Connecticut remains in State of Emergency; travel ban lifted - WNEM TV 5

Connecticut remains in State of Emergency; travel ban lifted

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© CL&P crews working on Route 1 in Old Lyme. © CL&P crews working on Route 1 in Old Lyme.
©  Gov. Dannel P. Malloy updates public at evening press conference. © Gov. Dannel P. Malloy updates public at evening press conference.

A travel ban issued by the governor was lifted at 4 p.m., but officials are urging residents to stay off the roads in Connecticut because many of them have not been plowed at all.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said near-record snow has fallen in seven of the eight counties throughout the state. The National Weather Service reported that Blizzard Charlotte dropped as much as 38" in parts of Connecticut.

On Saturday morning, Malloy issued a ban on all travel on limited access highways, however, after talking with other state leaders, he lifted the order at 4 p.m. to help allow commercial deliveries.

"While we are lifting the ban on travel this afternoon at 4 p.m., I still want to urge residents to stay off the roads if at all possible," Malloy said.

A limited access highway is a state road with an on and/or off ramp and includes Interstate 91, 95 and 84, as well as the Merritt Parkway.

In addition to the state plows, private contractors will also work to clear Connecticut's roads, highways and interstates. There were at least 1,000 DOT plows on the roads throughout Saturday evening.

"Crews are out clearing roadways as we speak, but the fact is we are going to feel the impact of this storm for some time," Malloy said in a statement. "The longer we can keep traffic out of town centers and off of our highways, the more effective our recovery effort will be."

Many Connecticut residents called Eyewitness News to report that their roads were still unplowed Saturday evening. The governor told residents to "discourage your loved ones from going on the road."

"They aren't as safe as we would like them to be," Malloy said.

Malloy said restoring the state highways could be take up to 10 days. However, some equipment may be made available to Connecticut on Monday. 

"We are concentrating on our road system. They should concentrate on theirs," he said when asked if the state was going to help cities and towns with plowing.

Officials from Bridgeport and Hartford are also looking for private contractors to help with the cleanup efforts.

"We're using everything we have to clean the streets as quickly as possible," said Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra. "DPW, HPD, HFD and private contractors are working in tandem to remove cars and clear main arteries. Still, the storm was historic in every sense; Hartford received over 2 feet of snow."

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch has issued a travel ban for the city, which means motor vehicles are not allowed to travel on streets in the city.

"While the governor has lifted his travel ban, we are still working hard to clear main arteries and snow emergency streets leading to our hospitals and fire stations," Finch said. "We need drivers to stay off the roads and allow our snow plowing crews to do their work."

People who travel in Bridgeport will receive fines and cars will be towed.

State police have responded to 1,600 calls as of 12:30 p.m.

"One of the biggest problems we face is stalled or abandoned cars on our roads," Malloy said at a news conference Saturday afternoon. "Every time that happens, it causes further delays."

Malloy said at one exit that he saw seven cars buried under snow at one off-ramp, which was causing problems for DOT workers trying to clear on-ramps and off-ramps.

"There are always folks who have to try it" he said about people going out during a blizzard.

The governor also signed an order that allows ambulance workers to not respond to non-emergency calls.

Bradley International Airport will reopen at 6 a.m. on Sunday.

Malloy also requested emergency funding from President Barack Obama following Blizzard Charlotte.

"As we continue with the recovery from this historic winter storm, I am asking the federal government to provide us assistance with this process," the governor said in a statement Saturday night. "If granted, this declaration would provide much needed help to our state."

The state remains under a State of an Emergency.

There are more than 28,000 customers without power, but power has been restored to 22,000 people.

As of 8:30 p.m., there were 28,738 Connecticut Light and Power customers without power and 67 United Illuminating customers without power.

Crews are stationed at Hammonasset Park and Waterford Speed Bowl.

People using generators are being advised to keep their homes ventilated. Malloy told residents to check their home side vents twice.

The governor is advising people to stay at least 10 feet away from downed wires and to not touch them. Downed wires prevented some roads from being plowed.

Malloy said he is also worried about the dropping temperatures and shelters and warming centers have been opened in southeastern Connecticut. Their biggest concern is the elderly.

More shelters and centers will open if needed, Malloy said.

There are 400 troops from the Connecticut National Guard on duty around the state assisting with the cleanup effort.

"The Connecticut National Guard have played a key role in our efforts last night," Malloy said.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney thanked the guardsmen for their hard work and service.

"The Connecticut National Guard doing tremendous job rescuing people from highways, helping move elderly to shelters," he tweeted Saturday.

Residents can help by keeping fire hydrants marked and clear for crews to emergency service workers.

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