(Updated 6 p.m.) As much as three feet of snow blanketed parts of Connecticut Saturday morning, making roads impassable, causing power outages, and five fatalities. As the day progressed, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy lifted a travel ban, but asked residents to stay off the roads as much as possible.
State police have responded to 3,000 calls for assistance and with temperatures expected to reach zero Malloy asked people to call 211 if they need assistance finding a shelter.
At an 11 a.m. briefing, Malloy said a Prospect woman in her 80s was snow blowing the end of her driveway when she was hit by a motorist. The vehicle did not stop and the police are investigating the incident. A 49-year-old man in Shelton died Saturday morning when clearing snow from his driveway. The specifics about the other three fatalities is unknown, but they are storm-related.
“While we are lifting the ban on travel this afternoon at 4 p.m., I still want to urge residents to stay off the roads if at all possible,” said Malloy. “Crews are out clearing roadways as we speak, but the fact is we are going to feel the impact of this storm for some time. The longer we can keep traffic out of town centers and off of our highways, the more effective our recovery effort will be.”
On his way to the armory Saturday, Malloy said he drove past at least three stranded cars on Capitol Avenue, but couldn’t say exactly how many there were across the state. He said making roads passable will be the goal throughout the day so that’s why he’s asking motorists to stay off the roads for the remainder of the day.
“One of the biggest problems we are facing is stalled automobiles, trying to dig them out and tow them away,” Malloy said.
He said he has applied for disaster assistance from the federal government and that municipalities should track their expenses in case the state is able to get the disaster assistance it is seeking. He did anticipate being able to lend the state’s snow plowing fleet out to municipalities any time soon.
If granted, an emergency declaration will provide for direct federal assistance, including possible snow removal equipment and personnel, power generation, and other commodities. An emergency declaration does not provide federal disaster funding. Because it appears that most if not all counties have received record or near record snowfall, it is anticipated that a preliminary damage assessment will be conducted to determine if those counties are eligible for a major disaster declaration.
Connecticut’s Congressional delegation sent a letter to President Barack Obama Saturday urging him to sign the declaration.
According to the National Weather Service, Madison got 32 inches, Waterbury got 24 inches, and Hamden got clobbered with 36 inches.
In New Haven, the historic storm dumped 34 inches of snow on the city, trapping emergency vehicles. Mayor John DeStefano phoned in from Dublin Saturday morning to urge New Haveners to stay off the roads.
The National Guard arrived at 2:30 a.m. to help New Haven’s cleanup efforts. CT Transit bus service and Metro-North train service was suspended Friday night. Limited Metro-North train service was back up and running Saturday evening, and Malloy warned he doesn’t believe full-service will be restored by Monday especially for stations north of Stamford.
On Saturday evening, about 35,000 of Connecticut Light and Power customers mostly in the southeastern portion of the state are without power. United Illuminating was reporting that about 226 of their customers in their 17 towns were without power.
Malloy will hold another briefing Sunday at 6 p.m.