Hurricane Sandy: Storm brings flashbacks to last year
The sights and sounds were all too familiar. Residents streamed into the library and the Y; and generators buzzed and hummed, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. As of Wednesday at 1 p.m., 83% of Wilton was still without power, and residents sought relief at the library, which opened its doors at 9 that morning — instead of the usual opening time of 10.
"We decided to open at 9 because we are seen as the center of the community," said Janet Crystal, publicist for the Wilton Library. On Tuesday, the library was closed and operating with "just a skeleton staff," but "people were literally pulling at the door," so the library opened, she said.
With a fully operational capacity for Wednesday, Ms. Crystal said "We've got people everywhere here today ... People are looking for a place to plug in, get some coffee and use our Internet to let their loved ones know they are safe."
Along with the coffee, the library also offered bagels, but Ms. Crystal said, "I don't know how long they will last ... We expect a sea of humanity here today. We will be here, welcoming the community."
Last year, after the Halloween snowstorm, which struck Wilton one day earlier than Hurricane Sunday, the library had 11,600 visitors in seven days, according to Ms. Crystal. "As a frame of reference, we see on average 21,000 per month, so last year we saw more than half a month's traffic in seven days," she said.
Similarly, the Wilton Family Y, which did not lose power, also served as an oasis of sorts for residents in search of hot showers and other amenities. "The Wilton Y has once again opened its doors to the public and it has been very full here," said Gloria Bass, the Y's special needs coordinator.
Meanwhile, as a Wilton resident without power, Ms. Bass said, "We are living with a generator running. But we are very thankful we have one."
Before Sandy hit, Ms. Bass "cooked and prepared food enough to last four days. I froze some to keep it safe."
At the Village Market, Nancy Dolnier, vice president and general manager, said lights went out briefly, but the store got back on line quickly. "We were one of the few stores in town center to lose power" during the storm, she said. Undaunted, in the storm's wake, "We were selling ice and water and bread on the sidewalk, and helping people cart it to their cars," she said. The Village Market was open Wednesday and was "very busy," according to Ms. Dolnier.
Orem's Diner has also been a popular spot in the storm's aftermath. "We never lost power and have been very busy," said Demetri Papanikolaou. "There are so many people without power."
What are the most popular menu selections?
"I would say breakfast items," he said.
Residents were able to get gas for their cars and generators at the Citgo station and convenience store at 386 Danbury Road, which also never lost power. "We have been seeing a lot of customers, and selling a lot of ice, batteries, milk and coffee," said Denise Pontbriant. "We've got everything you need here."
Amanda Pasciucco, a therapist and life coach who operates Therapy by Amanda at 250 Danbury Road, said her business has suffered negative consequences because of the "superstorm."
"I was not even able to get to my office to check if there is any power," she said. "I live on the border of Ridgefield and Wilton and there are so many trees down, it has made what is usually a short commute virtually impossible."
Ms. Pasciucco said she stayed with a friend in Hartford on Sunday evening. "I am lucky because 100% of Ridgefield and 85% of Wilton was without power," she said. "If I would have stayed, I would have never been able to contact anyone regarding meeting for appointments."
The far-reaching effects of Sandy hit home when Ms. Pasciucco said she finally reached her father in Long Island, after trying to contact him for three days. "He told me that one million homes in Long Island are without power," she said. "There is no cell service anywhere so he was actually surprised my call got through. He said that a tree fell on their car and ruined their SUV. They had been sitting in the dark for days, and if they drive around the island, there are no lights anywhere. He informed me that there is a 7 p.m. curfew because all stores have no security and there have already been cases of looting."
Anna Raimondi, a Wilton spiritual counselor, said the lack of power from the storm had also wreaked havoc with her business "It has shut down my business since traveling on Mountain Road is dangerous and my phones aren't working," she said. "The Internet isn't working. We can only pray and hope that CL& P will be quicker to restore power after this storm than they were with the ones last year."