Irene's high winds, heavy rain batter Connecticut
As Tropical Storm Irene moved north Sunday it battered Connecticut with strong wind gusts and rain. State officials urged residents to stay inside and off the roads, warning that the back half of the storm was bringing extremely high winds and that dangerous conditions persisted with downed power lines and trees.
Much of the rainfall was in the western part of the state, which got 8.3 inches of rain, state officials said. The Bridgeport power substation was submerged. Damage to cellphone towers were causing telecommunication problems.
Power outages have now surpassed the state’s record, which was set by Hurricane Gloria in 1985, according to Connecticut Light & Power. The utility reported on its website that 48% of its customers -- almost 600,000 -- lacked power shortly before 2 p.m. Gov. Dan Malloy estimated that there were 700,000 homes statewide without electricity.
There were so many residents trying to access the outage map at the utility's website that the page would not load. Over Twitter the power company invited customers to text "Outage" and their ZIP Code to get information about outages in their town, but a few minutes later tweeted: "We’re having technical difficulties due to the amount of texts we’re receiving. Thanks for your patience."
Towns where 90% to 100% of customers were without power included Bethany, Bethelhem, Bolton, Branford, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Chester, Clinton, Cornwall, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Eastford, Essex, Franklin, Glastonbury, Griswold, Guilford, Hampton, Hebron, Killingly, Killingworth, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Lyme, Madison, Marlborugh, Middlefield, Monroe, Montville, Morris, North Stonington, Old Lyme, Plainfield, Preston, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Salem, Scotland, Sprague, Sterling, Stonington, Tolland, Voluntown, Westbrook, Weston and Woodstock.
The Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways were reopened, but state officials said drivers should expect extensive delays because of debris. Tractor trailers were being permitted to use I-95.
Malloy planned to hold a briefing on the damage at 6 p.m., which will be streamed online.
-- Maeve Reston in Mystic, Conn.
Photo: A flooded home in Washingtonville, N.Y. Credit: Paul Kazdan / Associated Press