the home. He was arrested on a warrant April 12 on three counts of possession of drug paraphernalia after police were called there March 31 on the report of a medical emergency.

Then on May 7, gunshots were fired through the windows of the house but no one was hurt.

Police said they found shotgun rounds had been fired through the front windows, rear door and kitchen window of the home when they responded to a 911 call at 4:12 that morning. A red sedan with a loud muffler was seen leaving the area after the shooting, police said.  On Sunday afternoon, residents gathered in the driveway of a home across from Terebesi's and watched as officers from Monroe, Trumbull, Fairfield and Easton, as well as the State Police Major Crime Squad, processed the scene.  About a half dozen young children played in the street in front of the police tape that cordoned off the area as their parents and neighbors waited for news as to what had happened.

Dogwood Drive resident Gerry O'Brien said he was in the basement of his home when he heard a loud noise.

"It sounded like a battering ram," he said. Other family members thought they heard gunshots, he said.

"It was a little frightening," he said. Other neighbors said that a team of about 10 officers in combat gear arrived at the house and forced the door open. It was then that the shots rang out, they said.

Terebesi was not friendly with him or any of his neighbors, O'Brien said. "We have a tight-knit homeowners association," he said, to which Terebesi did not belong.

"He definitely kept different hours than the rest of us," he said, adding that there were often late-night goings-on at the home.

The neighborhood association had scheduled a meeting for Sunday afternoon, O'Brien said. They had requested a police officer attend to address the problems at Terebesi's home, he said, but were told one would not be available.

"They said they would be busy working on a case," he said. Sunday's events didn't come as a complete surprise to neighbors, he said, because of the past police activity at the house.

"If this represents a resolution to the problems there, then I feel good about it," O'Brien said.

The Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team is a consortium of officers from six neighboring police departments, each of which assigns officers to the team, Solomon said. The case has been turned over to the state police, Solomon said, because it involves a shooting in which local police were involved.  Vance on Sunday night declined to release the identities of all involved, but said their names would be made available today.  The identities were being withheld Sunday to give police time to notify their families, Vance said.

Easton police also declined to identify the two officers involved in the incident.

Op-Ed Contributor
It’s Always the End of the World as We Know It
January 1, 2010

Christchurch, New Zealand

IT seems so distant, 1999. Bill Clinton had survived impeachment, his popularity hardly dented, Sept. 11 was just another date and music fans were enjoying a young singer named Britney Spears.

But there was a particular unease in the air. The so-called Y2K problem, the inability of computers to read dates beyond 1999 threatened to turn Jan. 1, 2000 into a nightmare. The issue had first been noticed by programmers in the 1950s, but had been ignored. As the turn of the century loomed, though, it seemed that humankind faced a litany of horrors.

Haywire navigation controls might cause aircraft to fall from the skies. Electricity grids, water systems and telephone networks would be knocked out, while nuclear power plants would be subject to meltdown. Savings and pension accounts would be wiped out in a general bank failure. A cascade of breakdowns in communication and commerce would create vast shortages of food and medicine, which would, in turn, produce riots, lawlessness and social collapse. Even worse, ICBMs might rise from their silos unbidden, spreading death across the globe.

Y2K problems would not be limited to mainframe computers that governed the information systems of the modern world, but were going to affect millions of tiny computer chips found everywhere. Thanks to these wonky microprocessors, elevators would die, G.P.S. devices would stop working and dishwashers would dry the food onto the plates before trying to rinse it off. Even ordinary cars might spontaneously accelerate to fatal, uncontrollable speeds, with brakes failing to respond.

The Y2K catastrophe was promoted with increasing shrillness toward century’s end: headlines proclaimed a “computer time bomb” or “a date with disaster.” Vanity Fair’s January 1999 article “The Y2K Nightmare” caught the sensationalist tone, claiming that “folly, greed and denial” had “muffled two decades of warnings from technology experts.”

