Norwich – About three dozen people and pets moved into the Kelly Middle School shelter throughout the day Monday, as Hurricane Sandy worsened in the late night hours across the city, knocking out power to more than 5,000 Norwich Public Utilities customers.
Power outages are scattered throughout the city, with concentrated pockets in Greeneville, along Hamilton Avenue, Cherry Hill, West Town Street and Yantic Lane and the rural Canterbury Turnpike-Scotland Road areas.
City officials have closed Chelsea Harbor Drive and Falls Avenue near Norwich Harbor at 8 p.m. due to flooding from high tide. Tidal water from the Thames River was the city's only flooding concern, stranding crews at the Norwich sewage treatment plant on who were "sheltered in place" at the Falls Avenue facility, city Public Works Director Barry Ellison said.
About 35 officials from numerous emergency response agencies, city and school officials and representatives from local health and social services agencies spent a long day Monday at the city's Emergency Operations Center at NPU headquarters at 16 S. Golden St. A map of the city was projected on a large screen showing locations of power outages and the cause – downed trees, wires or snapped utility poles.
Because winds remained lower than 40 mph for much of the day, NPU crews were able to address many smaller outage problems. That changed after 6 p.m., when winds picked up and city police and utilities officials started receiving reports of trees crashing into houses, utility poles catching fire and trees blocking roads.
Utility crews were forced to secure scenes for safety and wait out the storm before making repairs, NPU spokesman Michael Hughes said.
Norwich fared pretty well as of late Monday, officials said, with no reported injuries and the usually flood-prone Yantic River remaining within its banks. Emergency Management Director Gene Arters said more than 10,000 sandbags were distributed – the city ran out – at the start of the storm to businesses and residents.
City Hall offices and city schools will be closed today.