Woodbridge resident Ariell Neill was minding his own business in his house on Amity Road Tuesday night -- watching storm coverage and eating popcorn.
"And I see outside the window," he said, "this 70-foot tree coming at my window."
He threw his bowl of popcorn in the air and ran out of the room before the massive fir tree came crashing into his house, tearing a hole in the roof and buckling the sheet rock on two floors.
"It was like a freight train hitting my house," he said, shaking his head. "Tree's gotta be a hundred years old."
Across Bethany and Woodbridge, trees were down -- many of them taking power lines with them -- and crews were busy throughout Tuesday doing their best to catch up with the damage wreaked by Tropical Storm Sandy. Representatives from UI and CL&P teamed up with town officials to survey the damage and do what they could to restore power.
"The first act they had to do was make it safe"
According to the Woodbridge Police Department, today was about safety -- opening up roads to emergency vehicles and life hazards. In Bethany, it was a similar story.
"They knew the first act they had to do was to make it safe," said Bethany emergency coordinator Rod White. As of about 8:50 p.m. Tuesday night, White said he estimated 90% of roads in Bethany were passable, thanks to CL&P crews working in tandem with town crews. "Right now it's all about clearing the roads and making them accessible. Then we'll move on to restoration."
As crews cleared roads, drivers navigated sometimes-unexpected closures, including at the intersection of Bethmour and Russell in Bethany. They faced closures on major thoroughfares, including a portion of Amity Road, and the intersection of Center Road and Amity Road. In Woodbridge, many drivers who found themselves blocked by the latter ended up in the nearby Blue Check Village Deli, asking for directions.
"It seems like this is the central station here," said Blue Check Village's Tom Lambrecht. "They're all asking for directions for how to get around because of all the road closures." Lambrecht said he was reassured to see state workers in and out all day, eating lunch between jobs.
"It's not like the last time"
In Bethany, CERT coordinator Clark Hurlburt was busy helping residents load up military-grade MRE meals and bottled water Tuesday afternoon. He said there ultimately hadn't been much call for a shelter -- residents seemed to be holding up fine, even the ones receiving the MREs.
"All the restaurants are open," he said. "A lot of the stores are open. It's not like last time when everything was closed down … We fared much better than some of the other communities -- especially the shoreline communities."
According to White, crews planned to work throughout the night in Bethany; in Woodbridge, police said firefighters and UI representatives would be out through Wednesday alongside restoration crews. While neither UI nor CL&P have made any announcement about timelines for restoring power, officials are hopeful that the process will be swift.
As of 10 p.m. Tuesday night, 63% of Woodbridge and 69% of Bethany were without power. According to officials in both towns, most throughways have been cleared, but drivers are still warned to use caution in the area.
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