HARTFORD, CT (WCBS 880/AP) – Marinas pulled boats in from the water, tourists canceled shoreline getaways and Connecticut’s governor declared a state of emergency as the state prepares for the effects of Hurricane Irene.
The declaration signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday gives him powers, including the ability to order evacuations and direct civil preparedness forces into action.
WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau On The Story
The governor said he decided the measure was necessary because of the projected storm path that threatens a direct hit on Connecticut over the weekend. He said it will help officials react more quickly.
Malloy also urged local governments to clear drainage facilities ahead of the storm, which is projected to approach the state on Sunday.
“To put it as delicately as we can, we take this threat very, very seriously,” Malloy said. “We believe that the time to prepare for what might be an eventuality is now.”
Peter Boynton, deputy commissioner of Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, said the state does not currently see a need for any evacuations but that could change.
“Tropical storm force winds earlier on Sunday. Hurricane force winds Sunday afternoon, and again, this will change,” he told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.
He says Connecticut could see 6 to 10 inches of rain.
“And in some locations, according to current forecasts, it could even exceed 10 inches to perhaps 12 or 14 in isolated locations,” he said.
The storm is expected to brush the North Carolina coast on Saturday as a hurricane before running north along the East Coast, losing some of its punch before curving to the northeast and soaking New England.
High tide along Connecticut’s shoreline will come late Sunday, around the same time the surge is supposed to hit, and marina crews were tying down docked boats and pulled others onto land to be prepared for rising waters and hurricane-force winds.
“Basically this is not new to us being in the marina business, we started preventative measures days ago,” said Tom Raiola an office manager at Brewer Yacht Yards in Branford.
Raiola said dock crews will be hauling boats to dry land through Saturday. His main concern was people who might try to ride out the storm on the water.
“Some people have this feeling that they can sit on their boat and ride out the storm, but that’s a very, very serious problem,” Raiola said.
Malloy urged local governments to focus on flood prevention, noting some predictions called for a five-foot storm surge. He also asked emergency responders to pay particular attention to urban areas as they plan for possible evacuations.
“We are a much more urban state than we were in 1938,” he said, referring to the year that the “Long Island Express” hurricane killed 600 people and caused major damage with 17-foot storm surges and high winds.
Residents were buying up generators and other provisions. Larry Panza, a 42-year-old cashier at Costco’s in Milford, said the store sold out of generators.
“I’m a little nervous,” he said.
The last hurricane to make a direct hit on Connecticut — Gloria — caused significant wind damage and power damages in 1985.
Hurricane Irene, which is arriving on one the last weekends of the summer, was prompting cancellations at several shoreline resorts that were booked nearly to capacity.
Christopher Barstein, general manager of the Water’s Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook, said he has received some cancellations, but one of two brides scheduled to have weddings there on Sunday is not budging from her plans.
“I don’t think we’re going to do a beach ceremony on this one,” he said.
He said the cancellations at the 168-room resort will be balanced out by 30 rooms booked by Connecticut Light & Power, which will be using the hotel to stage utility crews near the shoreline.
“I’m hoping if I lose power that means I get it back a little faster,” he said.
Are you doing anything to prepare in the Nutmeg State? Let us know in the comments section!
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)