NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia reiterated his call for the city’s coastal residents to begin evacuating Sunday before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy on Monday, but he stopped short of making evacuations mandatory.
Moccia said he has not called for mandatory evacuations because of the difficulty of enforcing such orders, and he is confident that residents of flood-prone areas were preparing for the storm.
“If you’ve ever flooded before, you’re likely going to flood again,” Moccia said during a news conference Sunday afternoon at the city’s temporary fire department administrative offices next to City Hall on East Avenue.
Storm surges are expected to hit 16 feet along Norwalk’s coasts and waterways, and police and fire personnel have been dispatched to the Washington Village housing complex on Water Street to help with potential evacuations there, Moccia said. Parts of the street have already begun to experience flooding.
One area of concern for the city is whether to temporarily shut down the city’s wastewater treatment plant if flooding threatens to overwhelm the system. Moccia said the city will make that decision Monday.
Norwalk public schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday, according to interim Superintendent Tony Daddona.
“We have to look at the safety of our students and staff, and with the magnitude of this storm, we decided to close the schools for Monday and Tuesday,” Daddona said.
A decision has not yet been made about closing schools Wednesday, but Daddona said he will monitor the storm and could make a decision as early as Monday. “We will give parents sufficient notice to make arrangements. We know we have a lot of working parents who need that information as early as possible.”
The district’s school buses, typically parked on Wilson Avenue, will be moved to Norwalk High School, Daddona said, out of flood concerns.
Additionally, custodians will report to their schools Monday to check for leaks and any other facility-related issues.
“The custodians will help us monitor the situation and let me know which schools are without power,” Daddona said.
The temporary shelter at Brien McMahon High School, which has a capacity for 450 residents, will be open Sunday at 5 p.m. National Guard troops have been stationed at the Norwalk Armory on New Canaan Avenue for assistance as needed.
“The state will make a determination on which communities the troops will be deployed in,” Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy said.
The length of this storm, estimated to be 36 hours, could cause severe damage to the city and the region, Moccia said.
“This is not a game, not a sight-seeing tour. Please take this storm seriously and stay off the roads until flooding has subsided and you get an ‘all clear’ indication,” he said.