July 22, 2010

The morning after

In the wake a powerful punch from Mother Nature Wednesday afternoon that tossed trees to the ground, ripped off roofs and flooded streets, the city plans to seek disaster relief to help cover the cost of dealing with the mess left behind.
Mayor Art Ward said this morning the city was “very, very, very fortunate” that nobody was injured or killed as the storm swept across Bristol shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The mayor said the American Red Cross sheltered about 10 people last night at a hotel in Terryville after the roofs were torn off their homes on North Main Street.
Surveying the damage across town this morning, Ward said he was surprised how concentrated most of the destruction was. It mostly followed a corridor across the central part of the city that included Rockwell Park, Federal Hill, Memorial Boulevard and Frederick Street, the mayor said.
Power remains out in parts of town, including Lake Compounce. Ward said utility crews are trying to get electricity restored to the park in time for it to open normally at 11 a.m. today.
The park’s website – lakecompounce.com – will be updated to inform patrons when the power is restored.
Ward said he doesn’t know if the rampant talk of twisters or tornadoes is on the mark, but the storm was “definitely different” from anything he’s seen before.
“It definitely has to be classified as something other than a storm,” the mayor said. “When you look at the trees and how they remained after being impacted, literally trees were twisted. Some were just uprooted” while others were “cut off at the bottom, almost like a chainsaw” and still others cut off near their crests.
Ward said the “real darkness” at the height of the storm as well as the stunning amount of rain and hail was unique, too.
Given all the trees that came down, Ward said, the city is lucky that nobody got hurt or killed. Trees hit more than a few homes and vehicles, but didn’t clobber anyone in the process.
The mayor said he had no idea something so unusual was coming.
Ward said he was talking to a woman in his office shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday when he noticed that that it was growing dark outside his window. Then the rain began falling with growing intensity.
The mayor said it kept coming down harder and getting darker. When the hail began falling, too, he said, “I think we’re in trouble here.”
In no time, Ward said, the phones began ringing and sirens filled the air outside. Power went off at City Hall.
Ward said he soon declared a state of emergency and opened the emergency operations center about 5 p.m. to coordinate the city’s response.
About 5:30 p.m., Richard Ladisky, the city’s emergency management director, rushed into the police station. He said he’d been called in to help with the crisis, which he didn’t yet know much about.
Ward said he stayed until 11 p.m. and then returned this morning at 6 a.m. One officer on hand at the command center this morning had been working since 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the mayor said.
“I really want to express my appreciation to all of the city workers and the citizens. Everybody was absolutely superb. I did not hear one single complaint,” Ward said.
He said he has been especially impressed that the first question from almost everyone to him has been to inquire whether anyone got hurt. That says something about the community’s character, Ward said.
In the first real test of the city’s emergency preparedness since he took office in 2007, Ward said, “Everything went off without any hitches.”
Ward said he called for state and federal assistance Wednesday to get the wheels in motion for financial and other assistance for anyone seeking help. The city will have overtime costs and its own repair tab, the mayor said.
“It’ll cost us some time and money and labor to get back to normal. But Bristol has always responded well in times of emergency,” Ward said.
I'm not sure who emailed the picture above last night, but thank you for sharing it!
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the town crew and who ever else is cleaning up... within 1/2 hr this morning tree limbs were gone off the Boulavard and some surrounding side streets.