Damage minimal in Suffield following storm

By Gregory A. Scibelli - Staff Writer
Suffield - posted Wed., Aug. 31, 2011
A live power line smokes on a property on South Stone Street on Aug. 28. Photos by Gregory A. Scibelli.
A live power line smokes on a property on South Stone Street on Aug. 28. Photos by Gregory A. Scibelli.

Damage was minimal as hurricane-turned-tropical storm Irene came through northern Connecticut Aug. 28, affecting Suffield with some downed trees, localized flooding, and minor power outages on three streets.

On Aug. 29, the day after the storm, First Selectman Tom Frenaye said approximately 450 residents were without power, as utility companies continued to work on restoring power on Mapleton Avenue, South Stone Street and Ratley Road. According to Connecticut Light & Power, Suffield had the second-lowest percentage of customers without power.

Physical damage included two instances of trees falling on houses, but no one was hurt in either incident. Other areas of town experienced some downed trees and downed power lines.

“Overall, this storm was not bad [here], compared to what many other areas in the state had experienced,” said Frenaye. “We had a thunderstorm on July 9 that did more damage in town.”

Flooding was considered the biggest issue in Suffield, and Frenaye said several areas of town experienced some minor flooding as several brooks reached flood levels, although street flooding was minimal and temporary. “Stony Brook had reached its maximum level at noon Sunday [Aug. 28],” said Frenaye. “Because it reached that level, some water did spill over into some backyards.”

Another brook in Suffield, Muddy Brook, did not reach the road level.

Frenaye said no major accidents were reported and the town received around 7 inches of rain. Because of the near-flood levels, Frenaye said any more rain could have caused difficulty for many residents. “One or 2 more inches beyond what we received could have caused some massive flooding and a lot of damage,” he said.

Another area of concern, White's Pond at Sunrise Park, reached its capacity, but Frenaye said it did not spill over. “It came really close,” he said, “but fortunately it did not spill over, and as of Monday it was heading back down.”

Frenaye said while the damage ended up being marginal, it was important that the town was well-prepared for whatever might have come from the storm. With the potential for winds at hurricane speeds of more than 75 miles per hour and about 10 to 12 inches of rainfall expected, planning was important to the process.

“The luxury we did have in this situation was that we knew this was coming and we had several days to prepare for this storm,” said Frenaye. “I held several meetings with department heads, and we did conference calls with the state emergency management agency to hear the updated weather reports and learn what we could do to prepare.”

Frenaye complimented town residents on heeding the warnings of town and state officials. “People in Suffield stayed off the streets and weathered the storm at home,” said Frenaye. “Fortunately, we did not get the worst of that storm.”

Following the storm, the Town of Suffield’s website, www.suffieldtownhall.com, had a message running on the main page regarding proper propane tank safety. The town had received information from the Vermont and New Hampshire fire marshals regarding propane tanks floating around in flood waters. Suffield residents have been advised to take precautions with propane tanks during potential flooding situations.

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