Thousands wake up without electricity; some roads still impassable

A downed wire lies across Geddes Terrace in Waterbury, and a utility pole at the Burr Street intersection that snapped is being held upright by the wires. Andrew Larson Republican-American

Residents are waking up to the wreckage from Tuesday’s severe weather.

The storm, which brought heavy winds and torrential rain, killed at least two people in Connecticut, one in New Fairfield and another in Danbury.

John Bagioni of Fax-Alert Weather Service believes a tornado likely touched down in the Southbury and Oxford area, and possibly near Brookfield.

It will take a day or two for the National Weather Service to determine how much of the damage was from a tornado funnel, he said.

In Southbury, nearly the whole town remained without power mid-morning Wednesday. Traffic lights were out and traffic was moving at a crawl.

Most stores were closed, but Chatfield True Value Hardware opened early to help people looking for supplies. Customers were shopping in darkness and only cash payments were being accepted.

The store sold out of chainsaws two hours after it opened Wednesday morning. It’s expecting a delivery of more chainsaws later today, and will receive additional chainsaws and generators Thursday. Grills were also flying off the shelves.

Manager Charlie Berger said the store typically extends its hours after a severe storm.

“We’re just trying to help out,” Berger said.

Bagioni classified the storm, as “high-end severe weather outbreak.”

It was caused by the convergence of three atmospheric features – a cold front, increasingly warm temperatures and a low-level air mass, he said.

He reported that many towns experienced hail.

On Wednesday at 9:45 a.m., 98 percent of Southbury lacked electricity, according to Eversource. At the same time, roughly 1 percent of Waterbury was in the dark.

The part of the state between Southbury west to the New York line appeared to be hit especially hard. More than 10,000 Eversource customers in Danbury, or 28 percent of the Hat City, lacked power at 9:45 a.m.

The driver of this car was OK after a tree fell on it during the storm in Brookfield.

Many school districts cancelled classes. Some roads remained impassable Wednesday morning, due to downed wires and fallen trees.

Brookfield had some of the worst damage in the state. Police Chief Jay Purcell said during a press conference early Wednesday that ATVs were the only way to get through blocked roads.

During the storm, a woman was injured by a falling tree on Brookfield’s Still River Greenway, officials said. She suffered broken bones and crawled to the police department to get help.

Crews were working until 3 a.m., doing house-to-house well-being checks and working with Eversource to clear roads. Towns in Litchfield, Hartford and Fairfield counties provided mutual aid. About 160 personnel from 20 different departments were helping in Brookfield.

In Waterbury, traffic signals were out from the entrance of Interstate 84 west on Union Street all the way to Pearl Lake Road. City Director of Operations Joseph Geary said before 10 a.m. that staff had not yet tracked the exact source of the problem. It could be an underground issue related to the storm and flooding, he said. Temporary stop signs have been erected at intersections.

As of Wednesday morning, a portion of Geddes Terrace in the Town Plot neighborhood was closed due to a downed tree on the road. Chipman Street Extension at Oronoke Road was also closed due to a downed utility pole. The city was waiting for Eversource to respond.

Woodbury First Selectman William Butterly Jr. said Transylvania Road and part of Route 47 were closed due to trees that fell onto electrical wires.

The town overall fared relatively well, he said, but the southwest corner near Southbury was hit hard.

“The problem is we don’t have power,” Butterly said. “Some trees are down and we can’t touch them until Eversource shows up.”

Power is out at the Woodlake Condominium complex, Butterly said. One unit had a tree come through the roof. Butterly said he was hoping to get a generator going at the complex later today.

“Right now, everyone’s in pretty good spirits,” Butterly said. “I’m afraid after going without a shower or brushing their teeth for 12 hours, people will get pretty upset.”

The Southbury Senior Center was open for those needing emergency assistance or power for oxygen tanks. Butterly and Senior Center Director Loryn Ray planned to take shifts there overnight. A few residents stayed the night.

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, Woodbury was down to 83 percent of Eversrouce customers without power. Region 14 schools are closed because Nonnewaug High School, Woodbury Middle School and Mitchell Elementary School have no power.

Bethlehem seems to have been relatively unscathed, with 2 percent of Eversource customers without power.

On Wednesday morning, Winsted Town Manager Robert Geiger reported that everything was pretty much back to normal. Power was nearly fully restored and Eversource reported less than 1 percent of town was without power. Roads were passable and Route 8 reopened early in the morning; schools opened on time.

Train service on the New Haven Line of Metro-North Railroad, including the Waterbury branch, which was suspended Tuesday night, resumed Wednesday morning.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection reported damage at several state parks: Sleeping Giant in Hamden, Wharton Brook in Wallingford, Kettletown in Southbury, Putnam Memorial in Redding, Chatfield Hollow in Killingworth and Squantz Pond in Danbury.

Anyone without power can call Eversource at 800-286-2000. Residents are advised to avoid downed wires and to assume they’re live. Never drive a vehicle over a downed wire.

Contributing to this report were staff writers Kurt Moffett and Michael Puffer, Torrington Bureau Chief Bruno Matarazzo Jr. and Southbury Bureau Chief Johanna Snyder.

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