By Tyler Woods
Michael Handler, director of New Canaan's Emergency Operations Management, was thankful that the town did not have any structures fires during and after Hurricane Sandy "because the roads are impassable and I don't even know if we'd be able to get to them."
"We still have a good 40 more hours before all the roads will be passable. That's not even safe, just one lane cleared and passable," he said.
No storm-related deaths or injuries were reported, said Handler, but seven people needed emergency shelter Monday night. Three of them were from a house that sustained severe damage, two were from another house in similar condition, and two were a mother and daughter who were trapped in a car on an impassable road between live wires. All of them were taken to the police station and then transported around 11 p.m. to the Lapham Center, which had been outfitted as a shelter, with food and cots, Handler said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 6,000 customers of Connecticut Light & Power, or 72 percent of the town, were without power. Those numbers were stable through the afternoon.
As for property damage throughout town, Handler said the best he could say was, "No idea, tons,"
First Selectman Robert Mallozzi, who drove around town on Tuesday, said the damage looks worse than Hurricane Irene of a year ago, though public buildings fared well.
"Certainly I saw damage greater than Irene ... I think the devastation is pretty bad. [Selectman] Nick Williams and I toured homes today, schools, the library; none of the town's infrastructure was damaged much at all. Only the Powerhouse Theater was damaged at Waveny. There was tons of tree damage at Waveny," he said.
Seven CL&P line crews, composed of two workers each, were active in New Canaan on Tuesday, said Handler. He said the town had the entire Department of Public Works working with CL&P, which was more people than CL&P could even use. He said the work could only be done as fast as CL&P could work.
"We can't send guys to work on live wires. Once wires are safe, it only takes minutes to move a tree," he said.
Handler said the town has been prioritizing where it wants to put its resources.
"The waste treatment plant, Silver Hills, Waveny Care Center. We haven't even assessed the schools yet if that tells you something," he said.
Wednesday's Halloween will be postponed and altered this year, but it is not clear in what way yet, Handler said.
"There's absolutely no way we could have trick-or-treating tomorrow. There's downed wires all over the place," he said, adding that the town will think of a replacement activity with which kids will be happy.
School is canceled on Wednesday, according to Mallozzi, but was unsure about Thursday. Decisions are being made day by day, he said.
"One saving grace is that the infrastructure of town is intact. Gas is being pumped. The library is open. During Irene, there was no power in the center of town. Supplies will reach the town of New Canaan. It certainly will be a relief to citizens that can get out of their driveways," said Mallozzi.