The town ordered a mandatory evacuation order Sunday, informing residents by phone and email along the Madison shoreline south of the Boston Post Road and in other low-lying areas of town that the storm surge associated with Hurricane Sandy is expected to be fierce, repeated, and life threatening.
Residents signed up with ctalert.gov received the notification. About 25 percent of households in town are signed up, many of them in the last few days. But, just to make sure all the households in the danger zone received the notification, volunteer firefighters from Madison Hose Co. No. 1, which protects the south end of town, and North Madison Volunteer Fire Co., which protects the north end of town, went door to door urging residents to heed the mandatory evacuation order.
The firefighters knocked on doors, talked with residents, told them about the order, and handed out fliers. If no one was home, they left the fliers for the residents. If someone was home, they often were peppered by questions about the approaching storm that they patiently answered before moving on to the next household.
Town officials on duty and working Sunday
Several residents in the Neck Road area said the information from the firefighters convinced them to leave. Others said they would stay nonetheless, including some that were well within the area that would be affected by the storm surge.
First Selectman Fillmore McPherson also was working at town hall Sunday, along with Madison Police Chief Jack Drumm, Madison Emergency Management Director John Bowers, Madison Deputy Emergency Management Director Ed Brunt, Town Engineer Michael Ott, and others. Madison Hose Co. No. 1 Fire Chief Bobby Kyttle, North Madison Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Don MacMillan, and Madison Ambulance Association Director Chris Bernier.
McPherson also said people should heed the evacuation order. Forecasters are saying the storm surge will be "life threatening."
"At least three high tides of catastrophic proportions"
"Heavy winds from the storm are expected to start around midnight [Sunday night] and to last through Tuesday. This is a much longer length of time than we have seen in previous storms, and we will experience at least three high tides of near catastrophic proportions," McPherson said in a message to residents. "Flooding along the coast and some inland areas will be much worse than we saw with Irene last year."
McPherson said residents should seek shelter with friends or relatives inland. If that was not possible, the town shelter at the gym at Madison Town Campus was opened around 6 p.m. Sunday. Residents and their pets can be accommodated.
"We have cots but you should bring three days worth of clothes, personal hygiene items, medicines, any special dietary needs, pet food, a pillow, and a blanket," McPherson said in his statement to residents.
Roads closed, schools closed
"Because of the high winds and hazardous driving conditions streets south of Boston Post Road will be closed to all but local residents starting at midnight [Sunday night]," McPherson said. "Please resist the temptation to drive down and look at the waves tomorrow." McPherson noted that schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday and possibly longer, depending on the damage from the storm.
"Remember, once winds reach 40 or more miles per hour, emergency and CL&P personnel will not be able to be out. This could last until late Tuesday or Wednesday," McPherson said.
North Madison Fire Co. Chief MacMillan was among emergency responders who said Sunday that firefighters would be on duty throughout the storm and would do whatever they had to do to fight fires, and to keep town residents safe.
Do your part, leave if you are in a vulnerable area
And residents who heed the evacuation order, thereby putting themselves out of harm's way, will be doing their part to make sure firefighters and emergency can focus on real emergencies rather than people who decided to stay when they should have left.
McPherson said late last week that if people in town have someone with special needs or who is vulnerable, and they think they might have difficulty providing for them during the storm, that they should contact the town.
- People who have concerns about an older person should call Heather Castrilli, Municipal Agent for the Elderly, at (203)245-5687.
- People who have concerns about a younger person should call David Melillo at Madison Youth & Family Services at (203) 245-5645.
Closing in Madison:
Madison School Superintendent Thomas Scarice said Sunday that Madison Public Schools would be closed for Monday and Tuesday, and that town and school officials would decide later this week how to proceed.
In addition, the following closings have been announced:
- Scranton Memorial Library will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
- The Senior Center will be closed, and Town Hall will be closed for routine business
- The food pantry will be closed Wednesday for both volunteers and clients. After the storm passes, volunteers will assess the situation and as soon as it is safe, they likely will be distributing emergency food bags as needed.
- The Strong House Adult Day Center is closed.
- The Madison School for Young Children is closed.
- Our Lady of Mercy, Madison is closed.
- The Country School is closed.
- Temple Beth Tikvah Nursery School is closed.
If you know of other closings or cancellations, you are welcome to list them in the comments section of this story. Or you can post a "blog" or an "event" to announce it. Both links are on the front page under the top four stories.
Sandy expected to turn toward the northwest today
The National Hurricane Center said in their 5 a.m. update that a turn toward the northwest is expected today, following by a turn toward the west-northwest tonight.
"On the forecast track, the center of Sandy will move over the coast of the mid-Atlantic states this evening or tonight. Reports from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter Aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 85 mph, with higher gusts," the NHC says. "Sandy is expected to transition into a frontal or wintertime low pressure system prior to landfall. However, this transition will not be accompanied by a weakening of the system and in fact, a little strengthening is possible during this process."
"Sandy is expected to weaken after moving inland. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from the center and tropical force winds extend outward up to 485 miles."
Headed towards New England
"Tropical storm conditions or gale force winds are already occurring over portions of the mid-Atlantic states from North Carolina northward to Long Island. Gale force winds are expected to continue to spread over other portions of the mid-Atlantic states, New York City, and southern Connecticut later this morning."
"Winds of hurricane force could reach the mid-Atlantic states, including New York City and Long Island later today. Winds affecting the upper floors of high-rise buildings will be significantly stronger than those near ground level."
"The combination of an extremely dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters."
"Elevated water levels could span multiple tide cycles"
"Given the large wind field associated with Sandy, elevated water levels could span multiple tide cycles resulting in repeated and extended periods of coastal and bayside flooding.
"Elevated waters could occur far removed from the center of Sandy. Furthermore, these conditions will occur regardless of whether Sandy is a tropical or post tropical cyclone."
"Dangerous surf conditions will continue from Florida through New England for the next couple of days."