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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Marpe on Storm: ‘Town Dodged Bullet’

By James Lomuscio

With winds shifting to the east, less snow than expected, no power outages and virtually no coastal flooding, Westport and the region dodged the bullet of what had been forecast as an historic blizzard expected to cripple Southwestern Connecticut, First Selectman Jim Marpe said today.

WestportNow.com Image
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe confers today with Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury at the Emergency Operations Center at Westport Fire Headquarters. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“I can say that we dodged the bullet compared to what we expected 24 hours ago,” said Marpe from the town’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at Fire Headquarters. “The governor a few minutes ago lifted the travel ban on local roads in Fairfield and Litchfield counties.

“Another good thing is that there were no power outages, and virtually none in the state,” he added. “That must be the most important bullet we dodged. When you lose power and it’s 20 degrees out, that presents challenges, which fortunately we did not have to face.

Marpe said that instead of the expected two to three feet of snow, today’s totals would be far less.

“I’m sure some people would suggest it was an overreaction,”  he said about warning and travel bans, as well as today’s closing of Town Hall and the Westport Public Schools. “But if that storm had been 15 miles to the west, we would have had two feet of snow.”

Fire Marshall Ed Zygmant noted “it was a quiet night,” except for one I-95 accident that required hospital transport.

“The thing that saved us was the wind shift; it tracked more to the east,” he said. “We were fortunate. We did have tides higher than normal, but the flooding was very minimal near Canal Road.”

He said that the region is only looking as “a few more inches” accumulation throughout the day, and that the main roads remain clear.

Zygmant said the EOC was double-staffed throughout the night and assisted by Westport Rotary and Sunrise Rotary volunteers working the phones in shifts of three.

While a travel ban has been lifted on local roads, Marpe urged residents to stay put while the Department of Public Works continued to clear arterial roads. He did suggest that residents with fire hydrants in front of their homes clear snow from them.

Marpe took the opportunity to thank the town’s emergency responders, Public Works Department, Rotarians, and other town staff. He also credited Sue Pfister, director of the Westport Center for Senior Activities, for offering storm workers a place to sleep and for providing them breakfast.

Marpe said Town Hall will be open Wednesday, and that he will have a storm update following a 10:30 a.m. statewide conference call with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state emergency operations staff.

Meanwhile, he said those who want updates can tune into Fire Inspector Nathan Gibbons’s radio broadcasts from the EOC on WWPT-FM 90.3.

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Posted 01/27/15 at 09:54 AM  Permalink



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