Hurricane Sandy will be making landfall in Connecticut sooner than anticipated, the Connecticut Emergency Operations Center reported this afternoon.
In the call, Gov. Dannel Malloy said the storm is moving faster than originally predicted and will likely have a Category 2 strength when it hits the region around 5:30 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. The hurricane is expected to bring a six to 11 foot storm surge, with western Connecticut being hit the worst. The brunt of the storm will occur between now and 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Malloy said there has not been a big impact on the state from the rainfall, but that stronger winds and storm surges as well as the hybrid nature of the storm will likely have a continuing effect on the state.
“I don’t think anybody should let down their guard,” said Malloy.
A number of restrictions have largely called for residents to stay in their homes. These include a mandatory evacuation order for several southern New London neighborhoods, a downtown parking ban, and a traffic ban on highways and New London roads.
Shortly after 3 p.m., Mayor Daryl Finizio said increasing wind speeds were suspending city transportation to the emergency shelter at Winthrop School and recalling police, fire, and Public Works units to their control points. Finizio said the departments had been working to respond to incidents, clear storm drains, and complete other tasks.
“I’m not going to let them go out there if it’s not safe,” said Finizio.
Zak Leavy, Finizio’s executive assistant, said the city’s standard operating procedure says employees should not be out when there are sustained winds of 50 miles per hour or greater or gusts of 65 miles per hour or greater. When the order was given, there were sustained winds of 53.4 miles per hour and gusts at 75.2 miles per hour recorded at Ledge Light.
Fire Chief Ron Samul said dispatchers have been instructed to direct all 911 calls to the New London Fire Department battalion chief to determine if they are life-threatening or emergency calls.
“We should not even be out on the streets,” said Samul. “Fire, police, and Public Works should be hunkered down. But we’ve got to respond to these calls.”
The city was working to relocate six dogs from New London Animal Control to Montville’s animal shelter after a tree fell on the New London facility and did some structural damage. Departments were also responding to a number of calls of downed trees and power lines throughout the city on Monday afternoon.
Malloy said one problem included waters not receding during low tide, leading to the threat of increased storm surges during high tide. Finizio said New London's storm surge could exceed nine feet between 8 p.m. and midnight.
Connecticut Light & Power’s last report said 67,737 customers, or five percent, were without power. Three percent of New London customers, or 520 out of 13,736, were in the dark.
City offices and New London Public Schools will remain closed on Tuesday.