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Friday, September 23, 2011

Patch on Hurricane Patrol

Patch on Hurricane Patrol:
Saturday evening tour around town as Irene creeps closer
By Mike Lauterborn
(Posted to 8/27)
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT --  Late evening Saturday, as Hurricane Irene beat a path from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, towards Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and New York City, Patch went out and about from the Post Road and shops downtown, to the beachfront and up to Fairfield University and the shelters at Fairfield Ludlowe Middle School to see what it could see. The tour followed an 8 p.m. Reverse 911 call from Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau, who urged everyone to sty in their homes, that tropical storm winds were approaching, hurricane winds would be arriving by morning and to expect long-term power disruptions. He concluded his message with the sentiment, “Be safe, stay home and be cautious.”

Here’s our report – and accompanying photos -- divvied by area and/or neighborhood:

Beach Area, approximately 10 p.m.
Minor tree debris and water pooling noticed on the roadways. Several stores and taverns, such as the Seagrape and pizza joint, at the intersection of Reef and Fairfield Beach Road, sandbagged. A number of Fairfield Police patrol cars in the neighborhood and patrolmen with flashlights on foot inspecting residences and the surf level. Most homes on Fairfield Beach Road evacuated – only a couple with signs of life. The ever-dependable 7-Eleven open for business, but partially boarded up.

Post Road, from Bob’s Stores to The Shack, about 10:30 p.m.
The parking lot full of cars, likely owned by Beach Area residents, at Bob’s Stores. Victoria’s Secret boarded up. Display windows at Ann Taylor’s Loft emptied. The windows taped in X patterns at businesses like Royal Cleaners, Mrs. Green’s, Cargo Bay and many more. Food purveyors like Colony Grill, The Shack and Dairy Queen still open for business. The latter had the message “Good Night Irene” scrawled across its front window. Many stores displaying small handwritten signs saying, “Sorry, closed early due to weather.”

Roger Ludlowe Middle School, site of official shelters for both humans and pets
The following rooms were repurposed for human and animal usage and being coordinated through a combined effort between the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the Medical Reserve Corps….

Choral Room – a dedicated movie room.
Cafeteria – Registration and dining area wherein pizza was being served
Band Rehearsal Room – Infirmary with several cots
Auto Shop – Pet shelter with several occupied pet carriers.
Gym – Shelter for some 50 people at the 11 p.m. hour

Interviewed at the gym shelter was the Oliveira family, who maintain a home near the train station. They had checked in at around 8 a.m., afraid of trees falling on their home, especially in the middle of the night. Said the family matriarch, Rita, “This is very comfortable, with good food and board games for the kids. I have no complaints.”

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