Communities work to clean up after Irene

By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Region - posted Mon., Aug. 29, 2011
Union resident Dona Corsini said that ‘scared’ did not describe the feeling she felt when she heard the crack of the hemlock tree that landed on her porch during storm ‘Irene’ on Aug. 28. Photos by Lauri Voter.
Union resident Dona Corsini said that ‘scared’ did not describe the feeling she felt when she heard the crack of the hemlock tree that landed on her porch during storm ‘Irene’ on Aug. 28. Photos by Lauri Voter.

For some, it was hurricane Irene, while for others it was tropical storm Irene. Into whichever category each of Connecticut’s towns fell, everyone felt the impact of the recent storm that blanketed the state with rain and high winds on Sunday, Aug. 28.

Local communities were prepared.

The town of Willington announced to the public via e-mail communication that it would have an “emergency operations center (EOC) open at the fire station at 426 River Road.” The EOC included members of the fire departments, public works and the selectman’s office who assembled to coordinate town-wide, storm-related occurrences.

As of Monday morning, Willington was contending with town-wide power outages and road closures. The EOC remained open, as Connecticut Light and Power was expected to send in extra crews. In a news release, the town of Willington noted that CL&P advised  “it could take 5-7 days to restore power to 100 percent of the businesses and residences in Connecticut.”

The town of Stafford announced to its residents that town agencies would establish an EOC to provide emergency services to the town during the storm. Emergency shelters were available, but were not needed, according to the first selectman’s office.

The storm impacted most communities in similar fashion, by causing downed power lines and road closures. In Stafford, approximately 10 roads were closed.

Union resident Dona Corsini said that “scared” was not a strong enough word to use to describe her reaction to the cracking sound she heard at approximately 9 a.m. on Aug. 28, when winds snapped a large hemlock tree, causing it to land on her front porch.

As a result of a failed generator, Johnson Memorial Medical Center was forced to evacuate 43 patients from Johnson Memorial Hospital. The patients were relocated to various area hospitals.

In its post-storm news release, JMMC stated, “Senior leadership made the decision to transfer all 43 patients from the hospital and immediately divert any incoming ambulances. All patients arrived safely at their destinations less than four and a half hours after starting the evacuation.”

“With no power, patients had to be carried down the stairs from the second and third story,” said David Morgan, interim CEO of JMMC. Power was eventually restored, and Morgan said he expected the hospital to be “fully functional” within 24 hours of the outage.

A post-storm news release issued by FEMA said federal aid will be made available to some local communities to assist with the financial impact from the storm. “The president’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the entire state,” according to the press release.

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