Storm Damage Cancels Schools, Causes Power Outages

April Pruzinsky via Facebook A weirdly powerful spring-time storm tore through the state Tuesday, canceling school in Derby, Seymour and Oxford, and leaving thousands without power into Wednesday.

There’s no telling how long the power will be out.

Derby Superintendent Matthew Conway sent an email 7:30 a.m. Wednesday saying schools were closing due to downed trees wreaking havoc on bus routes, the staff’s inability to get to work, and a water issue at the high school.

Click the play button to listen to a message Derby schools sent to parents Wednesday morning apologizing for the late notice.

The closure message went out after some students arrived at Derby High School. Principal Martin Pascale e-mailed the Valley Indy at 8:47 a.m. saying: “All students have been dismissed from Derby High School at this time. Details regarding school events scheduled for today will be released shortly, thank you for your patience.”

The storm toppled trees all over the lower Naugatuck Valley. Seymour and Oxford were hit especially hard.

In Oxford, a suspected tornado touched down, and town officials were talking about opening an emergency shelter.

“Our town has been struck by a tornado which has caused extensive damage. Our firehouses and ambulance have been manned and they should be continually manned during cleanup,” First Selectman George Temple said in a recorded message at 12 a.m. Wednesday.

“I am in the Emergency Command Center at Public Works and will continue to monitor all aspects of our recovery. We expect to open the Quaker Farms School tomorrow as an emergency shelter. We did not open it earlier because we were concerned about the clear and present danger to traffic due to fallen trees and downed wires,” Temple said.

“I will provide another Code Red announcement regarding the emergency shelters. Showers will be available as well as water and food. There is no school tomorrow and all Town Offices are closed. I expect prolonged power outage, but the exact amount of time is anybody’s guess. Please have patience with the cleanup as our Public Works employees are putting in long hours. together we will get through this because we are Oxford tough! If you have any questions call me or text me at 203-906-0348.”

Rick Dunne Photo

Rick Dunne Photo

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, 97 percent of Eversource customers were powerless in Seymour. That’s 7,347 customers. There was no information on when power would be restored.

Social media was full of photos from Seymour showing topped trees, snapped utility poles and downed wires.

At 7:30 p.m. Seymour schools posted on Facebook saying school Wednesday was not happening.

“Please stay safe as travel conditions are still dangerous,” the message advised.

The Office of the First Selectman in Seymour had constant posts on Facebook. The town even paid Facebook to advertise a specific post.

“There are trees and wires down throughout Town,” according to a 9:31 p.m. post. “Emergency Services and Public Works are working closely together to open roadways where possible, but downed wires are limiting what can be done.”

“Please exercise caution and assume all wires are live. We are in communication with Eversource but we do not currently have an estimate for when power will be restored.”

“We are doing everything we can to resolve issues, but we ask for your patience in the meantime. We will give provide additional updates when we have more information. Thank you and stay safe.”

Seymour residents on social media were sharing storm stories and photos, and advising each other on what gas stations or businesses were open.

Getting around town was more than difficult, thanks to toppled trees that blocked roads.

Ansonia and Derby weren’t exactly spared either. There were multiple downed trees and wires in Derby. Seymour Avenue was closed just north of the Irving School as of 10 p.m. Hawthorne Avenue was closed near North Avenue thanks to a snapped pole.

According to United Illuminating, 108 Derby customers were without power.

Downed trees in Derby were scrambling some Wednesday morning bus routes, according to an email from School Superintendent Matthew Conway.

Silver Hill area of Derby was impassable, and the bus company was working on alternative routes. The school districted then opted to close schools.

UI showed 164 people out in Ansonia.

Shelton had 450 people without power, according to the utility company. Police asked people to stay inside and to NOT report downed trees by using 911.

The school district was operating on a 2-hour delay Wednesday.

In a prepared statement, UI said the company’s “immediate concern in the aftermath of these storms is public safety. Crews will continue to work overnight to address downed wires, assess damage and restore service to customers.”

The public should “stay away from downed lines, as well as anything that might be in contact with them. They can be dangerous even if they do not seem to be energized. Keep kids and pets indoors, and stay at least 35 feet away. Never drive over a downed wire. Report them to UI at 800.722.5584. If there is an immediate danger, call 911.”

Here’s footage as the storm arrived on Hawthorne Avenue in Derby about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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