Evacuations Ordered On East Shore; Schools Closed; Emergency Shelters Set Up
by Paul Bass and Melissa Bailey | Oct 28, 2012 3:17 pm
Posted to: Breaking News, Superstorm Sandy
The mayor ordered the evacuation of homes in the Morris Cove and City Point neighborhoods and part of Fair Haven beginning at 8:30 a.m. Monday, as New Haven braced for a storm surge from Hurricane Sandy expected to double the worst of Tropical Storm Irene.
Mayor John DeStefano made his announcement at a 2 p.m. press conference Sunday inside the city’s Emergency Operations Center in the basement of 200 Orange St., which began humming with top officials working the phones and conferring on plans.
He has issued a state of emergency for the city. Statewide, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said as many 70 percent of people could face power outages.
At its peak Monday night, Hurricane Sandy is expected to send New Haven water surges as high as 10 feet above regular high tide, twice what Tropical Storm Irene produced in 2011. And winds could whip as fast as 60 miles per hour, with some gusts as high as 80, according to the mayor.
While the hurricane is not expected to hit New Haven directly, forecasters believe it will begin walloping the city around midnight Sunday, then continue building force through Monday. Those monster high tides are expected around midnight Monday.
“It’s high tide we’re particularly concerned about,” the mayor reported.
City workers were out inspecting buildings, putting sand bags and jersey barriers by vulnerable shoreline homes, placing pumps and sandbags at common flooding spots, and urging families to comply with the evacuation order in the three affected areas.
“This is a storm event that is predicted to be in excess of Irene. You are putting our public safety officers at risk if they have to go and find you because you didn’t leave,” DeStefano said in pleading with people in Morris Cove, City Point and parts of Fair Haven to leave their homes Monday.
He also urged people on Sunday to clear leaves out of catch basins. Because this storm is coming later in the fall than Irene did, leaves have started falling—meaning gutters will get clogged, and more streets could flood. Prime flooding areas include Union Station, Route 34, Middletown Avenue, Quinnipiac Avenue, City Point, Morris Cove, Fair Haven, Long Wharf, and parts of Blake Street
Among DeStefano’s major announcements Sunday:
• People living south of Girard Street in Morris Cove or between the highway and the harbor in City Point are to leave their homes beginning at 8:30 a.m. Monday. Also, Fair Haveners living on Front and Haven streets are asked to leave. (Click here and here for coverage of Morris Cove’s experience last year with Tropical Storm Irene.)
• An advisory evacuation is issued for people living in “low lying areas of Blake Street” in West Hills.
• Public schools are closed Monday and Tuesday.
• Garbage pick-ups will take place as usual Monday. Tuesday’s pick-ups are postponed until Wednesday.
• Tweed-New Haven flights will be suspended Monday. Trains will stop running out of Union Station at 7 p.m. Sunday. CT Transit buses will stop running at midnight Sunday. They will not run on Monday.
• The city is setting up an emergency shelter at Career High School at 140 Legion Ave.. It will have a secondary “area of refuge” at the Benjamin Jepson School at 15 Lexington St. for people who don’t make it off the East Shore in time; generators will keep electricity on there, and the city plans to transport people to Career if they need to go. Those facilities will open at 8:30 a.m. Monday. (Click here for a story on the scene at an emergency shelter during Irene.)
• Homeless shelters will remain open during the day.
The storm’s local impact will be determined at three key points, according to DeStefano: High tide at 11:30 p.m. Sunday, when the water is expected to rise to about nine feet above normal levels, or two feet higher than normal; Monday’s midday high tide, when the anticipated level is another foot and a half; and final the climax around midnight Monday, with levels as high as 17 feet, or 10 feet higher than normal.
Some advice to people from city officials:
• Don’t touch downed power lines!
• Expect to see some fallen trees moved to the curb (assuming they don’t have electrical wires) while crews attend to more pressing emergencies. Crews will return to get them later.
• Have batteries and food on hand. Be prepared for the power to go out.
