Reporting on the State of Connecticut’s Summary of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and tests will resume in a few days. The Health District’s efforts are focusing on the storm response and trying to make sure the public has access to important safety information. Today’s post is long, it includes information about what to do when you power is out and a message from the Westport Emergency Management Response Team.
Regarding Westport and Weston specific COVID numbers, it is our understanding there has been no change since the last report before the storm hit: Westport Residents COVID-19 Positive Reported to the State 315 and Weston Residents COVID-19 Positive Reported to the State.
Food Safety During Power Outages
The WWHD is reminding residents about food safety during prolonged power outages. Perishable foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed, even when they are thoroughly cooked. Consider these tips from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
When the Power Goes Out . . .
Here are basic tips for keeping food safe:
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
- The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
- A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
- Buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep an 18 cubic foot, fully stocked freezer cold for two days.
- If you plan to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish, or eggs while they are still at safe temperatures, it is important that each item is thoroughly cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to ensure that any foodborne bacteria that may be present are destroyed. However, if at any point the food was above 40º F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90 º F) — discard it.
Once Power is Restored . . .
Determine the safety of your food:
- If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
- If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40° F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
- If the power was out for no more than 4 hours, refrigerated food should be safe as long as the doors were kept closed. When the power comes back on, check the temperature in the refrigerator or of the food. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, eggs, or leftovers) that has been at refrigerator temperatures above 40°F for 4 hours or more. Perishable foods with temperatures that are 45°F or below (measured with a food thermometer) should be safe, but should be cooked and consumed as soon as possible.
Consuming dangerous food-borne bacteria will usually cause illness within 1 to 3 days of eating the contaminated food. However, sickness can also occur within 20 minutes or up to 6 weeks later. Although most people will recover from a food-borne illness within a short period of time, some can develop chronic, severe, or even life-threatening health problems. Food-borne illness can sometimes be confused with other illnesses that have similar symptoms. The symptoms of food-borne illness can include:
- Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain
- Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body ache
If you think that you or a family member has a food-borne illness, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Stay Hydrated and Keep Cool
As temperatures rise, it’s important to avoid becoming dehydrated. Dehydration happens when the body loses more fluid than it takes in. Dehydration is especially dangerous for older people and very young children. During power outages, when it’s hot and humid, the risk of dehydration and heat-related illness increases. Try to keep the body as cool as possible by wearing light, breathable clothing and avoiding the hot sun when outside. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, particularly when out in the sun, exercising, or working outside. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women should have 2.2 liters of fluid intake per day and men should get 3 liters. You may need more depending on your level of activity or the weather. If you experience the symptoms of heat stroke such as a throbbing headache, no sweating, body temperature above 103 degrees, red/hot/dry skin, rapid pulse, nausea/vomiting, or disorientation/confusion, please call 9-1-1 right away.
Press Release 08-06-2020 Westport Update on Storm Aftermath, Eversource Response and Clean Up Efforts
Update from Westport Emergency Management Response Team:
The Westport Office of Emergency Management is currently coordinating with Eversource to restore power in Westport and communicate with more accuracy the plans for restoration. Currently, 86% of Eversource customers are without power, down from 97% this morning.
The Department of Public Works has made great progress with opening up approximately 40% of the 294 roads that were closed. Last evening, they were able to reopen Saugatuck Avenue so that Police, Fire, and EMS can access the Saugatuck Island and Harbor Road neighborhood without having to pass through East Norwalk.
Part of the standard for restoration is the “Make Safe” program where Town highway crews are paired with Eversource crews to reopen streets that are blocked by downed trees and power lines. Once the power company verifies that the electricity is off to the downed wires, Public Works crews can then safely remove trees, branches and debris to open the streets. Streets with no secondary access are prioritized so that emergency vehicles can gain access.
Power cannot be safely restored until all the trees are cleared. Unfortunately, this process may take days. There can be no official estimates for when power may be restored while the Make Safe process is ongoing. However, once the next phase begins, more accurate data will be available to provide estimates on times and areas of restoration.
