Blizzard causes headaches around the state
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Region - posted Tue., Feb. 12, 2013
The snow began to fall at approximately 8 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, and accumulated rapidly. By mid-morning, Gov. Dannel Malloy had declared a state emergency. “People need to take this storm seriously. If current predictions are accurate, we will need people to stay off the roads so that emergency personnel and utility crews can get to the places they need to get to, and to make sure that our plows can keep critical roadways clear,” he said at a mid-morning press conference. The governor issued a travel ban beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday, prohibiting non-emergency travel on all limited-access highways throughout the state.
The Hebron area was reported to be among the top locations in the state for accumulated snowfalls by nightfall, with Colchester coming in at 21 inches. Coventry was not far behind, with a reported 20 inches of snow.
Residents awoke Saturday morning to find more than 2 feet of snow, with another 3 to 6 inches expected by the time the snowstorm moved out of the region by early afternoon. Total snowfall for the region registered in the 3-foot range. The travel ban was officially lifted at 4 p.m. on Saturday. “While we are lifting the ban on travel this afternoon at 4 p.m., I still want to urge residents to stay off the roads if at all possible,” Malloy said. Some local roads remained unplowed by Saturday afternoon.
While high winds during the storm were expected to cause numerous power outages, the Hebron/Columbia region was largely spared this inconvenience, with few outages reported. State-wide, there were reportedly close to 30,000 outages at the height of the disruption.
On Sunday, Malloy announced that his request for a presidential emergency declaration in the wake of Friday’s historic winter storm had been approved. He urged residents to continue staying off the roads unless travel was absolutely necessary.
On Monday, many school districts remained closed, as towns struggled to complete road-clearing, and another round of wintry weather complicated the situation. A winter weather advisory issued at 8:26 a.m. on Monday warned of freezing rain and sleet, with potentially a mix of snow, with accumulations of up to 1 inch. Precipitation was expected to change over to rain at 11a.m., prompting concerns regarding localized flooding due to snow-filled gutters and drains. The rain also caused worry about potential roof leaks due to accumulated snow clogging gutters.
It was a combination of factors that led Hebron public schools to stay closed on Monday, according to Interim Superintendent of Schools Kathryn Veronesi. Veronesi had been in the district since Friday, when she was stranded in Hebron along with her black Lab, Lulu. She and Lulu were staying at the home of a friend. Veronesi spoke with the district’s maintenance foreman, Wayne Durocher, on Saturday.
“He called me in the morning and told me that he didn’t have the equipment to move all of this snow,” she said. According to Veronesi, Durocher normally clears the parking lots and pathways of the town’s two elementary schools with a plow-equipped pickup truck and a snow blower. There was simply not enough time for him to clear all doors and walkways sufficiently, even after the town’s public works department came to his assistance. “Of course, there were pretty busy themselves,” said Veronesi.
To complicate matters, there was the impending forecast threatening to make for a messy morning commute on Monday, and concerns regarding how snow-laden roofs would react to warmer temperatures and rain. But by Monday afternoon, it was looking like things would be good to go for Tuesday. “Unless something else comes up, the buildings look like they’ll be in good shape for the kids to come to school,” said Veronesi.