Blizzard Sweeps Guilford

After two (give or take) storms of the century in two years, Guilford residents were as ready as could be expected in advance of the Feb. 8 start of Blizzard Nemo, which brought more than 24 hours of snowfall, leaving almost three feet of snow and closing many roads for days.

"Overall, it was the largest storm we've seen in many years, particularly when you look at the amount of snowfall that fell within a 12-hour period," First Selectman Joseph Mazza said.

Where this storm differed from its recent predecessors was significant. While Irene and Sandy knocked out power for days on end, outages peaked on the day of the storm at just 30 percent, which Connecticut Light & Power had down to just three percent the next evening-which was fortunate for home-bound residents, as road access was limited for most until three days after the storm.

About eight outside contractors were hired to supplement town crews and add heavy equipment that could handle the heavy snow accumulation.

"Our guys worked around the clock with limited rest. It's something we hope we don't have to go through for a long time again. They did an exceptional job," Mazza said. "I'm especially pleased with the performance of the Public Works Department and all of our emergency services and our outside contractors-they did a fantastic job."

At press time, Mazza declined to give a figure for snow removal costs in advance of a Board of Selectmen meeting.

From a business perspective, local businesses were dealt a heavy blow. Road closures meant lost sales for most businesses, and even when roads re-opened, parking was a major issue for customers seeking open shops.

At least one local business had it a bit better than most. Page Hardware & Appliance Co. on the Green had to close on Feb. 9 due to storm conditions, but opened Feb. 10 to assist residents with snow-related equipment.

"We missed one day because we were all trying to dig ourselves out and then after that we were well stocked with most everything people needed," said shop owner Andrew Page. "On Sunday and Monday [Feb. 10 and 11] we were very busy, but it was all snow-related items...By Wednesday it started going back to normal."

The combined impact of Nemo and Sandy will also have long-lasting effects on students and families. All Guilford Public Schools were closed on Feb. 8 and remained that way until re-opening Feb. 14 with a 90-minute delay. Because of this, a few calendar changes went into effect. Students and staff had a regular school day on Feb. 19 (previously a vacation day) and will have school on Thursday, March 28. The last school day and Guilford High School Graduation will now be June 25.

While businesses took a hit, vacations have been postponed or canceled, and piles of snow remain two weeks later, Mazza put the storm response in context.

"During this period, our emergency service people answered all the calls they had. We didn't have any fatalities or major injuries, we got to everyone who needed assistance, and in some cases we had to plow our way in to get to those people," said Mazza. "We did assign a payloader for the Fire Department and the Fire Department also equipped some of their brush-fighting vehicles with plows...I thank everyone that was involved in the efforts."

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