Malloy asks President Obama for federal declaration of emergency

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Black Rock Turnpike near Valley Road in Easton had not been plowed as of Saturday evening. Photo by Carrie Twersky

Gov. Dannel Malloy said on Saturday he has asked President Barack Obama for a federal declaration of emergency to help with the costs associated with cleaning up the storm that hit the state.

In a Saturday night press briefing, Mr. Malloy said he had spoken with leaders of the impacted municipalities and told them to keep track of expenses in case there is federal money for reimbursement. This declaration would allow for federal assistance, including equipment and power but not federal money yet. That is something that will be determined later and that is why Mr. Malloy said he is having municipal leaders keep track of those expenses.

In a letter to the president. the entire Connecticut congressional delegation including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes urged him to grant the declaration Mr. Malloy had requested.

“Our first responders, snow removal crews and the hundreds of state and local employees working in emergency operation centers throughout the state are to be commended for their incredible response to this record-breaking storm,” the delegation said in a prepared statement. “We wholeheartedly support Governor Malloy’s emergency declaration request and will fight to ensure that Connecticut receives the federal aid it needs to respond and recover from this storm.”

Southeastern Connecticut was impacted heavier than this part of the state. Unlike previous storms, this time electrical service has not been interrupted and Easton remains fully in service according to UI. Because of that the town has not had to open its emergency shelters or any warming centers. Elsewhere in the state though that is a main concern for Saturday night with temperatures expected to be in the range of zero to 12 degrees, according to Mr. Malloy, with wind chills making it feel “substantially below zero.”

People in need of information about warming centers are urged to call 211. As of 6 p.m., there were approximately 35,000 CL&P customers without power and 220 customers from United Illuminating.

The state remains in a state of emergency and Mr. Malloy said it would “for some period of time.” The statewide ban of travel was lifted at 4 p.m. but Mr. Malloy urged people to remain at home. He said the reason the ban was lifted was neighboring states had lifted their bans and that meant an influx of traffic, particularly commercial, into Connecticut including fresh stock for grocery stores and gas stations.

“I want to stress this, do not go on the roads,” Mr. Malloy said. “Stay off the roads. They are not as safe as we would like them to be. Secondly there is a lot of blowing snow and thirdly there are a lot of entrances and exits that are still not open so your ride is not going to be very comfortable. Let me put it this way, discourage your loved ones from going out on the road. Do not have your children take the car out tonight. Do not have your loved ones take the car out tonight. There’s really no reason to do that.”

He later added that people with snowmobiles and ATVs should not use them on the roads either, citing the limited space and potential dangers. Mr. Malloy said there is only about 2/3 capacity available on the highway with no breakdown lanes available. He stressed this was illegal and dangerous and residents should not do it.

According to Mr. Malloy, there have been more than 3,000 calls to the state police since Friday morning and about 600 of them involved accidents. There now appear to have been five fatalities in the state connected wit the blizzard. The National Guard has deployed close to 400 troops to Connecticut to assist.

Mr. Malloy had earlier said that he would make state plows and work crews available to municipalities in need of help as soon as state work was done, but so far that has not been able to be granted due to the sheer volume of work on state roads.

“It is highly unlikely that we’re going to be able to lend much effort if any effort to that until at least after the Monday morning commute,” Mr. Malloy said. “We have a gigantic job ahead of us. In fact restoring our highway and route system is probably 10 days worth of work. Some equipment may become available on Monday but there’s precious little assistance we can lend.”

Metro North has been able to get some of its trains going and said that it anticipated going to a regular schedule for Sunday but only for trains going from Stamford to Grand Central Station and back. Train service between Stamford and New Haven, including the branch lines, remains suspended until further notice. People were urged to visit www.mta.info or call 511 for further details. Mr. Malloy said he did not believe that Metro North would be able to have a regular schedule for those suspended areas before Monday morning but that has not been confirmed by the MTA. New Haven’s railyard remains covered in about 36 inches of snow, causing the problems.

 

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