• If you rely on well water, have three gallons on hand for each person to drink each day; if not just one gallon. The city’s water system usually holds up fine even in major storms, said Rick Fontana of the city’s emergency operations office. But just in case, the Water Pollution Control Authority and the Regional Water Authority were inspecting pumps on Sunday in advance of Sandy’s arrival, said Fontana (pictured below).
Following is an earlier story on storm preparations:
J.T. Sancomb hauled his cat boat out of the harbor onto solid ground, as the mayor urged New Haveners to unclog their storm drains, get their flashlights ready, and fill their cars with gas in anticipation of the upcoming “Frankenstorm.”
The preparations—both official and unofficial—came Friday afternoon as Hurricane Sandy barreled up the East Coast with 80-mile-per-hour winds. The storm, listed as a Category 1 hurricane, is predicted to hit the New York area some time Monday.
New Haven is not expecting a direct hit, Mayor John DeStefano said at a press conference Friday afternoon in the city’s Emergency Operations Center below 200 Orange St. The city is expecting “a lot of rain” and wind, with the first signs predicted to begin Sunday or Monday. With a full moon bringing a high tide Monday, New Haveners should expect floods in parts of the city that typically flood, such as the stretch of Union Avenue between the train station and police headquarters.
The storm comes 14 months after Tropical Storm Irene walloped the city, eroding beaches, felling trees, destroying docks, and prompting an evacuation in Morris Cove.
Hurricane Sandy falls two months later in the year, DeStefano noted—so unlike with Irene, fallen leaves will get in the way of water drainage. DeStefano said city crews will be unclogging storm drains; he enlisted neighbors’ help in checking the drains and clearing them out as well.
He gave New Haveners several pieces of advice:
• Prepare for a power outage. That means stocking food, water and flashlights.
• Fill your car with gasoline.
• If you have medications that need to be refrigerated, make sure there’s a way to keep them cool if you lose power.
• Bring inside any lawn furniture or other items that may blow around in high winds.
Click here more advice from the American Red Cross.
DeStefano said the city has been photographing public infrastructure to document its condition in case of further damage from the storm. Officials are calling up outside contractors, particularly those that remove fallen trees, to swing into action if need be. The city is preparing to open three schools as emergency shelters if necessary. The fire department plans to borrow several of the Sound School’s hand-made wooden boats (pictured) in case it needs to rescue people, according to Principal Rebecca Gratz.
Meanwhile, members of the Pequonnock Yacht Club on City Point were busy Friday hauling boats off of the water and onto dry land.
Sancomb (pictured) said he learned his lesson last year when his beloved cat boat, Irish Rover, rode out Irene in the water, in a slip at the club.
The boat “got destroyed,” Sancomb said. Sancomb bought the exact same hull and rolled in his replacement boat, Bay Rhumb. The 17-foot gaff-rigged cat boat is named after a “rhumb line,” the zig-zagged path a sailboat takes through the water when traveling upwind.
With Hurricane Sandy coming up, Sancomb said he isn’t taking any chances this time.
“I’m taking it out of the water because of what happened last time,” he said. He said he was going to take the boat out next week because the weather is getting cold, anyway.
He decided to take it out a week early “and not run the risk of having a destroyed boat.”
Sancomb sat in his boat Friday afternoon as fellow club members hauled it out of the water on a lift and wheeled it over to a parking lot. He said for this storm, he plans to store the boat “on the hard” (on dry land), as opposed to “in the wet.”
Fellow Pequonnocker Richie Courtright (pictured) stood in waders, powerwashing boats as they came out of the water. Last year, the yacht club lost three of six docks, as well as several boats, to the storm, he said.
“We got hammered last year,” he said, “so we’re trying to prepare.”
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Very irresponsible to say “not expecting a direct hit” - shows a deep misunderstanding of the fact that not all Hurricanes are equally wide or powerful.
Union Avenue floods regularly. Why hasn’t the city decided to shut down the train station? It is my impression that the train service will cease. That area should be shut down or else we will see more photos in the Independent of people standing on cars, and a serious amount of property damage to match.