GREENWICH, Conn. – About 4,000 Greenwich homes have been affected by mandatory evacuations, and power outages could last several days due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, First Selectman Peter Tesei said at a news conference held at the Greenwich Public Safety Complex on Sunday evening.
Tesei, acting on the advice of Gov. Dannel Malloy, declared a state of emergency in Greenwich and ordered the mandatory evacuations of zones 1, 2 and 3 in the Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes areas. Tesei also strongly recommended, but did not mandate, evacuation from zone four.
Those who live in the affected areas have already been notified via a "reverse 9-1-1."
The Greenwich first selectman stressed multiple times how serious he expects the impacts from Hurricane Sandy to be.
"This is the real thing. If you have been ordered to evacuate, get out now. This is not something we have encountered before," Tesei said. "We need to take all action to secure the safety of those individuals living in the coastal communities. Whatever resources are necessary to respond to the event and to protect people will be employed."
Tesei said he expects conditions to be "extremely dangerous" Monday evening and night, noting at that point, it is likely it will be hard to get to people and respond to emergencies and cell phone service will have declined. He also warned that once power goes out, expect it to stay out for several days.
"Our focus is on life safety, first and foremost," he said. "We do not want to take any chances with any lives here in the town. Utility companies first address life safety necessities such as hospitals and nursing homes, then dispatch crews accordingly."
The National Guard is on standby and can be activated in Greenwich upon request, according to Tesei.
Shelters for evacuees have opened at Eastern Middle School and the Western Greenwich Civic Center, but those fleeing the storm are encouraged to first seek lodging with friends or family. Only service pets will be allowed at the two shelters.
Greenwich Chief of Police Jim Heavey warned people to stay off of the roads on Monday and likely Tuesday, which will help emergency responders get to their destinations faster.
"We will do our best and we will endeavor to protect every life in this town," Tesei said. "But we need help and cooperation as well. The sun will come out tomorrow – or maybe Wednesday."
Other tips Greenwich officials recommended included: charge your cell phone as soon as possible; bring a phone charger with you if you leave your home; if you charge your phone in your car, make sure your car is not running inside a garage; always run a generator outside away from windows or vents and not in a house or a garage.
Check back with The Greenwich Daily Voice for further updates throughout the storm.