Letter: Hurricane Sandy Cleanup Continues In Norwalk

  • Comments (21)

NORWALK, Conn. The Norwalk Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Send letters to norwalk@dailyvoice.com.

To the Editor;

A few residents brought the issue of downed trees and debris remaining on streets to my attention earlier this week. The city of Norwalk DPW crews are working to remove debris as fast as they can. Super Storm Sandy has affected all of Fairfield County and its impact has been particularly extreme in Norwalk. Both inland and coastal areas were affected by the storm surge and high winds. There were well over 1,000 trees down in the city alone. Obviously, many trees went through power and communication lines, causing an extended state of emergency.

That state of emergency has been lifted, and the work to clean up the debris has begun. The first order of business was to de-energize live wires and remove trees that were blocking roads – and this has been completed. Hundreds of blocked roads were opened, but simply by “cut and shove” methods. Once roads were made passable, and electricity had been restored by CL&P, a more involved series of actions to return us to normalcy have begun.

An interesting point for Rowayton residents, while removal of trash is normally the responsibility of the 6th Taxing District. In this case, due to the nature of the storm and debris collecting in the public right of way due to an “act of God,” the city is acting to remove the bulk of this debris. Bags placed at the curb filled with flood-related garbage have been and will be collected by AFK Carting.

AT&T and Cablevision are responsible for their wires in the same manner as CL&P is for theirs. Once service is restored, these companies have, at times, been somewhat less than diligent in removing dangling or downed wires. The city has notified these companies that it is in their best interest to do so before snowplows catch them and rip in-service wires behind them.

Given the large number of trees down in the city, the time to complete the clean-up is still a number of weeks.

The bottom line is that for issues to be responded to, they need to be reported. Outages, as always, should be reported to CL&P at (800) 286-2000. For city-related issues, notify the city of Norwalk’s Customer Service Department at (203) 854-3200, via http://www.norwalkct.org/forms.aspx?FID=81 or via email at customerservice@norwalkct.org.

For information during crises like the storm, make sure your number is set to receive notices on the Notify Norwalk System by signing up at http://bit.ly/o8Worr.  Follow the Office of Emergency Management at www.facebook.com/NorwalkOEM.

I would like to commend all those involved in the Emergency Management Operations of the city. Under the mayor’s capable leadership of the city, we fared very well. Now, I also commend the men and women of the city’s Department of Public Works, under Mr. Alvord’s management, things are rapidly returning to normal.  My hope is that we will learn from this experience and grow as a result.

David McCarthy
Norwalk Common Council, District E
Chairman, Public Works Committee

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Comments (21)

Personally I find it shameful that people blame the city & utilities for not being miracle workers. The biggest difference between today & years past is that today people expect everything to be done for them while years ago they went out & did many things themselves & were better able to deal without power, phones etc. It seems that they think modern technology can conquer things it obviously cannot. I'v lived here, near the water, for 35 years & can say we NEVER had a tidal flood greater than this one in that time. That coupled with the wind caused havoc around town, but, we all knew it was coming and had tim e to prepare. Maybe people need to prepare themselves mentally a little better for the inevitable times their computers, internet, cell phones etc wont work, because as much as we depend on them the things which support them are pretty fragile & suceptable to bad weather.
Personally I was and am more upset that the beach was closed to us than anything else.
We have undeveloped parks around the city/state that are no more dangerous than a sand covered parking lot so it just makes no sense to me, especially since it gets opened up with all the damage unrepaired, save the sand being cleaned up.
Alot of us enjoyed the ability in past years to go down there and watch storms roll in, as intelligent adults it was never a problem. But, reading many of the responses it becomes obvious that maybe many people arent able to decide when its time to leave anymore.