Among the most reviled of the Y2K deniers was Bill Gates, who not only declared that Microsoft’s PCs would take the date turnover in stride, but had the audacity to blame those who “love to tell tales of fear” for the worldwide anxiety. Mr. Gates’s denialism was ignored as governments and corporations set in place immensely expensive schemes to immunize systems against the Y2K bug.

They weren’t the only ones keen to get in on the end-time spirit. The Rev. Jerry Falwell suggested that Y2K would be the confirmation of Christian prophecy, “God’s instrument to shake this nation, to humble this nation.” The Y2K crisis might incite a worldwide revival that would lead to “the rapture of the church.” Along with many survivalists, Mr. Falwell advised stocking up on food and guns.

So the scene was set here in New Zealand for midnight on Dec. 31, 1999. We are just west of the dateline, and thus would be the first to experience not only popping Champagne corks and fireworks, but the Y2K catastrophe, if any. As clocks hit midnight, Champagne and skyrockets were the only explosions of interest, since telephones, ATMs, cars, computers and airplanes worked just fine. The head of the government’s Y2K Readiness Commission declared victory: “New Zealand’s investment in planning and preparation has paid off.”

Confident that our millions were well spent, we waited for news of the calamities sure to hit countries that had ignored Y2K. Asia, a Deutsche Bank official had predicted, was going to be “burnt toast” on New Year’s Day — not just the lesser-developed areas of Vietnam and China, but South Korea, which by 1999 was a highly computer-dependent society. South Korea, one computer expert told me, had a national telephone system similar to British Telecom’s. But where the British had wisely sunk millions of pounds into Y2K remediation, South Korea had done next to nothing.

However, exactly 10 years ago today, as the date change moved on through the Far East, India, Russia, the Middle East and Europe, it became apparent that it made little difference whether you lived in Britain, which at great expense had revamped many of its computer systems, or the lackadaisical Ukraine, which had ignored the issue.

With minor glitches that would have gone unnoticed any other day of the week, the world kept ticking on. It must have been galling for computer-conscientious Germans to observe how life continued its pleasurable path for feckless Italians, who had generally paid no attention to Y2K. There were problems, to be sure: in Australia, a bus-ticket machine stamped the wrong date, while in Britain a tide gauge in Portsmouth Harbor failed. Still, the South Korean phone system came through unscathed.

By the time midnight reached the United States, where upward of $100 billion had been spent on Y2K fixes, there was little anxiety. Indeed, the general health of American information systems, fixed and not, became clearer in the new year. The Small Business Administration calculated that 1.5 million businesses had undertaken no Y2K remediation. On Jan. 3, it received about 40 phone calls from businesses that had experienced minor faults, like cash registers that misread the year “2000” as “1900” (which seemed everywhere the single most common error caused by Y2K).

KNOWING our computers is difficult enough. Harder still is to know ourselves, including our inner demons. From today’s perspective, the Y2K fiasco seems to be less about technology than about a morbid fascination with end-of-the-world scenarios. This ought to strike us as strange. The cold war was fading in 1999, we were witnessing a worldwide growth in wealth and standards of living, and Islamic terrorism was not yet seen as a serious global threat. It should have been a year of golden weather, a time for the human race to relax and look toward a brighter, more peaceful future. Instead, with computers as a flimsy pretext, many seemed to take pleasure in frightening themselves to death over a coming calamity.

No doubt part of the blame must go to those consultants who took businesses and governments for an expensive ride in the lead-up to New Year’s Day. But doom-laden exaggerations about Y2K fell on ears that were all-too receptive. The Y2K fiasco was about more than simple prudence.

Religions from Zoroastrianism to Judaism to Christianity to U.F.O. cults have been built around notions of sin and the world’s end. The Y2K threat resonated with those ideas. Human beings have constructed an enormous, wasteful, unnatural civilization, filled with sin — or, worse in some minds, pollution and environmental waste. Suppose it turned out that a couple of zeros inadvertently left off old computer codes brought crashing down the very civilization computers helped to create. Cosmic justice!

