Storm cleanup could take months

Cleanup efforts from last week’s rainstorm are ongoing, and likely to continue for weeks or months, said First Selectman Vicki Tesoro.

“Many town-owned roadways, catch basins, and culverts are in need of immediate attention and repair,” she said. “Some of our roads suffered damage when large areas of asphalt were dislodged due to rushing water. Many catch basins and culverts are now debris-filled and must be cleared.”

In addition, town and school-owned fields and trails were damaged. And Trumbull High School has damage in the auditorium, commons, gym, band room, officers and hallways, she said.

The extent of the damage will make it impossible to do a special bulk pickup, she said. But the town transfer station will extend its hours until 2:45 p.m. Saturday, and will also open on Monday, Columbus Day, from 7 a.m. to 2:45, Tesoro said.

Tesoro also plans to meet with the town’s legislative delegation to see what state or federal assistance could be available. The town currently will not qualify for disaster relief, a decision made at the state and federal level, she said.

“We certainly inquired about it, but the answer is no at this point,” she said. “There’s no FEMA aid without a disaster declaration, but that doesn’t mean we stop trying.”

Tesoro is asking residents and business owners to send photos of their storm damage to the town’s Emergency Management Department to try and build a case for state relief.

Some of the photos she has seen already were eye-popping, she said.

“It was truly frightening,” she said. “To see a mail truck stuck in water with the carrier standing on top of it. And to find out that fire department had to break windows in Trumbull Center to get people out. That is frightening.”

One of those people who escaped a flooded business through a window is Duane Berg, who was inside the Trumbull Music Studios with partner Jeff Stokely when the rains came.

“It had been raining all day, but about 5 the river started rising and by about 5:20 our storm drain was bubbling over,” he said. “Within five minutes we were in a flood and water was over the curb.”

A few minutes later, water was nearly two feet up the studio’s door, and coming in fast. The weight of the water also made it impossible to open the door, he said.

“The fire department broke the window in the dance studio, and we went out that way,” he said.

Stokely said the two were too busy to notice the rising water at first.

“We were just trying to get everything off the floor,” he said. “We never even thought about evacuating until we saw the police cars outside.”

The two are still assessing the damage from the storm, but they, and some other businesses in Trumbull Center, suffered extensive water damage to the floors and walls, in addition to the loss of some student instruments. Stokely estimated the cost from the storm so far at between $15,000 and $20,000, but that could change, he said.

“Right now the acoustic tiles look OK, but they could warp from all the humidity,” he said. “The wood instruments don’t appear to be damaged, but who knows if a few months from now we find out they’re warped. If one piano warps, that’s another $20,000.”

Berg said the company’s business insurance isn’t covering water damage, and he was not optimistic about the possibility of town or state aid.

“We’re resilient, we do this for a living,” he said. “We had to kick ourselves into high gear, but that’s just another aspect of running a small business.”