Flooding causes school delay, basement issues

By Gregory A. Scibelli - Staff Writer
Windsor Locks - posted Sat., Sep. 10, 2011
The fire department responded to a basement flooding on West Street on Sept. 8. Photos by Gregory A. Scibelli.
The fire department responded to a basement flooding on West Street on Sept. 8. Photos by Gregory A. Scibelli.

The start of the school year in Windsor Locks was delayed for one day at the end of August due to power outages after tropical storm Irene. But on Sept. 8, school was delayed for 90 minutes due to flooding from the remnants of tropical storm Lee. “It seemed like the heavens just opened up and it just rained and rained,” said Superintendent Wayne Sweeney. “We got about 4 inches of rain overnight, and the streams overflowed, and there were some serious floods.”

Sweeney said the easy decision was to delay school, allowing public safety crews and the Department of Public Works to attempt to drain several areas in town, including a lower-elevation section of Center Street, which was impassable due to the flooding.

Assistant Fire Chief Francis DeBella said the fire department was up early to respond to several issues throughout town, including trapped motorists.

“It was a pretty hectic morning for us,” said DeBella. “We got called out about 5:30 a.m. to help someone who was trapped in their car.  We did a few of those rescues.”

The rest of the work was making roads passable and open again so school could operate following the 90-minute delay. DeBella said the fire department assisted in draining the affected roads, including Center Street.

By 10 a.m., Sweeney said one could not tell anything bad had happened. “The town did an excellent job responding to this issue, and we were able to get on with our school day,” Sweeney said.

While school was in session, the department had more work ahead of them, assisting some residents, including one at 47 West St., to pump out flooded basements. “We had a few basements that were pretty bad,” said DeBella. “A few of them were flooded 2 to 3 feet deep.”

DeBella echoed a National Weather Service report stating 4 inches of rain fell during the overnight hours from a storm that was not originally projected to hit the area head-on. No one lost power due to the storm.

Several backyards received some minor flooding, and area officials are watching the level of the Connecticut River. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning along the river through Saturday, Sept. 10. The service said the warning could be lifted sooner.

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