The theme of our fancy inventions ultimately destroying us has been a favorite in fiction at least since Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” We can place alongside this a continuous succession of spectacular films built on visions of the end of the world. Such end-time fantasies must have a profound, persistent appeal in order to keep drawing wide-eyed crowds into movie theaters, as historically they have drawn crowds into churches, year after year.

Apocalyptic scenarios are a diversion from real problems — poverty, terrorism, broken financial systems — needing intelligent attention. Even something as down-to-earth as the swine-flu scare has seemed at moments to be less about testing our health care system and its emergency readiness than about the fate of a diseased civilization drowning in its own fluids. We wallow in the idea that one day everything might change in, as St. Paul put it, the “twinkling of an eye” — that a calamity might prove to be the longed-for transformation. But turning practical problems into cosmic cataclysms takes us further away from actual solutions.

This applies, in my view, to the towering seas, storms, droughts and mass extinctions of popular climate catastrophism. Such entertaining visions owe less to scientific climatology than to eschatology, and that familiar sense that modernity and its wasteful comforts are bringing us closer to a biblical day of judgment. As that headline put it for Y2K, predictions of the end of the world are often intertwined with condemnations of human “folly, greed and denial.” Repent and recycle!

Angela Carella: Report: Dispatchers, not cops, are slow to respond
Published 09:37 p.m., Saturday, May 12, 2012

Most urban police departments in the United States try to respond to high-priority calls in five minutes or less.

Rural police departments try for seven minutes or less.

But the average response time for such calls in Stamford is 12 minutes.

For low-priority calls in Stamford the average response time is 26 minutes.

The delay appears to be happening not with patrol officers but in the 911 dispatch center, according to a report by Matrix Consulting Group, a California company hired by the city to analyze the Stamford Police Department.

"Queue time" in the dispatch center -- the number of minutes from when a call comes in to when it's sent to an officer in the field -- averages eight to 10 minutes, "longer than desired," the report states.

Some of the delay could be because Stamford, at 52 square miles, is a large city geographically, which increases travel time for officers, according to the report.

But it's the queue time in the dispatch center that drives the delays, a team of Matrix analysts concluded, citing several reasons:

Dispatchers follow an "exotic" schedule in which A, B and C squads rotate day and evening shifts and X, Y and Z squads work midnight shifts. Dispatchers are not deployed so that more are on duty when call volume is high and fewer are scheduled for quieter times of day. The lack of coordination "can result in substantive needs for additional staff," according to the report.

Research shows that it is "less productive" to have police, whose skills are in law enforcement, in charge of dispatch centers, the report states. Centers operate better when they are run by trained, professional dispatch managers and supervisors. Stamford's dispatch center is headed by a captain and five sergeants.

The dispatch center does not have a procedures manual, creating inconsistencies in how dispatchers record calls. If all dispatchers follow a manual, "efficiency, effectiveness and professionalism" will be improved, according to the report.

One result of inconsistent practices in the center is that Stamford dispatchers "take considerably longer processing calls in an effort to meet community expectations," the report stated.

A survey of employees showed that half the respondents rated dispatch service fair or poor. Such a response is "uncommon" for dispatch agencies, according to the report.

There are "significant issues" with how dispatchers use Computer Aided Dispatch software, the report found. Dispatchers are not trained the same so there are inconsistencies in how information is recorded.

With more efficient scheduling, common training and professional managers, the center can operate with nine full-time dispatchers, the report concluded. It now has 28.

The Matrix report is preliminary; a Board of Finance committee will get the final report at an upcoming meeting.

Public safety Director Ted Jankowski could not be reached for comment Friday. At some point police and other officials will have a chance to comment on the findings.

Stamford has enough officers who most often have enough time to respond to calls, the report found, but patrol units are not being dispatched quickly. Many police departments set response-time goals for calls, depending on priority, but Stamford does not, according to the Matrix report.

It points to studies that have shown that fast police response doesn't necessarily increase the likelihood that a crime will be interrupted or a criminal caught -- that's usually linked to how quickly a citizen calls 911.

The importance of response time has to do with perception, according to the report. Citizens have more confidence in their police department if the response is quick when they call.