While state officials are worried about a storm surge of as much as 11 feet that could bring devastating flooding and elevated water levels in all tidal rivers and streams, Portland officials say they are less concerned about flooding along the Connecticut River than the damage Hurricane Sandy’s winds may bring here.
“We have very few people, very little businesses, along the river,” First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield said this morning. “We’ve already made a plan such that we don’t allow people to build along the river. We’re more concerned about high winds. People should not be out traveling. They should not be out walking because of the debris that can occur from wind.”
If you're seeking local information about the town's shelter, road closures or other storm-related issues, Bransfield said residents should check the town's website for updates. She also said the town at 6 p.m., today will issue a reverse 911 call to all residents with an update on the storm. For state information, residents should call the state's information line at 211.
Portland town offices closed at 11 a.m.today Bransfield said, after she told all nonessential workers to go home for the day. All essential personnel, firefighters, police and public works officials are on standby throughout the storm. She said she’s not sure when Town Hall and other public offices will open again and will make a decision on that as the storm progresses.
“I don’t know what the storm’s going to do.”
Portland schools are already closed for today and tomorrow and the town will open the shelter at the high school if widespread power outages occur, Bransfield said.
The town yesterday learned that CL&P is stationing a work crew in town to begin power restoration once the storm passes.
Portland has several low-lying areas that are prone to flooding when the Connecticut River rises, including the Portland Fairgrounds along Route 17A, as well as Tryon and Riverview streets. Route 17A in particular can flood out several times a year in heavy rains, Bransfield said.
Officials here were relieved to learn recently that Sandy will not bring as much rainfall as initial expected, she added, which could minimize the potential for flooding.
However, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has warned that the historic surge in Long Island Sound that is anticipated from Hurricane Sandy will send more water up the Connecticut River and other tidal waterways than those rivers and streams have ever experienced. He has cautioned residents living near such waterways to keep a close eye on the water level, especially tonight around midnight when the tide will be high and the surge is expected to be at its highest.