Tuesday update: Schools closed today & tomorrow, 80% of town without power

Trumbull has begun the cleanup after Hurricane Sandy slammed into town yesterday, bring winds over 70 miles per hour, snapping trees and knocking out power to most of town.

First Selectman Timothy Herbst, at a press briefing Tuesday morning, stressed that there was still a danger to human life from downed power lines and falling tree limbs.

"Virtually all the major roads in town are blocked, and more than 60% of all the roads in town have some sort of obstruction," Herbst said.

Winds of up to 20 miles per hour were in the forecast through Wednesday night, and trees stressed by the storm could still fall, Herbst said. The conditions made it mandatory that residents avoid venturing from their homes except in emergencies, a point he made abundantly clear.

"The State of Emergency remains in effect, and everyone needs to remain indoors," Herbst said. "Everyone needs to get the hell off the roads. Now. This isn't a party. This isn't over. People have to get off the road."

Town officials estimated more than a dozen trees crashed into houses during the storm. Police Chief Tom Kiely said officers responded to numerous calls throughout the storm, but did not need to rescue any residents from their homes. Kiely said conditions grew so dangerous during the storm that officials pulled emergency responders from the roads.

"We couldn't even see power lines down across the roads, and guys were calling in on the radio saying there were trees cracking and snapping above their heads," Kiely said. "We told them to get into garages until it calmed down a little.

Public Works Director John Marsilio said the town recorded winds over 75 miles per hour during the storm, one of the highest wind speeds recorded in the state.

Most of the town remains without power, as UI estimates 82% of Trumbull customers are dark. Some may get power back sometime today as the two Bridgeport power stations shut down during the storm may return to service. Marsilio estimated the shutdown affected about 4,000 Trumbull customers, though the actual number of restorations could be lower than that if there are downed wires between the substation and the customer.

The Center at Priscilla Place remains open as an emergency shelter and four families rode out the storm there, according to Herbst. The center will remain open for residents who need a place to stay. Also, Hillcrest Middle School will be open Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for residents to use the shower facilities. Bring a towel and toiletries and minors must be accompanied by an adult.

All public and parochial schools in town will be closed Wednesday and possibly longer. Further annoucements to come. Finally, officials said there would be word later today about whether the town would postpone Halloween trick-or-treating.

"If conditions aren't safe, the kids shouldn't be out walking around," Kiely said. If the town decides against allowing trick-or-treating, Herbst said there would be alternate arrangements.

"We'll make sure the kids enjoy Halloween safely," he said.