Danbury Storm Damage

Sean Adams/WCBS 880

'It's Like A War Zone Out There:' Connecticut Cleans Up After Macroburst During Intense Storms

May 16, 2018 - 11:03 am

BROOKFIELD, Conn. (WCBS 880/AP) -- Powerful thunderstorms that swept through Connecticut are being blamed for at least two deaths in the state and knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers.

A macroburst with winds of over 100 mph was confirmed in Brookfield, Connecticut, explained WCBS 880 Chief Meteorologist Craig Allen.

Allen explained that all thunderstorms have updrafts and downdrafts – the air goes up, forms the thunderstorms, and comes rushing down.

If the wind rushes down in a downburst, and it is about 2 1/2 miles in radius, then it becomes a microburst. If it is larger than 2 1/2 miles in radius or diameter outside of the storm, it becomes a macroburst.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says a man was killed in the city Tuesday when a tree fell on the truck he had taken refuge in to escape the storm.

“We had one other severe injury, and we have a lot of side streets, side roads that are closed; power lines that are down, trees – literally thousands of trees throughout the city are down, so we’ve got quite a lot of cleanup to do. It won’t be a matter of days,” Boughton told WCBS 880’s Michael Wallace late Wednesday afternoon. “It’s going to be really a matter of weeks that we get the place cleaned up and get all the power restored again.”

Meeanwhile, state police say a tree fell on a car in the neighboring town of New Fairfield, killing one person.
No names were released.

The storms brought down trees that blocked roads and forced school closures and delays.

Linda had spent the night in her car in a supermarket parking lot because she couldn't get home.

"I called 911 and they I said 'What's the plan?' and they said there is no plan, no one is coming, stay in your car," she said.

Sylvia abandoned her car and made her way home on foot.

"I went through the woods, I left my car," she said.

"We lost power, lines are down, everywhere trees on powerlines," said Stacey Killian of New Fairfield.

The day after the storm, it is still a struggle trying to get around.

"Need people clearing the tress. You know, there's a lot of lines down. There's a lot of roads, main roads that don't have anybody. If there is an emergency, there's no access to that, so we need to get people here to open up the roads," a man named Andy said.

Meanwhile, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy saw firsthand in Brookfield the damaged homes, crushed cars, splintered trees, and twisted wires.

“I do want to say quite clearly, this region seems to be the most adversely impacted,” Malloy said.

More than 90,000 customers of the state's two major utilities remained without power on Wednesday morning, most of them in the western part of the state. An Eversource spokesman says it may take days to get power back to everyone.

Malloy said restoration would “take a long time, just based on my own observation of the line of damage that exists.

“If you get it back quickly, you’re one of the lucky ones,” Malloy said. “I think there are going to be a lot of people that are without power for days.”

Out-of-state power crews have been pressed into service. Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn said in this neck of the woods, power is everything.

“Most people in this town have well water, so if you don’t have power, you don’t have water,” Dunn said.

The local high school has been turned into a shelter.

Boughton said city crews in Danbury have been working around the clock first to get roads open, and the crews will then work on other cleanup. Meanwhile, power supplier Eversource has called in extra crews, and there will be 11 in Danbury Wednesday night to help with power restoration.

Danbury has set up two shelters, Boughton said. At the Danbury War Memorial, people can shower and charge the electronics and cots have been set up.

At the Bill Williams Gymnasium at Western Connecticut State University, a special needs shelter has set up for those who need electricity for applications such as oxygen machines and other medical equipment.

“So those two places are for those individuals that have nowhere else ago,” Boughton said. “Otherwise, people are just going to have to wait it out, and eventually we’ll get to you and be patient.”

Joe GianFrancesco came down to his local supermarket, which is on backup power, to stock up on water, ice and other provisions.

"From what I can see, it looks like it's going to be some time before we get any type of power back, so we're a little nervous," he said. "Wires down across roads, trees, everywhere. It's pretty bad stuff. There's tres on houses, across cars. It's ugly, it's like a war zone out there."

He said western Connecticut needs help.

"We need an army of power people to bail us out, we're in desperate need," GianFrancesco said.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)