“Today’s The Day We’ve Got To Shine”
by Thomas MacMillan | Oct 30, 2012 8:09 am
Posted to: Breaking News, Superstorm Sandy
As Superstorm Sandy headed out of town leaving 195 fallen trees, 107 blocked streets and 172 downed power lines in her wake, city officials convened in a downtown bunker to plan the clean-up.
Spared the worst brunt of a still devastating storm, officials hope to reopen schools and resume garbage pick-ups on Wednesday.
Those plans emerged as Mayor John DeStefano led a 6 a.m. meeting Tuesday with managers from all city departments in the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) deep in the bowels of the Hall of Records at 200 Orange St.
Fueled by Brueger’s bagels and coffee, city staff laid out their priorities for post-storm repairs. The top goals: Clear trees and tree limbs off the roads, deal with downed wires that are blocking streets, and restore power to the city.
Sandy swept into town Monday, bringing ferocious winds and 7-foot water surges with her. The city avoided the worst-case scenario of flooding when the storm suddenly moved west before the 11:53 p.m. high tide; the “bathtub” of Morris Cove was not filled after all.
Still, 5,101 United Illuminating customers—or nearly 10 percent of New Haven—were without power as of Tuesday morning.
At the 6 a.m. meeting in the EOC, city Chief Administrative Officer Rob Smuts stood at a podium and ran through the agenda, with Mayor DeStefano interrupting often to ask pointed questions of his staff. City officials crowded into rows of desks in the low-ceilinged room offered reports and plans for the day’s post-storm tasks.
Board of Ed Chief Operating Officer Will Clark said eight schools are without power. Schools are closed today but tentatively planned to open tomorrow. The Sound School, on City Point, was hit worst by the storm. The extent of damage there remains to be seen.
The city operated two emergency shelters during the storm. At Career High, 159 people rode out the storm. Twenty-two people stayed at the Benjamin Jepsen School, which lost power from the grid but has a generator. Mayor DeStefano ordered the shelters to stay open today in case they’re needed by people who don’t have electricity at home.
The parks department is sending out 26 workers in 11 crews to clear downed trees. Smuts said a total of 195 trees are down citywide. The Department of Public Works is also sending out staff and 7 or 8 contractors to take care of trees.
Many of those trees are blocking streets. Thirty-eight streets are barricaded by city staff and 69 are reported as blocked and need to be assessed to see if they should be closed.
Across the city, 172 wires are down. United Illuminating has one “make safe” crew out to ensure downed wires aren’t a hazard.
The next steps are to secure the downed wires and to open streets up, Mayor DeStefano said. After hunkering down during the storm, people are going to want to get out of their homes, he said.
Trash pick-up remains suspended on Tuesday; it will start up again on Wednesday. People who normally have trash picked up on Tuesday will do so on Wednesday, and so on through the week. Three-man crews will be out picking up small debris throughout town, said John Prokop, head of public works.
The city is making plans for curbside pick-up of downed tree limbs later this week.
Corporation Counsel Victor Bolden is getting ready to process any claims that might come from people whose cars are damaged by falling city trees.
Controller Mike O’Neill is compiling a master list of storm-associated expenditures, for FEMA reimbursement.
“Go To The Big Boys”
The economic development department will be working with the Economic Development Corporation to check in with businesses in town. Mayor DeStefano ordered them to go “door-to-door” starting with the bigger employers in town.
“Go to the big boys,” he said. He mentioned Assa Abloy and Ikea as well as the Sage oceanfront restaurant on City Point: “I’ll ask for the status at noon of what you’re hearing.”
The Livable City Initiative will perform similar canvassing with apartment buildings in town, visiting those without power to make sure everyone is taken care of.
Traffic director Jim Travers said Greyhound buses are not running. CT Transit may have limited service starting up at around noon, he said. The mayor asked him to check with Yale to see if Yale’s shuttle service is running.
Travers said the city has put up stop signs at traffic signals that aren’t working.
Housing authority head Karen Dubois-Walton said only one of the agency’s housing projects is without power, on Ferry Street.
Health department head Mario Garcia said sanitation workers will be working to help businesses without power that have perishable items.
City Hall is closed Tuesday, but DeStefano called for the registrar’s office to open to handle registrations and absentee ballots. The election is one week away, on Nov. 6.
“Go On Your Gut”
“What are we forgetting?” DeStefano said, as the meeting wrapped up. He asked building officials to turn out to inspect any construction sites, as well as the rail yards, the port. “Go on your gut after what you think you want to check.”
Communications staff planned a briefing for aldermen and state representatives at 10 a.m., and a press briefing at some point in the morning.
“Everybody did a great job,” DeStefano said. But “the people who pay us” are going to be impatient and want things cleaned up, he said. “Today’s the day we’ve got to shine.”
Tags: Sandy, EOC, DeStefano, electricity, flooding
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posted by: jeffreykerekes on October 30, 2012 10:16am
Here is one image of one of the Sound School buildings that was hit. Notice the deck is missing:
More images of damage here: http://www.ilovenewhaven.org
Thanks for posting the picture of the McNeil Building. Point of clarification, the decks had been removed last month in preparation for a post-Irene rebuild. Thankfully, we don’t have to repair the rebuilt decks. The crews were out cleaning up and working hard this morning.