Hurricane Sandy has come through the area and although it was a force to be reckoned with, it did not do as much damage inland as had been anticipated.
Power has been restored to nearly the entire town of Suffield, and the weather forecast today is a bit more kind, although there is a chance that wind gusts could reach 48 miles per hour.
The opposite is true for Connecticut shoreline towns, where thousands were trapped in their houses overnight as the storm surge from Long Island Sound stretched further inland than some thought possible.
As for Suffield, the weather today is expected to be rainy with a high of about the mid-60s and not nearly as windy, according to the National Weather Service. Although it will be windy, it will be nothing like the gusts the region experienced on Monday.
The town’s emergency shelter is expected to remain open at the high school through this afternoon, as it is hoped that residents will be able to return to their homes, according to Emergency Management Director John Woods.
The shelter has been fully staffed and was available to residents and their pets overnight with about 30 safely inside by early evening on Monday. Dozens of volunteers and town employees manned the shelter and the emergency call center throughout the day Monday and overnight, fielding residents’ non-emergency questions.
While the town helped a handful of residents throughout the day at the high school emergency shelter and many ran to into Highland Park Market for last minute provisions, most residents waited out the storm in safety.
Children home from school for the two-day cancellation made the most of the mini-vacation playing games and hanging out.
The Guzzo family got out the good old fashioned Scrabble board.
"Gianna wanted to know why we picked an 'old person game,'" Kim Guzzo said of her fifth grader.
Others spent time getting ready for a Halloween they hope will happen Wednesday night, especially after the cancellation from the snowstorm in 2011.
Pumpkins were carved, sometimes in the dark of a power outage, and seeds roasted and toasted.
"My four-year-old decorated for Halloween," Laura Tinerella said. "My seven-year-old wrote and illustrated a 10 page book. She worked all day on it... for five hours!"
Although there were several power outages, only about 7 percent of CL&P customers were without power as of 11:30 p.m. Monday night. Tuesday morning that number had dropped to 3 percent, or about 210 customers as of 5 a.m., according to the Connecticut Light and Power website.
Woods said Monday that there was a vast improvement in CL&P response time to outages during Hurricane Sandy when compared with Tropical Storm Irene and the October 2011 snowstorm. He credited the municipality and utility company better communication and ability to work together for this improved. Woods said CL&P had a liaison ready to work with emergency management personnel and that a crew was stationed at the town highway department throughout the storm.
“When you prepare for things, you have a better chance of things running smoothly,” Woods said, adding that the company, town employees and dozens of volunteers took part in practice drills over the past year to help refine their response.
Woods also said that the addition of the new CodeRED emergency response system to the town’s tools to communicate with residents was a great success. Automated phone messages were sent out to 4,680 phone numbers alerting them to various items, such as shelter hours, generator precautions and help lines.
By mid-day Monday, no roads had been closed, but people were strongly encouraged to stay off the roads. Several businesses had closed, with only CVS being open during the mid-afternoon. The library and schools will remain closed today, but some town hall offices, including the Town Clerk's office, will be open again as of this morning.
As life returns to normal today, Woods cautioned people to be aware of their surroundings and take care. On the town’s website, the emergency management team offered these tips:
- DO NOT travel unnecessarily.
- IF YOU LOSE POWER use flashlights instead of candles.
- IF YOU see fallen wires call 860-668-3886.
- UNDER NO circumstances should you go near fallen wires.
- DO NOT operate electric generators in your home, basement or garage. Keep generators at least 20 feet from buildings. Use a CO detector.
- If you have lost electricity, make sure that your appliances are off so when the power comes back on a potentially life-threatening or property-damaging accident does not occur