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Stonington — With 60 percent of homes and businesses here without power as of noon and temperatures expected to dip into the single digits tonight, the town expects to open the emergency shelter at the high school early this afternoon.
Officials at the emergency operations center said this morning that before they can open the center, they have to clear snow from the high school parking lot and then transport Red Cross volunteers to the high school.
With roads still closed, residents who need shelter will be able to call the center at 860- 599-7583 or 599-7584 and police officers in SUVs will bring them to the shelter.
Because of this, First Selectman Ed Haberek encouraged residents without power to first seek out friends and relatives with power before calling for a ride to the shelter.
Numerous downed trees and wires have made roads across town impassable including major thoroughfares such as North Main and North Water streets south of Route 1, Jerry Browne Road at Mistuxet Avenue and River Road at Rivercrest Drive.
In all there are 110 reports of downed trees and wires and 25 blown transformers.
Police captain Jerry Desmond said that during the night calls reporting power outages and downed trees and wires flooded the police department communications center.
“Our dispatchers did a great job handling them,” he said.
Haberek said a large number of CL & P crews are currently working to repair a major substation and power line that feeds the town.
In addition, he said wires are down and covered by snow, some in wooded areas. In those areas he said it may be days before customers in those areas have power restored. He said CL & P should have restoration estimate available later today.
“This is like Hurricane Sandy with a super snowstorm,” he said.
After the October hurricane 95 percent of the town was without power and it took almost a week to restore the entire town.
Police Chief J. Darren Stewart said residents need to be aware of the fact that where they are shoveling of children playing there could be downed power lines covered in snow.
“The best thing people can do is to hunker down for a few days and enjoy your company,” he said.
While the roads here are technically closed, a large number of plowing contractors were out this morning clearing driveways and parking lots. Route 1 was passable this morning with four-wheel drive.
During the night, Stewart said police cruisers were unable to get through the heavy snow so police had to make use of three sport utility vehicles and the animal control truck to respond to calls. On medical calls, high department plows cleared the way for ambulances and police.
Stewart said a Pawcatuck woman who twisted her knee, fell in the snow and could not get up was then struck by a falling tree limb. She escaped serious injury.
Emergency Preparedness Director George Brennan cautioned people with direct vent furnaces to make sure they clear snow from the vents.