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Norwalk Prepares For ‘Frankenstorm,’ Decision Pending On School Closings

Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia and Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy discuss the city's preparations for Hurricane Sandy.
Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia and Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy discuss the city's preparations for Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

This story was updated at 8:55 a.m. Saturday to add school information.

NORWALK, Conn. – As Norwalk residents brace for Hurricane Sandy to hit Monday and Tuesday, Mayor Richard Moccia wants people to know that the city is prepared for what is to come.

Moccia and Norwalk Emergency Management Deputy Director Michele DeLuca called together about 50 city officials and department heads Friday afternoon in Norwalk City Hall to go over contingencies and last-minute preparations for the storm, which is expected to dump several inches of rain on the region and bring strong winds.

“The track of this storm is still a unpredictable,” Moccia said. “But the consensus is that we’ll definitely have a weather event.”

The storm is expected to begin impacting Connecticut weather late Sunday and could last for 36 hours. A decision on whether to close Norwalk schools on Monday or beyond, depending on the severity of the storm, will be made Sunday, according to Norwalk Board of Education member Mike Barbis. Brien McMahon High School will open Monday as an emergency shelter and as a cellphone and device-charging station, Moccia said.

Additionally, the city will serve two hot meals per day at the school for residents, emergency workers and shelterees, with breakfast from 7 to 9 a.m. and dinner from 4 to 7 p.m.

“Providing extended services like meals is a lesson we learned from Hurricane Irene last year,” Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy said.

The Norwalk Police Department is not pulling its emergency boats out of the water, Chief Thomas Kulhawik said, but the city is trying to find another location for the Island Belle paddle boat that is docked at Veterans Memorial Park.

At Cove Marina in East Norwalk, general manager Steve Babbitz said his phones “have been ringing non-stop” since news broke about the storm. But his staff is not pulling additional boats out of the water, he said. Over the last couple of months, the marina has been scheduling dozens of boats to be removed from the water, and he said he can’t stop that process to attend to last-minute removals.

But he said that the marina’s basin, with a small opening to open water, acts as a protective barrier.

“We’re considered a hurricane hole,” Babbitz said, adding that the marina will have about 385 boats tied to slips in the water during the storm. “We’ll make sure all the boats are properly tied if they haven’t been already.”

The No. 1 thing residents can do is take the reports seriously and prepare for the storm, Moccia said. But he added, if possible, also clean out the leaves from storm drains near your home.

"We have 10,000 storm drains in the city, and we can't get to all of them in two days," he said.

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