The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)


Lamont declares emergency as state and region recover

- By Peter Yankowski and Nicholas Rondinone

The worst of the remnants of Ida swept through Connecticu­t early Thursday, drenching areas already over-saturated with recent rain, causing massive flooding — killing a state police trooper — and cutting power to thousands while shutting down rail service.

Once a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall in Louisiana earlier this week, Ida barreled up the Northeast late Wednesday into Thursday, sparking tornadoes — including seven in Philadelph­ia — and killing dozens in Connecticu­t, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvan­ia. The deaths included a 2-yearold child who drowned in a flooded New York basement.

In Connecticu­t, Brian Mohl, a 26-year state police veteran, was the state’s lone fatality. Mohl was killed early Thursday after officials said his cruiser was swept away by floodwater­s in Woodbury.

The torrential downpours produced the most rain Connecticu­t has experience­d since Tropical Storm Floyd in 1999, according to Gary Lessor, the chief meteorolog­ist at Western Connecticu­t State University.

Some areas in Connecticu­t, including Fairfield, New Haven and New London counties, saw almost 7 inches of rainfall. Seymour saw 8.72 inches — the highest amount recorded in the state, Lessor said.

Gov. Ned Lamont declared a

state of emergency late Thursday morning, his office said. The declaratio­n came hours after similar announceme­nts by the governors of New York and New Jersey.

“The filing of this declaratio­n will help provide state and local emergency management officials with the necessary tools to aid the impacted areas in safely recovering from this record-breaking rainfall that we received overnight,” the governor said in a statement.

The storm caused as many as about 20,000 outages in Connecticu­t early Thursday that were reduced to several thousand by nightfall.

President Joe Biden pledged federal support to states affected by Ida, as well as for western states affected by wildfires.

“My message to everyone affected is: We’re all in this together. The nation is here to help,” Biden said during a news conference on Thursday.

The president noted more rain fell in New York Wednesday than typically falls throughout the entire month of September, and a flash flood warning was issued for New York City for the first time ever.

The intensity of the rain late Wednesday night led the National Weather Service to issue its first flash flood emergency in New Haven and Fairfield counties, a rare warning that flooding was imminent and posed serious danger.

The flooding dramatical­ly slowed travel on Thursday. The MTA suspended all Metro-North and Long Island Rail trains, and said only limited bus and subway service would be available.

Lamont said a wash out of train tracks in Darien seems to be the main obstacle in getting Metro-North back up and running in Connecticu­t.

“That could be for another day or so,” Lamont said.

“Down in Fairfield in particular, that’s where the biggest hit is,” Lamont said, adding that state transporta­tion officials said it could be fixed either late Thursday or Friday. “These are, they are saying, 500-year storms. The amount of water that drops in an hour, five-plus inches, nothing is ready for that. That’s what resilience means. It was just a word a couple of years ago. Now we know what it means.”

As bright sunny skies shone Thursday morning, towns and cities across Connecticu­t appeared to have gotten a handle on the extent of the flooding.

State police said their received 621 calls for service between 6 p.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. Thursday during the height of the storm. Troop H in Hartford received the most calls of the 11 troops with 90 calls. State police, however, were not able to provide informatio­n about the types of calls they received.

Bridgeport’s dispatch center reported more than 200 calls for service during the storm. Many of these calls were related cars stuck traveling on the flooding roads. First responders helped with 20 water rescues as well as stranded vehicles submerged in water at 45 locations, the city said.

Roadway flooding on a section of Interstate-95 south in Rye, N.Y., just over the border in Westcheste­r County, caused traffic to come to a standstill as far north as Stamford Thursday morning, traffic camera footage showed.

In many municipali­ties, officials said vehicles were stuck in deep water through the worst of the storm overnight.

 ?? John Stofira / Contribute­d Photo ?? Major rain from Ida washed out a cart path at TPC River Highlands and left a gas pipeline and railroad tracks suspended in the air.
John Stofira / Contribute­d Photo Major rain from Ida washed out a cart path at TPC River Highlands and left a gas pipeline and railroad tracks suspended in the air.
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