Statement from First Selectman Marpe:
I have been in direct contact with Eversource and our legislators about the Eversource response and its expected timeframe for restoration, demanding accurate estimates from Eversource for their remaining restoration efforts. Governor Lamont has also stepped in to demand a better response from Eversource. In an effort to manage expectations regarding estimates of power restoration time, be aware that this storm has created as much electrical infrastructure damage as Super Storm Sandy, eight years ago. Power restoration for some customers in that event took many days. We understand everyone’s frustration with even a day without power, so we will push Eversource in every way possible to speed the process, without compromising safety.
We are also aware of the challenges with sporadic to non-existent WiFi, internet and cell service. We have been in contact with executives at major carriers, including AT&T Wireless and Verizon. Cell towers and antennae require commercial power to operate. As a result, they are also affected by the massive outage. The representatives assured us that they are working on temporary solutions to gain some level of service, but ultimately, they, like all of us, rely on full restoration by Eversource before they may achieve full capability.
The town is working on establishing locations for public device charging stations. Seniors age 60 or over can charge their devices on the outside of the Senior Center between the hours of 8:30 – 4:30 Monday – Friday. Outdoor public Wi-Fi can be accessed at the train station houses, outside of Town Hall and outside of the Westport Library.
Yesterday, there were technical issues that prevented broadcasting on WWPT. Those issues have been resolved, and I encourage residents to tune in to Westport’s WWPT (90.3 FM) radio for information and guidance during this emergency.
While safety remains our utmost concern, we suggest that residents remain at home after dark given that downed wires are harder to be seen at night. Furthermore, traffic lights continue to be out of service and all intersections must be approached as if a stop sign was there. Please do not remove caution tape or barricades from roadways; they are there for your safety. If tape or barricades are removed prematurely, personnel must reattach it, taking time away from other vital activities. Exercise extreme caution if out walking/cycling/jogging on the roadways and sidewalks, since many remain blocked by limbs and wires.
We appreciate your continued patience and cooperation as we work effectively and efficiently to address the issues associated with this event. The intent of these press updates is to answer public questions and concerns for all to see. Please continue following our press notifications and social media for answers to your concerns. And please remember, we are still fighting the COVID-19 virus so practice social distancing and use face coverings if you choose to leave your home. Please help protect our community as we work together to get through the pandemic and the storm aftermath.
Update on Westport Parks & Recreation:
Westport Town beaches are open for use but will be closing at 8:30pm in an effort to keep people off the roads after dark. Longshore Golf Course and Longshore tennis courts remain closed as clean-up continues and there is no electricity. Access will be available to the ER Strait Marina, Longshore Sailing School and the Pearl. Please note that due to the lack of power, fuel is not available at either marina.
Athletic fields are open with the exception of Town Farms and Coleytown Elementary School fields. For updates on those fields, check with Westport Little League.
Other park facilities that are open include, Winslow Park, Machamux Park, Grace Salmon Park, Luciano Park, Eloise Ray Park, Pasacreta Park, Jesup Green and Veterans Green. Please note, some areas may still be blocked or closed off. The Staples, Town Farms and Doubleday tennis courts are open for play. Other parks will be opened once damage has been assessed and the area is deemed safe. Please do not enter a park if it has been closed off.
For your safety and the well-being of others:
- Only call 911 for true medical emergencies.
- Check on your neighbors
- Stay at least 25 feet from downed power lines.
- Be aware of possible carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators.
- All generators (portable and installed) should be used in well-ventilated locations outside and at least 10-15 feet away from all doors, windows, and vent openings.
- Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
- If you must drive, use caution, expect delays and detours, and be considerate of other drivers and emergency crews. DO NOT drive around tape or barricades – they have been erected for your safety. Without working traffic signals, intersections must be approached as if a STOP sign was there. Make a full stop at all intersections and treat this as a four way STOP.