With "extensive damage" already reported in southern New London, the state is anticipating a major storm surge along the coast with water levels exceeding those of the Hurricane of 1938.
The Connecticut Emergency Operations Center reported in a conference call that the surges will vary with each inlet and coastal area, but that water levels are supposed to rise six to 11 feet and reach depths of 8.5 to 9.5 feet above sea level in New London.
The Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security predicted that flood levels will exceed levels of the 1938 hurricane, which devastated New London and other coastal New England areas, by two feet. Waves of five to nine feet are expected on top of these waters. The worst flooding is expected to take place over the next several hours as high tide occurs at about 10 p.m.
Mayor Daryl Finizio said "extensive damage" has occurred in southern New London, much of which was under a mandatory evacuation order, and that emergency responders are waiting to see how much damage will occur from the storm surge.
Due to high wind speeds and dangerous wind conditions, New London's police, firefighters, and Public Works employees have been under order since 7 p.m. to remain at their control points unless a call is considered life-threatening or an emergency.
"We're only sending people out there if it's absolutely necessary," said Finizio.
The Emergency Operations Center is in the New London Fire Department Headquarters, which is in an area considered vulnerable to flooding. Finizio said he does not anticipate problems with the location, but that the center could be relocated to the New London Police Department and operational within an hour if need be.
Connecticut Light & Power reported that 44 percent of New London residents, or 6,105 out of 13,736, were without power as of 9:50 p.m. Two CL&P units have been working in New London to prepare for the storm and will be available to begin repairs once the storm dies down.
"We'll move on"
Personnel in the Emergency Operational Center were repeatedly frustrated by reports of people out in the storm. Members said such activities have put residents and responders at unnecessary risk from flooding, downed power lines, and other hazards. Finizio said the city could decide to implement a curfew, but that several similar requests for people to stay indoors have gone unheeded. He said residents should instead keep off the streets until noon on Tuesday.
"Your presence on the street inhibits emergency personnel's ability to do their jobs," he said.
Fire Chief Ron Samul warned that responders will seek to address damages as quickly as possible on Tuesday and will pass by areas if residents are inhibiting these efforts.
"If we've got a problem, we'll move on," he said.