I thought many times since reading your post yesterday whether or not to reply and it's 6am and have decided I will. I get it that you don't like any of the Republicans yes, I get it! I get it that you don't agree with what anyone ever does in the city yes,I get it! but why must you always continue to be so negative? No matter what anyone tries to do you are negative, I understand (won't mention your name though I do know who you are) that you will find fault with anything and everything for whatever reasons you may have and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Freedom of speech as they say (although when I tried to express myself I couldn't) is a wonderful thing. However, I don't appreciate always being your target and you have no idea what I do or what my thoughts are on anything. Heres a challenge for all who feel they have all the answers and all the solutions, there is an election coming up next November, please get your name on the ballot and get elected to put in place all the solutions you seem to have and sit back and get trashed on every blog and every news story and see how it feels. Norwalk is one of very few towns hit hard by "Sandy" who has mostly recovered from her anger, yes, there are still some places that need desparate help and yes, I have spoken to some as recently as last week, I have gotten them information on programs, services etc. and have kept in close contact with them since the storm. But I guess thats not enough so please by all means, run for office and do what you feel is a better approach. As far as suppressing dialogue, maybe you should check and see how we are degraded and humiliated by our fellow council members because we try to do what we are allowed to do by city charter and stick to what is and isn't under our jurisdiction. We have had all the discussions, we have looked at all the options and we understand that the subject of hiring, firing, promoting and general police/fire department policies are not under our purvue. You can come back with whatever answers you like but, again we have no say in how these things are done and perhaps the questions should be posed to those who do and those who eliminated the positions. We had nothing to do with it and a do nothing resolution is not the answer because we as council people cannot act on it and have no power to assure others will. While I have my own feelings on the situation and I have voiced my opinions, the council floor is not the place for such dog and pony shows as have been seen of late. It is not only disrespectful to our position but disrespectful to the officers in question who don't pick and choose who they protect based on ethnicity. I am appalled at the behavior that has been the norm of late and I am sickened by the petty party politics that has taken over the city council (and it's only a few who have agendas of their own). We aren't elected by taxpayers to propose our own agendas, we are elected to do our job to the best of our ability and if we don't, then we should be voted out next time. So, again, please step up and run for office and rather than write on blogs, put your ideas and solutions into action. I for one welcome it. And again, I am not afraid to use my own name to get my point across as some seem to be. While I understand some do it so they can keep from being publically humiliated, others do it so they can trash, demoralize and humiliate others behind the comfort of their computer screens.

Joanne, thank you for your post. I honestly do not find it difficult at all to figure out who is posting on the Norwalk Daily Voice threads in a consistent and negative manner. It takes a high level of motivation to comb through every thread and attempt to invalidate select reponses. There is a clear pattern to the negatives and this pattern targets individuals, more than issues.Clearly this pattern is designed to support a partisan platform.

I would also like to say that I am saddened by your decision to leave, but I truly understand it. It is outrageous that you were verbally assaulted by fellow council members, which prompted police intervention. Perhaps you left too soon. Civility appears to have become a recent partisan strategy with November rounding the bend.

Thank you Norwalk Native but I do believe I left at the right time. I do not see the civilty improving any time soon and I don't feel I need to be subjected to such disgusting antics because I chose many years ago to do for the city and my fellow Norwalkers. I do feel that I am much more suited to my volunteering and fundraising as there you are doing fom the heart and you are doing for those in need and it gives me time to take a deep breath and get a bit of me time. Don't think for one moment that because I left that anything will change, I was just one on a totem pole of those others wish to eliminate. Hope they make it to the next round! Maybe by then they will have learned respect and dignity rather than self promotion and disrespect!

sorry hit button twice

I wonder why my latter comments to Tim T have been removed from this ...was it done intentionally?

I find it rather interesting that Tim T is allowed to spew his hatred on a daily basis but when I, one of the recipients come back with an answer, mine is deleted...

I wouldnt sweat his comments Joanne. I apreciate you & your efforts on our behalf as do many others, thats why you were elected again.

Hatered or truth,you will find there are many outlkets for Norwalk residents to hear what is wrong what is right.So far watching the council meeting where critical votes have come up not one question that would help anyone make a informed decicion.Maybe finding something to do that helps the city not attached to Moccia would get you a job at the statehouse.Moccia has found himself in charge of a mess he has created and hanging in there helping him has brought your ship down as well.Not once did I see the Mayor stumping for anyone other than Linda the rest of you are on your own,thats better for all involved.Make Norwalk better start listening to whats coming up for a vote and break the mold that has landed most council members in the same do nothing attitude till next election.Time is running out for the entire council unless your a Democrat trying to make things right.So far the council has done nothing but disgrace the city with a lame drive towards any advance.

Maybe Tims right attack the problem not the solution

Barnstorm: I fully agree with you on underground power lines in heavily affected areas is not only a good idea but could be a huge money saver not only to the power companies but to the residents as well. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars of food stuff had to be thrown out? how many people had to stay in hotels? How many homes caught fire from power surges and gas explosions in hot water heaters when the power went back on? It may have not happened here in Norwalk but it could and an ounce of prevention as they say.... As far as the Mayor recording the emergency information daily, that is his job. The mayors and selectman, governors fire/police chiefs etc. are those responsible for emergency management and that is the reason for it. It has nothing to do with self promotion but everything to do with public safety and the job he was elected to do. I don't care what party affiliation, this is what I would expect any town leader to do and he did a great job. It allowed us as council people to make outr constituents aware at all hours of the day and night. I for one signed up for multiple towns because I have relatives and friends throughout Fairfield County and I was able to update them via Facebook and texting as to what they could expect, where they could go for shelter and help and each one had one or more of the above mentioned persons making these announcements.

