Municipalities have struggled mightily to keep up with the amount of snow Mother Nature dumped on Connecticut this weekend, but Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the state is doing everything it can to secure additional resources on their behalf.
The first test of how well they did will come Tuesday morning when commuters return to cities like Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven, each of which have struggled to clear roads.
In Hartford, Mayor Pedro Segarra declared in a 7:41 p.m. press release that 90 percent of the roads had been cleared, but some side streets near the state Capitol remained untouched as of 6:30 p.m.
In New Haven, police were stationed near the border of the city to urge motorists to stay out of town.
Malloy advised municipal leaders to continue plowing throughout the storm, but there were some that didn’t heed his advice.
Admittedly, Segarra sent out a statement on Saturday explaining that plow operations stopped overnight in the Capital city because of poor visibility. In that same release he requested more help from the state, which was already spread thin clearing highways and state roads.
But Malloy declined to point fingers or get dragged into a debate over municipal shortcomings.
“There’s going to be a lot of time for them to second guess themselves,” Malloy said. “I gave them advice and the advice was to plow throughout the storm.”
Regardless of what happened this weekend, Malloy said help is on its way.
Twenty-eight National Guard soldiers from Pennsylvania will arrive Tuesday to help support the 250 Connecticut soldiers already on the ground and another 25 National Guard will be coming in tonight with six High Mobility Engineer Excavators. The state owns 10 of the excavators and they are in use throughout the state at the moment.
An Air National Guard RED HORSE unit, also from Pennsylvania, will arrive tomorrow evening with 50 airmen and multiple pieces of equipment. RED HORSE is an acronym for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers.
The state Department of Transportation has a complement of 150 payloaders. Of those, 60 were to be handed over to municipalities at the end of business Monday to help in clearing local roadways, according to Kevin Nursick, spokesman for the Department of Transportation.
There are currently 632 state-owned plows and another 200 private contractor plows working on clearing state roads. Most of the work Monday involved getting payloaders out onto the highways to clear the right travel lanes and shoulders. At the moment, Malloy, who traveled the state on Monday, is warning that there are still inconsistencies on the highways and drivers need to drive slowly.
Ron McLellan — president of the Connecticut Employees Union Independent Local 511 that represents some of the 1,250 personnel who drive the plows and maintain the state’s buildings — said many of drivers in his union haven’t been home since Thursday. He said they have been working 17-hour shifts with 3 hour breaks during which they are catching a few minutes of sleep on cots in the garage.
Malloy said some of the drivers were allowed to go home last night to get a full night of sleep before returning to work this morning.
With power restored to almost all of its customers, Connecticut Light & Power and Yankee Gas are lending about 50 pieces of snow removal equipment — including backhoes, dump trucks, and trailers — to the state along with 40 employees. Those crews will be dispatched to Hartford, Waterbury, and Meriden tonight.
Aside from the roads, 16 roofs have collapsed and seven residents have died as a result of the storm.
“Clearly the weight of the rain and melting snow is having an impact,” Malloy said during a 6 p.m. briefing Monday.
The governor is urging local elected officials and school leaders to inspect school roofs, which generally are flat, prior to opening school buildings.
“At the very least make sure the drains are clear and working,” Malloy said. “We don’t want a tragedy to occur in one of our school buildings.”
Tuesday is a Lincoln’s birthday so state offices and courts will remain closed, but colleges and universities, including the University of Connecticut, will be open.