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Connecticut Cleans Up After Deadly Irene Slams The State

Morning dawns on the Old Greenwich section of Greenwich, CT - Aug 29, 2011 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

Morning dawns on the Old Greenwich section of Greenwich, CT – Aug 29, 2011 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

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Irene

GREENWICH, CT (WCBS 880/AP) - Two deaths in Connecticut were being attributed to Tropical Storm Irene, which knocked out power to more than 700,000 utility customers and swept some shorefront homes into the sea.

SEE: User-Submitted Pictures Of Irene’s Wrath

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane In Westport

Some businesses are still sucking up and sopping up but in many ways it looks like another day here on Main Street in Westport.

“The other businesses were great getting out here yesterday, getting their stores open, so the electricians, and the building inspector, and fire marshal could get in,” said Bob LaRose, who represents downtown Westport merchants.

He said the knee-high water ruined merchandise and food.

Forecasters said it would be days before some parts of the already swollen Connecticut River crest with the rain dumped by Irene, putting many communities at risk for flooding.

William Babcock, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass., said the river is not expected to reach its highest point in the Hartford area until Tuesday evening.

“The expected flooding in the Hartford area would affect residential areas from Hartford through Rocky Hill,” he said.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff believes Connecticut Light & Power is at least a better communicator after the last blackout.

“There’s still always some issues and people, until they get their power back, we’re not going to be satisfied. The unfortunate thing is we cannot pin down a timetable,” he said.

Full power restoration could take weeks.

“Resources are spread out throughout the state and CL&P and UI are doing what they can and people just need to recognize that,” he said.

More than 700,000 power customers – or about half the state – were without power Monday morning.

Connecticut Light & Power had the most outages ever for a single event, shattering a record set in 1985 when Hurricane Gloria knocked out power to 477,000 customers, spokesman Dave Radanovich said.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane In Old Greenwich

The storm was blamed for the death of a man who fell off a canoe on a flooded street in Bristol, and a fire that killed a woman in Prospect.

The body of a man who went canoeing down a flooded East Main Street in Bristol was recovered late Sunday night in Plainville, police said.

Shane Seaver, 46, of Bristol, and another man went canoeing after waters from the Pequabuck River flooded parts of the city, but his canoe capsized, police said.

The other man made it to shore.

An 89-year-old woman died early Sunday and her husband was severely injured when a falling tree limb pulled down power lines onto their house in Prospect.

The Waterbury Republican-American reported Charlotte Levine died in the fire. Her husband, James Levine, was in critical condition in the burn unit of Bridgeport Hospital. Two firefighters also received treatment for electric shocks.

In East Haven, fire Chief Doug Jackson said ocean flooding destroyed or heavily damaged more than 20 homes, and authorities used boats and trucks to rescue at least two dozen people. The lost buildings included cottages that collapsed and were partially swept out to sea.

“It’s gone. There’s just a mess of rubble,” said Paige Weinstein of Woodbridge, after checking on her family’s 1930s summer cottage. “It was our summer retreat. It was our piece of paradise.”

As coastal communities turned their attention to the recovery effort, many inland towns remained focused on the threat from rising rivers. On Sunday evening, the town of Farmington urged people on some streets to leave their homes and seek higher ground for their protection from the Farmington River.

Along Shore Road and its side streets in Old Greenwich, mats of marshgrass and seaweed could be seen and generators were humming to keep the water pumps working.

“We emptied the family room of all the furniture yesterday and that was a trip,” George Barletta told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane. “We just caught it. It stopped it because I had the pump going.”

Some say it was not the worst storm that they’ve seen, but it was enough to keep the gates closed at Greenwich Point Park, where a town worker said the roads are covered with debris and bridges are damaged.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings in Windham, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven and Tolland counties.

The center of Irene came across the western Connecticut coast around midday Sunday, dropping close to 10 inches of rain in northwestern parts of the state before speeding away to the northeast.

Tree limbs and storm-tossed debris littered roads across the state, and Gov. Dan Malloy said it was clear that property owners sustained significant damage.

“After touring some of the hardest-hit areas in East Haven and West Haven personally, it’s clear we have our work cut out for ourselves as we begin to fully grasp the damages associated with this storm,” Malloy said.

As the storm approached, 32 municipalities called for evacuations and the governor said 1,600 people rode out the storm in shelters. Those who decided to ride the storm out at homes along the water had harrowing experiences.

“The sound of the wind, I can’t get it out of my head. It was so forceful and so mean,” said Michelle Liettieri, 57, who rolled up rugs and stuffed them against her sliding glass doors to keep the ocean water out of her East Haven home. She said she and her husband thought about evacuating but stuck it out to do what they could to protect the house.

Service on the New Haven line of the Metro-North remained suspended Monday, leaving thousands of state residents scrambling to find other ways to get to work.

Nearly all Sunday flights at Bradley International Airport north of Hartford were canceled. Airport officials hoped to return to a normal schedule sometime on Monday.

(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.)