Councilwoman Romano,

I appreciate your service to Norwalk on the Common Council. Let me clarify and explain my comment. I do not believe that the Mayor was simply recording the messages to promote himself. The Notify Norwalk system is a good system, but an unintended side effect is that a robocall goes to every household with the mayor's voice on it. That does in fact promote the Mayor, even though the call contains important and useful information. What would be wrong with having an unnamed City employee's voice on the recordings, and this way there is no question in anybody's mind about whether or not taxpayer dollars are promoting an elected official?

I agree with you that the Mayor is ultimately responsible for OVERSEEING emergency management, but that doesn't mean it has to be his voice on those phone calls, any more than it needs to be him personally driving DPW trucks or removing fallen trees.

As with most towns, the mayor makes the announcements. In order for an unidentified city employee to make these announcements 1. the employee would have to be on call at all times during the event. 2. they would incur overtime which the mayor or any of those I mentioned before would not. He/she is the mayor no matter his/her party and it is expected by most that he/she in fact take the reigns in such emergencies. I was not being condecending or running to Mayor Moccia's rescue on your concern, I was merely stating facts and had hoped it would be understood in the context it was imparted. City employees on the most part are union employees and most times are entitled to overtime so therefore it would not be in the best interest of the taxpayers to engage their services when we have a mayor who is elected to do just that.

Thanks for your reply and your prior reply, neither of which were the least bit condescending. However it sounds like your logic suffers from a lack of imagination.

Are there are zero city employees besides the Mayor who were working outside of regular business hours during Hurricane Sandy? I bet there were plenty of other City employees on duty, in fact I'd bet there were probably even NON-UNION city employees besides the Mayor who were on-duty thoughout the event. So it's simply not a factual statement that the Mayor is the only person who can record Notify Norwalk messages without creating additional costs to the taxpayers.

The Mayor is elected to oversee the City's operations, not to record phone messages on a taxpayer-funded phone system which raises his profile with voters. Again, I'm not claiming that the messages were simply for self-promotion - they clearly had informational value - but the unintended consequence is that they promote the Mayor, which is not necessary or appropriate when the messages could be recorded by an unnamed city employee. Let the Mayor distinguish himself with strong leadership, rather than with taxpayer-funded voicemail messages to every household.

I should add that I have been receiving Notify Norwalk messages for quite a while, and they don't always come from the Mayor, so there are obviously other people who can record them.

While I appreciate you reminding me that others were working,and they all did a fantastic job, I believe (of course just my opinion) that it is the Mayor/Police Chief/Deputy Chief/Fire Chief that should be making these announcements. They were making these announcements as they came in and those in charge with first hand knowledge should be the ones imparting the updates. MaybeI am wrong, but I for one took no offense to receiving them and I have heard much praise by citizens on our code red system and that the Mayor informed them on each aspect of the situation. I am not disagreeing with you and my logic is not from lack of imagination, it is that these are the people who are responible for our safety and it is they who are stationed at emergency mangement to update us at every turn. As I see you have read the article in the Hour today regarding this, I also read that we will be reimbursed for 100,000 minutes by the Federal Emergency Management Agency therefore ultimately not costing the taxpayers. I don't believe that in a time of emergency anyone is looking for self promotion. Thank you for always being open minded to others opinions and posting positive statements, I read most of your posts and am happy that people like you are looking at what is in the best interest of the city and the citizens and not always finding fault with everything. I do hope more people will sign up for Code Red at http://www.norwalkct.org/list.aspx

Councilwoman Romano,

Thanks for your kind words. I think we are going to have to agree to disagree on this. I hope you had a good Thanksgiving and thanks again for your service to Norwalk.

Having lived in Norwalk for most of my life, I can remember when the city used to get hit with hurricanes with much more frequency than we see these days. The town used to bounce back much quicker, even when the damage was greater than what we had with Sandy.
It is very apparent to me that the "improvements" we've made over the years have been less than effective, and I'm being very generous here.
I also would take issue with CL&P's continued assertion that it would be prohibitively expensive to bury our power lines in those areas most susceptable to the kind of damage we are experiencing. More expensive than what? Contracting outside workers from all over the country to constantly bail us out every time we have a storm (even one less than hurricane strength)?

