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Hurricane Sandy: Norwalk's Bell Island Pump Stations Flood

A truck bypassed barriers blocking off a section of Water Street Monday as tidal surges ahead of Hurricane Sandy flooded the street.
A truck bypassed barriers blocking off a section of Water Street Monday as tidal surges ahead of Hurricane Sandy flooded the street. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

NORWALK, Conn. – Sewer pumping stations on Bell Island in Rowayton were flooded as of Monday due to storm surges from Hurricane Sandy, and residents of that area are asked not to use their toilets.

Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia said during a press conference at police headquarters Monday that 10 of the city’s sewage pumping stations are at risk of being compromised, particularly large units on Old Trolley Way, Sammis Street and Connecticut Avenue. Those units are running – the Sammis Street unit on power from an emergency generator – and a decision will be made sometime Monday afternoon whether to temporarily shut down Norwalk’s wastewater treatment plant.

If that happens, there is a risk of sewage backups in some neighborhoods around the city, officials said. Not all neighborhoods would be affected because many use gravity feeds to discharge wastewater.

“It’s touch and go right now,” said Norwalk Public Works Director Harold Alvord.

Several streets in the city were already experiencing flooding early Monday afternoon, particularly in areas south of Route 136, which are flood prone, and Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik said one family, including their pet, in the Harbor Shores area had to be evacuated by boat Monday morning.

No power outages were reported in Norwalk as of 11:30 a.m., Moccia said, but the city’s utility companies – South Norwalk Electric and Water, Third Taxing District and Connecticut Light & Power – all have crews at the ready.

“Conditions will deteriorate rapidly this afternoon,” said Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy. “Traveling around the city will be very dangerous, so we’re recommending that everyone stay home or get to the emergency shelter.”

As of Monday, 80 people were at the emergency shelter at Brien McMahon High School, and it can hold 450. The shelter will serve hot breakfasts and dinners for the duration of the storm. In case of an overflow, Norwalk High School will be used as a second shelter.

Norwalk public schools, which were scheduled to be closed Monday and Tuesday, will also be closed Wednesday, according to Moccia. Interim School Superintendent Tony Daddona made the decision to close Wednesday today, Moccia said.

Additionally, all activities at Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now for Monday and Tuesday have been canceled, and Norwalk City Hall was closed at 11 a.m.

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