Flooded Roadways, Thousands Without Power After Severe Storms in Connecticut

The storms blasted the area on short notice, with the National Weather Service reporting the thunderstorms less than 20 minutes before they started to do damage.

by Tara O'Neill, Connecticut Post, Bridgeport / September 7, 2018

The city's first responders were busy Thursday evening after a line of severe thunderstorms ripped through the state, leaving thousands without power at the peak of the storms.

The storms blasted the area on short notice, with the National Weather Service reporting the thunderstorms less than 20 minutes before they started to do damage.

"With most storms there can be little or no warnings," said Scott Appleby, director of emergency management and homeland security in Bridgeport, Conn.

Several traffic lights were without power and roadways were impassable because of flooding at the height of the thunderstorms.

The best thing residents can do during storms like these is to remain calm and plan ahead, Appleby said. He said that planning should include an emergency kit with essential items.

Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez said Thursday's storms were rough, but that the city wasn't heavily impacted.

"The rain and the lightning were very intense but ... everything turned out to be OK," Perez said. "As far as I know, there were no reported injuries."

At the height of the storms, which hit the Norwalk area around 5:10 p.m. and slammed the Bridgeport area minutes later, Eversource and United Illuminating reported a combined 21,039 customers without power across Connecticut.

At its worst, Bridgeport had 3,397 United Illuminating customers without power. Shelton and Trumbull saw more outages, with 1,831 and 1,904, respectively.

Ed Crowder, UI's spokesman, said the outages were caused by lightning strikes and wind damage. He said at the peak of outages, UI had about 10,000 customers in the dark.

"UI and contractor crews have fanned out across our territory and are already hammering away at the outages. They'll keep working until every customer is restored," Crowder said around 8:45 p.m.

Stamford saw 3,868 outages and New Canaan had 2,099 outages, Eversource reported at the peak of the number of people without power. There were 289 Eversource customers in Greenwich without power as of 7 p.m.

Eversource had 11,000 Greenwich customers in the dark during an outage Tuesday that, for many, lasted into Wednesday morning. The cause of that outage is still under investigation.

"It is a very busy evening," said Eversource spokesman Mitchell Gross around 7:30 p.m. "The crews will be on the job as long as it takes. We have outages scattered across the state."

Gross said the storm brought wind gusts and lightning, and knocked down trees and branches.

"It's the trees; trees are the number one cause of outages," he said.

But outages weren't the only problem during Thursday's storms.

In Bridgeport, there are several areas prone to flooding -- including under the viaducts.

"Underpasses flood," Perez said. "But we're prepared, especially the officers that patrol those areas, that know those areas."

The intersection of State Street and Iranistan Avenue is one of many spots in the city that sees flooding during periods of heavy rainfall. And that was no exception Thursday night.

"There's probably 6 to 8 inches of water here," one officer told the dispatcher of the problematic intersection while the rain was still pouring down.

But Perez said several officers responded to the area, following protocol they're accustomed to during storms that bring flooding.

A lightning strike knocked some bricks off a building in the 1900 block of Main Street, fire dispatch reports indicated. Police said no one inside was injured.

The thunderstorms impacted travel, specifically Metro-North Railroad.

Power problems near Stamford and Westport led to delays up to 60 minutes on the New Haven line. These power problems near Stamford also caused delays between 20 and 35 minutes on the Danbury branch.


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