Clearly the Public Utilities Commission needs to take a look to see if our utilities are serving the public, or just paying lip service while they benefit the shareholders. Whatever it is they're doing, it smells more rotten than the waste treatment plant with the pumps shut down.

Overall, the City administration's preparations and response to the storm seemed effective. CL&P could have done a lot better. I hope there will be consequences for CL&P that improve response to future storms.

That said, I disagree with the practice of the Mayor personally recording each announcement sent out via the "Notify Norwalk" system. This feels like taxpayer resources are being used to promote the Mayor. It would be better to have an unnamed city employee record the announcements. Mayor Esposito used to do something similarly inappropriate when he sent out "state of the city" letters with tax bills, bragging about how there was no tax increase that year - a laudable accomplishment, but not one that he should have used taxpayer funds to communicate to voters.

always respect what you write have learned things I didn't know but if the city cleaned up the treee that they own alone that would prevent some major damage to power lines.

I disagree with your take on what the city did,177 police officers yet 120 are on the street the fire dept has taken on a new role as observer yet watch this year as the highest paid turn out to be fire personall.

We are paying the higest in overtime than any other city around yet cry poormouth whenits time to pay up/

Norwalk fire let sit in Norwalk $600,000 dollar boat that did nothing.Before this year Norwalk fire only had 5 rescues in as many years why in the hell did we take a free fire boat to pay now to man it and keep it safe for the winter?That money comes from Norwalk not anyone else.

New fire station well thats a waste of money ask anyone who house is burning and it still takes time to respond and fight it with no new hand tools

The new ladder can't fit in most places to fight a fire so thats useless

why not back to basics,teach firemen in Norwalk to put out fires,use cutting edge rsources still not brought to the department.

Lets jump back to the fire boat,times this summer the fire dept would be repsonding to a water emegency and forgot to tell anyone like the police dive team equiped with the fastest boats in our water,its been a disgracefull way for our highly paid you watch and see firemen who voted for Moccia act.

Yes their job is a tough one thats no excuse to run a city into the ground to pay for crap

Firemen in Norwalk will tell you first hand waht the trouble is they are by the way right.

The East Norwalk fire station should be closed its not a fire station at all and wityh plenty of proof let one person call me on what I have seen and what I have seen happen in the last couple of months.If I lived in East Norwalk I'd call Westports fire dept for help they at times the way the dept is is run will be closer.

Hi, Spoon,

I can remember getting messages on the answering machine from both Police Chief Rilling and Fire Chief McCarthy over the Notify Norwalk system in the past. I don't think it has to do with any kind of promotion, but simply that the information such as "Norwalk is still in a State of Emergency" is important for people to know. It factors in with whether school will be canceled and might have some bearing on insurance if people have to file for claims. One of the biggest complaints that I have heard from people is that they "didn't know" X, Y or Z was happening. I simply listen to the message, make sure that I have the information I need, tell my family members and then delete the message. No biggie. I had much larger issues because a disabled family member in another town was without power for almost a week. The Notify Norwalk messages didn't even make it onto my radar.

Hi Paige - I hope you are ready for Thanksgiving and your disabled family member is ok.

As I replied to Councilwoman Romano, I think the Notify Norwalk system is a great system, but I disagree with the practice of having Mayor Moccia record the announcements.

Hey Spoon,

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. We did, here at our house.

I happened to be in a few different towns during the past week or so and during the various discussions, the Reverse 9-1-1 notification systems came up. I can say with 100% certainty that Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Stratford Mayor John Harkins and Darien First Selectman Stevenson all made numerous announcements to their communities during the course of and following the storm. They all referred to it during the discussions when I was present.

Quite truthfully, it's Standard Operating Procedure. I think that people want to know that their mayor, selectman, or head elected official cares enough to contact them, even if it is by recorded message. It also shows that the head elected official is aware and involved in the situation.

This is probably going to be one of those areas that we have to agree to disagree on. But I just wanted you to know the Mayor was not doing anything different than any of the other surrounding communities were doing.

Just wanted to let you know that.

Hi Paige

Thanksgiving was excellent, thanks. Glad yours was too.

I think you're right, we simply have to agree to disagree. I can see where you're coming from and I recognize that other Mayors and selectmen do it, but in my eyes that doesn't make it right. To be clear, I'm not accusing them of recording these announcements for self-promotional purposes, that's simply an unintended consequence that would be avoided completely if an unnamed City employee recorded them.

If it's true that the Mayor won't be running for re-election, this is a moot point anyway.