In response to an “urgent” request from the mayor for more help digging out of Winter Storm Nemo, the National Guard is sending 24 troops from Pennsylvania to hit New Haven streets before dawn Wednesday.
Rick Fontana, the city’s deputy director of emergency operations, made that announcement Tuesday afternoon at a briefing in the Emergency Operations Center.
He said 24 people from the Air National Guard are en route from Pennsylvania to help New Haven remove the 34 inches of snow that piled up over the weekend, paralyzing the city and leaving people homebound for days.
The Air National Guard will be staging out of the Marine Reserve Center at 338 East Shore Parkway, Fontana said. They’re bringing two large Volvo pay loaders and three medium Bobcats for scooping up snow and one large “grader,” a powerful tractor with a central plow.
The Guard will work in 12-hour shifts from 5 a.m. Wednesday, continuously through Monday, Fontana said. On Wednesday morning, the city plans to dispatch them to clear streets in Dixwell or Dwight.
“Do they have experience with narrow city streets?” asked Mayor John DeStefano.
Yes, replied Fontana. “That’s what they do.”
The equipment comes fully staffed by the Guard, Fontana said. One Bobcat may be used to assist day laborers in clearing city bus stops.
The rescue team comes in response to an “urgent” request from the city for more help, Fontana said. The city first requested help Friday night, as the storm began. The Guard sent two pay loaders and five Humvees, with staffing to boot. Those two pay loaders will be out of commission beginning Wednesday, according to city public works chief Doug Arndt.
DeStefano expressed frustration over the past two days that the state and federal government weren’t providing more help. He asked Fontana Monday to issue another written request for more assistance.
The city had 94 pieces of equipment on the road Tuesday, according to Arndt: 32 heavy plows, 22 pay loaders and 40 tri-axle dump trucks. The crews will be focusing on main arterial roads Tuesday night, then neighborhood streets Wednesday night.
Make sure to get your car out of the way before it’s towed.