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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fairfield Digs Out After Record Snow Dump

Fairfield Digs Out After Record Snow Dump:
Many Side Roads Still Impassable
(Posted to 1/12)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – Homeowners grunted, groaned and moaned Wednesday afternoon as they dug out from a snowstorm that dropped an estimated 20 inches of snow in the area. Those able to dislodge their cars found most main roads clear but many side roads still impassable.

Patch made a tour through the Beach Area to survey road conditions and speak with shovelers. One resident (who declined to give his name) at the corner of Charles Street and Reef Road, said, “I started shoveling with my son at around 10. We’ve been going back and forth for a good four hours. This really sucks, but it is what it is when you live on the East coast. It comes with the territory.”

Further south on Reef, Griffin Reidy looked exasperated. “This is the biggest job I’ve ever done by far. I’ve got little more than a short sidewalk and some space behind the trucks and it’s literally taken me hours. The biggest part strategy-wise and physically has been trying to find places to heave all the snow.”

The Grossos – brothers John, Mike and Joe and nephew Joe – were busy plowing a drive on a family-owned property near a still unplowed Reef Court. “We’ve been around the area. It seems some streets are perfect, while some don’t seem to have been touched,” said John. “The last time it was this bad was 1978. It all came down in a period of 8 to 9 hours. Amazing.”

Walking north on Reef Road was Paris Mygatt, 22, Ashley Guy, 18, and Pamela Yates, 56. They had been touring the Beach Area and Penfield Beach. “The amount of snow was impressive there,” said Mygatt. “No one was there except for us. The side roads don’t seem to have been plowed. We’re on Alden and it definitely wasn’t plowed. Sandy Way was also bad – we saw only footprints.”

Bud’s Deli at 714 Reef was open for business but had seen little foot traffic. “I just got here at 1 p.m. but my boss said it was pretty slow this morning,” said counterperson “Sam” Perce, 20. “It’s starting to pick up now – people have come in for sandwiches.”

Steve Yap, at the corner of Sandy Way and Reef, had just finished shoveling and was salting his front walk. “Sandy Way was definitely not plowed. The snow’s up to my kneecaps. I literally can’t leave in any of my cars and I’ve got an SUV and a four-wheel drive.”

Housemates Colin Callahan, 21, Chris Hurd, 21, and Justin Nusblatt, 22, had just begun digging out the drive of their lower Reef Road rental. “We just got the motivation to get out here and shovel,” said Callahan. “It’s a lot of snow, up to your knees. It almost seems like an impossible feat to dig out, but we’re slowly getting there,” said Hurd. “This stuff needs to go away ASAP,” said Nusblatt.

Near the Seagrape, Celeste Stranaghan, 30, was unearthing her brand new Toyota Corolla, of which only the windshield wipers were showing. “It’s pretty buried. I’m going to be out here a while. I wanted to dig it out before the snow freezes.”

Shoveling the walk at That’s the Spirit Shoppe, 740 Fairfield Beach Road, owner Kevin Pinto, 38, said, “We opened at noon. We’ve had a few customers, though most people are still shoveling out. People have been saying, ‘I just got out of my driveway.’”

Letter Carrier Michael Richardson, making deliveries on Rowland Road, had his work cut out for him. “Most of the streets have been passable except for some side streets, like Lalley Blvd. I haven’t been able to deliver in some areas. A lot of people have been out shoveling so we can get to their houses. This has been a tough day. Just getting into work was a challenge with clearing my own driveway.”

Happy to have the day off, Smith Street residents Bella and Finula Milici, 9 and 10 respectively, were doing what kids do on snowdays. “We built this cool hill to sled down. It took us a while. We’ve having fun and may walk around the area later,” said Finula.

Fairfield Socked by Snow

Fairfield Socked by Snow:
Unofficial accumulation 20 inches by 9 a.m.
(Posted to 1/12)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – By 9 a.m. Wednesday, a slow-moving storm that had entered the area from the southwest mid-evening Tuesday had deposited an unofficial 20 inches of snow. The white stuff continued to come down making visibility limited and choking local roadways. School had already been cancelled for the day and many area businesses had followed suit.

