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Top Meriden News - Only One Outage-Related Theft Reported

We're providing updates throughout Monday on what's happening in Meriden in the aftermath of Irene.

Update 8:44 p.m.

The city's main priority now is to clear trees and debris so that CL&P can get power to as much of Meriden as possible, City Manager Lawrence Kendzior said Monday.

As of 7 p.m., there were still 12 places in the city with wires and trees down, out of the 40 reported from the storm. Kendzior said the city expects to fix seven of those by tonight, leaving five to six to be fixed Wednesday.

Some stoplights at major intersections were still out of power through much of Monday. the intersection of Broad Street and East Main came back up late in the afternoon Monday.

"It’s amazing to me after some of the things I’ve seen today that there hasn’t been an accident," said City Councilor John Thorp at Monday night's City Council Meeting.

He told residents that if a stoplight is out they shouldn't just drive through it, but stop and check and then proceed.

Police reported only one incident of outage-related theft. Burglars were caught Sunday night at grocery store at 238 Gravel St, Police Chief Jeffry Cossette told department heads at a 4 p.m. Emergency Management meeting. Police have increased coverage on the overnight shift, Cossette said, to step up patrols near businesses without power.

About half a dozen trees fell in town on Monday – well after the storm – according to Kendzior. He blamed the rain-soked soft ground.

Four of the city's water filtration plants are running on generator power, according to Utilities Director David Lohman. City water is safe to drink. The Water Department is also closely monitoring the Siver Lake Pump Station sewage treatment plant, which is also on an older generator and is processing about 30 million gallons of water following the storm though it is only designed for 12 million gallons, according to Lohman.

The city's e-mail system went down Sunday, so city workers and officials have not been receiving e-mail from their city addresses. Kendzior said it could return tomorrow. The issue is not storm-related but due to upgrades.

Kendzior said he would not know until next week how much Irene would cost the city in overtime, equipment usage, etc... Some of those costs will likely be reimbursable by FEMA. The city was reimbursed 75 percent of the costs of dealing with last year's unprecedented snowstorms. 

 

Update 4:36 p.m.

School is canceled Tuesday, according to District Superintendent Mark Benigni. City officials believe it is unlikely power will be restored to all the elementary schools that are currently without electricity in time for school to begin.

"I’m not going to have eight schools start and four not on the first day of school," Benigni said. 

Roger Sherman, Israel Putnam, Casimir Pulaski, John Barry, and Thomas Hooker each don't have electricity.

 

Update 2:11 p.m.

The power is out at five public elementary schools in Meriden right now, Assistant School Superintendent Michael Grove said Monday afternoon.

Roger Sherman, Israel Putnam, Casimir Pulaski, John Barry, and Thomas Hooker are all without electricity. The district will likely decide by 6 p.m. Monday whether or not to cancel classes Tuesday, Grove said. They are waiting to see what progress CL&P can make by that time. Officials have a 3 p.m. call with CL&P representatives, meetings with other city departments following that, and a conference call with nearby districts.

Power outages at most schools are also affecting stoplights near them, which is a safety concern for the district, Grove said.

If the district does cancel classes, Grove said, it would cancel them for the entire district. "We’d want everybody to start the same day," he said.

Monday was supposed to be the first day of class for Meriden public school students, but the district canceled it Saturday because of the coming storm.

Maintenance staff removed all frozen foods from the freezers at the five elementary schools without power Sunday night and have put them in a rented freezer trailer at Maloney High School. All the food in the schools refrigerators had to be disposed of, Grove said.

Grove added that there was no damage to any of the schools, and that despite the flooding of streets near Lincoln Middle School, the school did not flood.

 

Update 12:31 p.m.

South Curtis Street and Yale Avenue are both still closed, as are many side streets because of downed trees and wires according to Public Works Director Bob Bass. More than 40 downed wires have been reported in the city, Bass said, up from yesterday's estimates of 30.

He said crews – about 40 people from the Departments of Public Works, Utilities, and Parks – are working on both the city's East and West sides clearing trees and other debris from streets.

Bass said he is hoping all streets will be opened by the end of the day, but can't guarantee that.

"We want to get all the streets opened up as soon as we can, we're working as hard as we can," Bass said.

The crews have been on since 6 p.m. Saturday and have "taken maybe a grand total of 3 hours worth of cat naps," Bass said.

The city's transfer station on Evansville Ave. is closed today so that staff can help with the cleanup process. It will be open Tuesday from 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. for residents to bring their own brush down, and then resume normal hours (Wed. 10:30 a.m. - 2 p.m., first and third Sat. 7:30 a.m. - noon, Monday 7:30 a.m - 11:30 a.m.).

The station will accept brush that is no longer than 4 feet and thicker than 6 inches in diameter. Leaves in paper bags can be left at the station, leaves in plastic bags must be dumped out and the plastic bag removed.

Bass had no word on when electricty would be restored to the remaining 12,091 customers out, but city crews are working with CL&P crews to make that happen.

Crews are also returning to streets they cleared partially to make sure traffic could get through Sunday, Bass said.

"It’s been a great cooperative effort. I think the people that have been out there have done an absolutely spectacular job," he said.

Areas that flooded in town Sunday, like that of Lincoln Middle School, have for the most part dried out, Bass said, and Harbor Brook's water level is also decreasing.

 

Original Story Monday, 10:43 a.m.

She wasn't as fierce as predicted, but Hurricane Irene, which was downgraded to a tropical storm before she hit Central Connecticut,

High winds knocked down large trees and branches throughout the city, which took power lines with them. About 30 power lines were downed Sunday, officials at Meriden's Emergency Operations department reported. As of 10:09 a.m. Monday, 12,203 or 44 percent of Meriden customers were still without power according to CL&P. Berlin was 65 percent without power, Cheshire 28 percent and just 4 percent of Southington was in the dark.

Officials will start assessing damage to the city today – buildings damaged by trees, flooding. Check back with this story, we'll update you on what's happening around town as soon as we find out.

To read our play-by-play coverage on yesterday's storm, including information on the folks who were affected by trees falling into their homes and more click .

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