The blizzard that hit Connecticut was the worst winter storm that has occurred in over 35 years, dumping nearly 30 inches of snow on Southington and causing drifts of five feet in some areas. Although clean-up efforts are going well, officials are warning residents that it could be days before everything returns to normal.
In an update at 7 p.m. Saturday, Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback said the town's Public Works staff has decided to forego the 12-hour break with a goal of making sure each road is at least passable by midnight.
Public safety and access to public safety vehicles is the primary concern, Brumback said, but residents are asked to avoid traveling if at all possible to help expedite clean-up efforts.
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"Crews are making slow progress on cutting pathways on all roads. The Highway Superintendent is keeping all of the available crews on the road for several more hours with the goal of getting these pathways cut," Brumback said.
"Due to the extremely high levels of snow and the rifts associated with them it may be until later this week that the roads are completely plowed. Once we get the emergency pathways cut we will reconvene to ensure we have a sound strategy to get the road clearing completely and efficiently as possible."
Workers will be asked to come back during the early morning hours after rest and once a plan is in place, they will begin road widening efforts.
Brumback said while it is a difficult time for many in town who may feel "trapped" within their homes, the most important thing is to remain patient nd allow workers to have time needed to make travel safe for everyone as quickly as possible.
It's a sentiment that was echoed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who despite lifting a no travel ban at 4 p.m. Saturday, also spoke directly in requesting that residents limit their travel as much as possible over the next several days.
"Crews are out clearing roadways as we speak, but the fact is we are going to feel the impact of this storm for some time," Malloy said. "The longer we can keep traffic out of town centers and off of our highways, the more effective our recovery effort will be."
For the town, digging out is a difficult task but officials said Saturday that things could have been a lot worse.
The Southington Fire Department reported responding to "dozens" of carbon monoxide alarms overnight and during the day Saturday and police were kept busy with a multitude of disabled vehicles that had attempted to venture out into the snow.
In all these instances, however, officials said there were no serious injuries or fatalities and no direct cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, although several people were treated as a precaution.
If you haven't yet, public safety personal is actively urging everyone to make certain their heating vents are cleared appropriately to avoid issues with carbon monoxide.
The Southington Police Department issued the following warning on their Facebook Page Saturday:
If you use a propane or natural gas heating appliance such as a furnace, vented fire logs, hot water heater, or gas clothes dryer, make sure the appliance vent on the outside wall of your house does not become blocked by heavy snow accumulation or a snow drift. The vent is typically round, goes from the appliance through the wall of your house 18″-30″ inches above ground. Blockage of the appliance vent can cause the buildup of dangerous carbon monoxide gas in your home. Check your vent during this storm and do not let snow block the escape of dangerous exhaust gases.
The town was also fortunate not to suffer any power outages or building collapses as a result of the snows and heavy winds, some which exceeded 40 miles per hour according to the National Weather Service. Across the state, 33,423 Connecticut Light & Power customers remain without electricity as of 7:45 p.m.
Towns suffering the biggest outages include Old Lyme (86 percent), East Lyme (81 percent), Lyme (78 percent), North Stonington (75 percent) and Waterford (66 percent). Stonington is also reporting a 52 percent outage rate at this time.
"I am encouraging everyone I talk to to keep this storm in perspective," Brumback said. "It is the worst storm to hit this area in over 35 years with almost 30 inches of snow and four to five-foot drifts. The snow plows began pre-treating the roads at 4 a.m. Friday and have run almost nonstop ever since."
"They are working as hard as humanly possible while keeping an aging fleet operational and being diverted by emergency calls and transporting public safety people to points they can get to work."
It's still not known at this time how the massive storm may affect schools next week and School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. said a decision would be made Sunday evening and all parents alerted as soon as possible.
"I have coordinated a regional call with superintendents for 5:30 p.m. tomorrow evening," Erardi said. "Shortly thereafter I will be able to update all on the status of school on Monday."
How have you handled the extensive snow? Have you been able to dig out yet? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
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