Braving the elements, Patch padded out along Reef Road, the Post Road and adjacent neighborhoods to take a reading.

Along Smith Street, drifts were halfway up front doors and garages and cars were all but buried. The road had gotten a quick plowing in the middle of the night but not since. The main connecting artery, Oldfield Road, had been cleared though, as had adjacent Reef Road.

Reliable 7-11 at 257 Reef Road had stayed open throughout the night. Its store lights were a welcoming beacon and store interior a haven for the few passersby. Gabby Isho, 7-11 manager, who had started his shift at midnight, said, “It was very slow through the night. It was mostly police, town workers, snow removal crews… all coming in for coffee and breakfast sandwiches. There were two guys stuck in the parking lot around 1:30, before our plow guy had arrived. I helped them get out. I haven’t seen this much snow in the past 10 years.”

Vic Gabinski, 58, and his son Lucas, 22, from Lalley Blvd., were trudging south on Reef. “I’ve been up since 4:30,” said Lucas. “He loves big storms and weather events,” said his dad. “I’d say this is the most snow we’ve ever had in Fairfield. We’ve walked to town and the beach. We’ve seen cars buried, mid-thigh drifts, 50-foot visibility. The rate of accumulation has been ridiculous – about four inches an hour.”

Lt. Mike Sullivan at Fire Station One on Reef, said, “The morning has been a real challenge. We had a report of a gas leak in the Barberry area and are having difficulty getting to the address. A lot of mains have been plowed but not the secondary roads.”

In preparation for the storm, Sullivan said, “We put tire chains on all vehicles and increased the manpower for each piece today. I believe another engine is also being added at Station Five (on Congress Street). The night wasn’t crazy, it just takes long to get everywhere. We can’t go fast with the chains.”

Across the street at the police station, all personnel had managed to report. With regard to any incidents during the night, Officer Ed Terrifay commented, “There were just a couple of medical calls, one minor accident and a couple of vehicles that were stuck in the snow. We’ve got tire chains on the patrol cars and all our all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles are on the road.”

As he spoke, a snow-covered Ann Street resident walked in reporting that, as she was headed to her job at Bridgeport Hospital, her car had gotten stuck on the I-95 on-ramp at North Benson Road. Terrifay put in a call to state police, which was reportedly very busy with calls and wouldn’t be able to respond for a while.

Making his way on foot up Reef, Ed Roman, a Millard Street resident, was heading to work in Stamford. He works at a continuing care retirement community and said, “We’re a 24-hour operation with clients that require sub-acute care, so I have to be there. I’d rather be at home having hot chocolate with the kids of course, but you do what you have to do.”

Coming up behind him, Robert Becker, who works for a financial firm in midtown New York, was rushing for a train. “I’m trying to catch the 8:20, headed to the city, gotta work if I can.”

As Becker trudged across the Post Road and up Sanford Street, two police cars, two ambulances and three plows passed.

At his Reef Road home, England-born Chris Grantham struggled with a snowblower to clear his driveway. “It’s never been like this in England. I’ll be on this for another hour I’d guess. I don’t think anyone’s going to be doing much today.”

Around the corner at his home on Oldfield, John Weber made his best shoveling effort. “It’s a lot of snow. The good news is the main snow’s light and fluffy, but where the plows go, it’s crunchier. The kids would love to go out sledding if we can get out.”

Weighing in from home where he was shoveling out himself, First Selectman Ken Flatto provided an official summary of the situation. “The snow removal crews have been out since 11:30 last night. We have 35 heavy pieces out there. They’ve plowed just about every street twice, but within an hour or so, drifts cover them again. They’re trying to keep up, but it’s a struggle. Meanwhile, many state-maintained roads only have one lane clear.”

Looking ahead at the day, Flatto said, “The snow is petering out so we should be able to make a much bigger dent soon. Town buildings are closed until 1 p.m. and there will be a skeleton crew this afternoon. We are urging people not to go out if they don’t have to.”