Gov. Dannel P. Malloy visited Branford post-Storm Nemo at noon today, noting the town was among the hardest hit in terms of snowfall and warning of additional complications from Monday's rains, in the form of roads flooding and weight added to snow-packed roofs.
At Fire Headquarters with First Selectman Anthony "Unk" DaRos, Malloy said a priority this week would be ensuring school buildings are safe from the potential of roof collapse. Schools were cancelled on Monday, with districts taking re-opening plans day-by-day.
"We're going to pound away at Superintendents to make sure their maintenance people are up on school roofs, clearing the drains and watching the structure itself," said Gov. Malloy. "I think it's a big risk; this rain gets on the snow, goes to the bottom and freezes, so you've got two or three inches of ice on the roof and then the snow. It becomes a real problem."
Snow from Storm Nemo "… dumped on us," DaRos told The Sound. "We had some places that were 35 inches. We had between 28 inches and 35 inches of snow in town."
Across the state, "…we got terrible snow," said Gov. Malloy. "Nobody got the level of snow we got."
As of Monday, Connecticut was the only one under presidential declaration of a statewide emergency due to Storm Nemo (announced Sun. Feb. 10).
"We filed very early for (a) direct assistance declaration (to) assist local governments, as well as state entities," said Gov. Malloy.
The declaration initially allows for reimbursement for storm-related expenses for a 48-hour period.
In Branford, money will help reimburse expenses including private contractors –at least a dozen were located and called in to remove snow on streets. DaRos noted town plows and bigger trucks were unable to push the snow off roads; adding many were dedicated to assisting with emergency responses during the storm; even getting fire trucks out of snow-bound situations.
"We had to dedicate all snow removal equipment to getting fire trucks out and unstuck. We had a lot of fire trucks getting stuck," said DaRos.
Branford Fire Chief Jack Ahern said the Governor is doing a "great job" for the town by securing the federal assistance.
"We're going to need money for overtime and equipment," said Ahern. "This year the fire department bought a plow (and during the storm) that plow was invaluable; it was everywhere, with ambulance and fire trucks. So these declarations are great. The governor's doing a great job helping us."
Branford responded to 110 storm-related emergency calls, including three roof collapses. Branford Chief of Police Kevin Halloran said the department maintained its ability to respond even as the blizzard hit hardest.
"It was very difficult at the beginning of the storm, having our officers respond, but we continued throughout the storm. We utilized SUV's to get back and forth," said Halloran.
The state-wide emergency notification system had a "couple of issues," during the storm, making Branford's B-Informed alerts, sent to subscribers by email, cell phone and home phone, "spotty" at times, said Halloran.
"It's a state-wide system and every municipality was having problems," said Halloran, adding they are being investigated and resolved. "One of the difficulties is that the community wasn't as informed as in past storms – not from a lack of effort on our behalf. With these storms, one of the biggest parts of our job is to make everybody aware of what's going on, so they can set their expectations as far as where the town stands."
Statewide, Gov. Malloy said storm response went well.
"CL&P got 75,000 people reconnected really quickly, and we did a very good job on the interstates and main roads," he said, adding Connecticut has "learned a lot" from recent storm events endured here.
In addition, Gov. Malloy noted, "…we had that human disaster out in Newtown. It's been a tough run. But we're hearty stock here in Connecticut."
DaRos said he felt residents coped well during the storm and that he hoped residents would heed the Governor's warning about the continuing danger of heavy snow on rooftops.
"Residents ought to be aware of all these flat roofs," said DaRos. "I think they should pay attention to this snow. It's very heavy, and it's only going to get heavier."