Freak autumn snowstorm wallops the region

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Region - posted Wed., Nov. 2, 2011
Some residents still enjoyed Halloween by decorating snowmen with pumpkins.
Some residents still enjoyed Halloween by decorating snowmen with pumpkins.

A freak autumn snowstorm on Oct. 29 blanketed the region in up to 20 inches of snow, wreaking havoc a mere two months after Irene thrashed through the region. Early reports put the number of outages in Connecticut at the highest number ever recorded, with more than 800,000 residents reporting a loss of power. The National Weather Service called the storm the worst October snow storm in New England history.

With numerous gas stations losing power, long lines formed at stations with functioning pumps; delays in delivery combined with increased demand caused many stations to run out of fuel.  Many communities, faced with dark streets and downed wires, postponed or cancelled Halloween celebrations. Some communities immediately called off school for the entire first week of November. Others took a wait-and-see attitude, cancelling classes a day at a time, until they had a better sense of when power would be restored. Hebron, for example, sent out an email alert to parents at 2:45 p.m., on Nov. 1, notifying them that school would be cancelled for Nov. 2. While power had been restored to parts of the town, including Hebron Elementary School, Gilead Hill School was still in the dark.

By Tuesday, Nov. 1, Connecticut Light and Power had issued a power-restoration schedule for many Connecticut towns. Columbia and Lebanon, according to the CL and P web site, were looking at a restoration estimate of Sunday, Nov. 6. Hebron’s prospects weren’t much better, with an estimated restoration date of Saturday, Nov. 5. Franklin was estimated to be restored by Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m.

While Andover didn’t make the updated list, an e-mail bulletin by local “Town Crier” Dianne Grenier put Andover’s outage at 697 out of 1,396 CL and P customers. “That’s 2 perccent more than this morning…good grief,” said Grenier. With temperatures falling below freezing, overnight shelter was being provided at RHAM High School, with showers available to residents. A daytime warm shelter was set up at the Andover First Congregational Church basement, providing heat, water, MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), electricity for charging electronics, Wi-Fi Internet connection, friendship, games and snacks.

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