Written by Patricia Gay
Wednesday, 30 June 2010 11:34
A storm that lasted just minutes tore through Weston on Thursday, June 24, packing such powerful wind and gusts that more than 20 roads were closed due to downed trees and power lines.
According to John Ojarovsky, Weston’s Communications Center manager, more than 400 town residents experienced power outages from the storm. Local and state crews worked quickly to clear trees that had snapped or were uprooted so utility workers could restore electricity.
As the storm rolled in around 2:20 p.m., the switchboard lit up at the Weston Communications Center. “We fielded numerous calls from residents advising us about trees down, wires down, and blocked roads,” Mr. Ojarovsky said.
There were problems reported on more than 20 roads in Weston, including Bridge Road South, Cannondale Road, Eleven O’Clock Road, Fanton Hill Road, Georgetown Road, Hedgerow Common, Hillcrest Lane, Kellogg Hill Road, Lyons Plain Road, Newtown Turnpike, Norfield Road, Old Easton Turnpike, Old Redding Road, Pilgrim Lane, Riverbank Drive, Silver Ridge Common, Singing Oaks Drive, Smith Farm Road, Soundview Farm Road, Steephill Road, Tannery Lane South, Ten O’Clock Lane, Twelve O’Clock Road and Wells Hill Road.
The storm blew through town in only a few minutes, and briefly knocked out power at Weston High School. It caused some flash flooding along town roads and parking lots — and also in the high school lobby, where a drain overflowed, covering much of the floor with an inch or so of water.
But despite the storm’s intensity, no injuries were reported in Weston, and graduation at the high school went on as scheduled at 6 p.m., under a tent between the high school and middle school.
There were more severe problems from the same storm in nearby Bridgeport, where Mayor Bill Finch declared a state of emergency after a building collapsed, trees were uprooted, and a tractor trailer was blown over on Interstate 95.
The following day, the National Weather Service declared that an F1 tornado packing 100-m.p.h. winds had touched down in Bridgeport and caused massive damage to portions of the city.
Disaster crews from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were in Bridgeport on Monday, June 28, accompanied by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to assess the damages.
Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said she, too, is looking into whether the town would be eligible for FEMA aid.
Ms. Weinstein said as she drove through town the day of the storm, one minute it was clear skies, the next, the area was getting pelted with rain and wind, and just a few minutes later it was clear and calm.
Some residents on private roads complained that the town would not assist them in clearing trees, but Fire Chief John Pokorny said private roads are the responsibility of the homeowners who live on them.
“Private roads are just like driveways. We don’t clear trees from private driveways either. If there is an emergency call, however, we do everything we can to cut through so we can respond. Our top priority, though, is keeping main roads clear,” he said.
Mr. Ojarovsky said Weston’s dispatchers did a great job handling the high volume of calls received during Thursday’s storm because of the preparation they received handling a much bigger storm on March 13.
“The storm on March 13 was much more severe in Weston than this one, so our department was ready to handle the calls,” he said.
The communications center also received a number of unexpected calls during Thursday’s storm from residents in Wilton and Easton who were dialing 9-1-1 on their cell phones, but the calls were rerouted to Weston.
“It may have been that another system was overloaded so the calls came to us. We redirected the calls back to their local departments,” Mr. Ojarovsky said.
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