Darien weathers vicious March storm - Top story of 2010
A vicious storm that ravaged the state in March left over half the town in the dark and others questioning why the
First Selectman chose to go on vacation during an emergency.
The storm, which slammed Fairfield County on Saturday and early Sunday morning in March, left about half of Darien households without power. Local meteorologists attributed the downed trees and power lines to the 35 to 45 mph wind gusts that buffeted the state during the storm. About 1.86 inches of rain fell during the weekend storm which saturated the ground and made for muddy conditions.
Despite experiencing one of the worst storms in recent town history, Darien was able to weather the heavy winds and rains that lashed the state in March.
Town officials were pleased with the way members of the Darien community banded together in the wake of the storm, which cut off power to roughly half of the town and caused significant property and road damage.
"I have been very impressed with patience," Acting First Selectman David Bayne told the Darien News. "I know everybody is frustrated. We're all getting very tired of it very quickly, but there's been a real spirit of cooperation and helping neighbors out."
Several businesses and town entities stepped up to the plate during the week to help out residents.
The YMCA, located at 2420 Post Road, offered free showers to all Darienites early in the week, regardless of whether they were members or not.
The Parks and Recreation Department also opened up the Town Hall gymnasium that week to offer a safe place for children to play when the town's schools were closed.
The Town also opened up Tokeneke School as an emergency shelter for one night, but it was closed due to a low level of demand the following day.
However, the highest demand facility in the town was the library.
On Sunday afternoon, during its four hours of operation, the library served slightly less than 1,000 people; the library usually sees between 600 and 800 people on a "busy" Sunday, according to Director Louise Berry.
"I've never seen the library so full as it was Sunday," Berry said. "We had just under 1,000 people, and they were here for the entire four hours we were open, so every seat was full. We actually opened the auditorium to have more seating for people."
The library operated from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, its typical schedule for that day of the week, but extended its hours on Monday and Tuesday to help accommodate the need.
"Mostly people, I think, are interested in getting online. We had people waiting for the library's computer on Sunday, and lots of people on their own laptops with their wireless connections. A lot of people wanted to ether get access to the Internet to see what was happening, or check their e-mail and other communication.
Despite the tough conditions during, and after, the storm, the town opted not to open its Emergency Operation Center.
"We did a partial activation, which basically boils down to the emergency services being involved," Darien's Emergency Management Director, Marc McEwan told the Darien News. "We did not call in town staff members to staff the EOC, which is when you basically swing into full operation."
Had it been fully opened, the EOC would have been located at the police department, with town department heads and other officials working in one room to respond to the emergency, according to McEwan.
While the town was working on getting power restored and cleaning up trees and other debris that was in the roads, a group surfaced with a petition calling for First Selectman David Campbell's resignation. Before the petition surfaced, Campbell apologized during a Board of Selectmen meeting.
The petition was posted on Twitter with the user name "removecampbell." The tweet stated "Sign the petition to demand the removal of Darien First Selectman David Campbell," with a link to the petition Web site.
"It's not worthy commenting on, because the signatures are from Egypt," Campbell told the Darien news. "None are from Darien. So what's it mean? So if anybody has a problem, they can come see me. I apologized last night and that's all I can do."
The apology came during a special Board of Selectman meeting.
"I'd like to apologize to the town for my bad choice of leaving town on Sunday for a vacation with my wife," Campbell said to approximately three dozen town residents and officials in attendance.