Friday nor’easter pummels Darien, area with high winds, flooding
It wasn’t a snowstorm like Wednesday, but a winter nor’easter, that caused just as much havoc in Darien and the surrounding area beginning Friday morning. It left 10% of Darien’s Eversource customers without power for most of the weekend and caused dozens of road closures Friday into Saturday.
At one point, a tree fell across all four lanes of the Post Road near Nearwater Lane across from the Edward Lawrence funeral home.
The state Department of Transportation was still processing the tree on Saturday morning.
Darien Police responded to dozens of reports of wires and/or trees down throughout town. A wire down on Tokeneke Road burned for hours. (See video here.)
Eversource responded to the wire late Friday afternoon.
Though other schools in the area, like those in Ridgefield and Redding, closed Friday, initially Schools Superintendent Dan Brenner said he expected Friday to be a normal school day.
However, as the storm progressed, Brenner later announced schools would be dismissing one hour early due to “high winds, excessive rain, potential flooding and potential for accumulating snow.”
By Saturday morning, 790 Eversource customers or 10% remained without power in Darien after a nor’easter hit the East Coast Friday.
Strong winds knocked down trees and wires into the night on Friday in Darien, blocking various roads and causing sparking wires.
Some roads remain closed Saturday morning as cleanup efforts continued.
"We expect the vast majority of our customers to be restored by Sunday night at 9 p.m. For a small number of customers in the hardest hit areas, like Greenwich and Stonington, restoration efforts may continue until the later evening hours Sunday,” Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross told The Darien Times Saturday morning.
On Saturday morning, 40,383 Eversource customers or 3% remained without power in Connecticut.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said as of 5:30 a.m. Saturday, Darien’s Department of Public Works had cleared all roads that had trees with and without wires.
“There were some locations that still had wires down. Line crews should be here,” Stevenson said.
Metro-North reduced service Friday night after 10 p.m. but said service was back to normal by Saturday morning.
On Saturday, Darien Police issued a statement on storm recovery, saying “the Town of Darien has sustained significant storm damage over the past 24 hours.”
“There are several locations in which downed trees have severed power lines and caused property damage. Currently the Police Department and Public Works Department are working closely with Eversource in an attempt to restore power to the area beginning with high priority locations first,” the statement said.
It also listed a dozen Darien streets that residents should avoid as they were still blocked Saturday morning.
The entire parking lot of Pear Tree Point Beach was filled with water on Saturday morning, all the way back to Darien Boat Club. A Darien police officer was stationed at the beach to ensure the many onlookers stayed out of the water.
See video of the flooding here:
This body of water is actually the parking lot of Pear Tree Point Beach and Darien Boat Club - still flooded after yesterday’s nor’easter. Two cars remain. Winds are still howling here. - Susan Shultz video pic.twitter.com/YQCxS6MUmB
— The Darien Times (@DarienTimes) March 3, 2018
A huge tree came crashing down on a car on Long Neck Point Road on Friday shortly after Pear Tree Point School dismissed early for weather reasons.
Pear Tree business manager, Noni Higgins, was one of the last to leave and was driving down the street when the hit her car according to Debbie Rucci of the school.
“Fortunately she was unhurt and freed herself by crawling out the back of the car, but the car was totaled. The tree missed the roof of the car by inches and we who were there realized how lucky she’d been,” Rucci said.
Both Darien Historical Society and Darien Ice House had no power causing a program to be postponed and the FCIAC boys hockey final game was moved from Darien to Greenwich.
On Monday, Eversource said crews have replaced more than 550 utility poles and strung more than 100 miles of new overhead lines, work continues around-the-clock making the necessary repairs to get every customer back online.
“These final outages are more complex, take additional time to complete and may require assistance from a private electrician or contractor. Lineworkers are going to each of these individual locations to assess what additional equipment or effort may be required to make repairs,” Gross said in a press release.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said “last week’s nor’easter presented more problems than most of us anticipated given the widespread nature of the damage.”
“Our DPW and police were prepared and responses were well-executed. DPW worked alongside line crews from Eversource to clear trees in wires and open blocked roadways focusing first on those roads that were blocked to emergency vehicles,” she said.
“This work is called ‘make safe’ and is the critical first step in emergency response. Only after ‘make safe’ work is completed can our staff and our utility partners move on to restoration and cleanup efforts,” Stevenson said.
When high winds snap trees and utility poles and down power lines, Stevenson said the process for restoration must be methodical to insure safety for residents and responders. “Eversource, like our emergency responders, are prohibited from responding to anything but a life-safety situation when winds top 30 mph. This was certainly the case for a good bit of time on Friday into Saturday,” she said.
“Restoration begins with areas that are the most densely served and continues until the last individual problem is addressed. This normally takes at least three days in a storm like last week’s storm,” she said.
Power was out briefly Monday morning at Darien High School but was restored.
With cleanup nearly complete from Friday’s storm, a significant snowstorm is predicted to hit the area Wednesday into Thursday, which Stevenson said, the town is preparing for.
“Residents must also be prepared and understand that, while frustrating, they may lose power again. Snow is always fun for our kids but I do want to caution that when our DPW plows are out, parents need to make sure kids are safely away from roadways,” Stevenson said.