Region getting back to normal, slowly

A Norwich Public Works payloader fills a dump truck as it clears snow from Central Avenue in Norwich Monday. Crews from throughout the region worked for a fourth straight day to finish the daunting task of clearing the roads.
A Norwich Public Works payloader fills a dump truck as it clears snow from Central Avenue in Norwich Monday. Crews from throughout the region worked for a fourth straight day to finish the daunting task of clearing the roads. Sean D. Elliot/ The Day Buy Photo

Town officials across the region feared that flooding, roof collapses and more outages would occur Monday as temperatures soared, bringing rain, fog and new challenges to a state still digging out from up to three feet of snow.

But most of those concerns went unrealized except that many streets remained treacherous, if not impassable. Near freezing temperatures caused several crashes around the state during Monday's morning commute, but as the day wore on, precipitation turned to all rain and caused some flooding of local roads, which still had snow and debris-clogged storm drains.

As evening fell Monday, temperatures were expected to drop again to near-freezing and below, bringing a second round of black ice and a dense fog warning forecasted for throughout the night. Several car crashes occurred in the region, but none were very serious, area police departments reported. Snow removal and road treatment continued through the evening in most municipalities.

All area schools and most municipal offices were closed Monday. Schools are canceled again today in New London, Norwich, East Lyme, Lyme-Old Lyme and Waterford with Stonington having a 90-minute late opening.

On Monday, overworked public works departments, public safety personnel and town mayors and first selectmen continued day four of near-round the clock work.

Hospitals said business was brisk during the storm, but not far above an average weekend.

Local police departments reported low arrest numbers through the weekend, starting Friday as the storm first hit. By Monday afternoon, departments in New London, Groton, Norwich, Ledyard, East Lyme, Stonington, Waterford and state police in Montville made a combined 12 arrests, a fraction of what is normal during any four-day period. Most involved domestic violence or were driving-related.

No new roof collapses were reported by Monday evening, but the rain added weight to already load-bearing roofs.

Power goes on, then off again for some

By Monday night, just 173 of Connecticut Light & Power's more than 1.2 million customers were without power, down from a peak of about 39,000 during the blizzard.

Power outages took a sudden jump Monday afternoon in North Stonington and Ledyard after nearly all of the town's CL&P customers had seen their power restored.

In North Stonington, 762 CL&P customers, or nearly 30 percent of the town, were in the dark around 3:45 p.m. The outages in the town, which peaked around 70 percent during the blizzard, had been down to just 2 customers during the morning. By 8 p.m. just 42 customers were without power.

A CL&P spokeswoman said wires were reported down in North Stonington along Route 2. Theresa Gilbert said the situation there affected 850 North Stonington residents and about 84 in Ledyard.

"It's possible they were also affected by the blizzard, but these outages today, we're not sure of the cause," Gilbert said.

Ledyard saw a more modest jump, from five in the morning to 84, or 1 percent, without power Monday afternoon. Those customers remained without power about 8 p.m Monday night.

Stonington with 11 customers and Lyme with 12 were the only other area towns Monday night with double digit outages.

In Old Saybrook, nearly 1,000, or about 15 percent of the town's CL&P customers, were without power for some time Monday. All had been restored Monday night.

Hospitals see mostly 'typical weekend'

About 80 Lawrence + Memorial employees stayed through the blizzard, some who were filling in for others couldn't get to the New London hospital, and others who couldn't get home, spokesman Mike O'Farrell said Monday. In a few cases, the hospital sent its four-wheel drive vehicles to pick up key employees.

Some patients of the emergency department ended up stranded at the hospital for a few hours during the storm, waiting in lobbies, the cafeteria and other areas after they were discharged.

Volume at the emergency department was "normal to high" during storm, with several patients coming for injuries from car accidents Saturday night and Sunday. The main hospital never lost power, but the Pequot Health Center in Groton had to go on generator power from 7 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday.

The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich saw "a very typical weekend," at its emergency department, with few storm-related incidents, spokesman Shawn Mawhiney said.

Statewide, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy reported a total of seven storm-related deaths, none in eastern Connecticut.

'People need to slow it down'

At the end of the day Monday, the DOT expected to be able to send 60 front loaders to communities around the state needing help with removing snow off narrow streets. Monday evening, CL&P and Yankee Gas announced they would donate 40 employees and 50 pieces of machinery, including backhoes, dump trucks and trailers, to help with the cleanup effort.

Kevin Nursick, DOT spokesman, urged drivers to continue to use caution. Many highway shoulders are blocked with snow, and visibility is limited around some intersections due to snow piles.

"People need to slow it down," Nursick said.

There is also concern about storm drains getting blocked by snow, said Dwayne Gardner, spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. When storm drains are blocked, melting snow and rainwater runs directly into rivers and streams without debris getting filtered out first, he said. Homeowners can help municipal road crews by clearing any storm drains near their properties, Gardner said.

Temperatures are forecast to be mostly above freezing during the daytime this week, leading to more snow melt.

s.goldstein@theday.com

j.benson@theday.com

Pedestrians navigate the road along Franklin Street in downtown Norwich Monday.
Pedestrians navigate the road along Franklin Street in downtown Norwich Monday. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo
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