UI: Power likely to be restored to Hamden by Sunday night

HAMDEN -- Shepard Avenue, a couple of miles north of Sleeping Giant, was open to traffic Friday after being isolated from the rest of the town for nearly two full days.

Most residents are not quite as desperate Friday but they are still growing impatient.

“We really got to get somebody to get this driveway open very soon for us,” said Arlene Pregman, who has lived in the same Shepard Avenue home with her husband for 35 years.

Still, she understands why contractors are delayed.

“Because of the expected bad weather (Sunday), they’re doing any houses that have roof leakage or whatever to get them first because they figure they’re trying to save the houses. Then, they’ll go to the driveways,” she said.

Pregman remains hopeful that she and her husband will have their driveway cleared sometime this weekend.

“We’re down to one cooler and all the ice is melted and you know we’re just about out of food we’ve been eating,” she said with a smile.

So much destruction and so many insurance questions.

“Most insurance policies will provide some limited coverage for falling trees,” said Paul Esposito, the branch manager for CT Insurance Store in Hamden.

For covered structures, whether dwellings or detached, he says expect no more $500-$1000 to remove fallen trees, no matter how many. And, if they simply fall in you our yard?

“That coverage would be a little bit more limited,” Esposito said. “Maybe in most cases about $500 to clean up the fallen tree.

There will be extra police patrols in Hamden neighborhoods that have been hit hard and the chief asks that residents be vigilant.

“When you need help getting trees and limbs removed from your property, make sure you don’t get scammed,” said Chief Thomas Wydra. “Make sure you see proof of identification. Make sure the company has insurance.”

And he said don’t pay with cash.

Mayor Curt Leng said United Illuminating had at least 40 trucks working in town Friday and a UI spokesperson said power should be fully restored to Hamden by Sunday night.

Sleeping Giant is one of numerous state parks that are closed because of storm damage and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is encouraging people to stay away from the closed parks for their own safety.

Once Mount Caramel Avenue was reopened to traffic and clear of tree debris, folks got their first close up look at the damage done to Sleeping Giant’s picnic area.

“It’s honestly kind of emotional,” said Hailey Wilson of Meriden. “It's like I look at it to know that I was the last person to see it standing the way it was before the storm took over.”

She was high atop the park at the tower, from which she captured amazing photos just before the tornado touched down.

“When I took it, I didn’t even, I looked at my phone and I said 'oh my gosh' and I ran for cover. I was in total disbelief,” she said.

Wilson said she comes to the park to run the trails 3 to 4 times a week and after hearing the forecast, she thought the tower would give her a great vantage point.

“I saw that there was a storm in Hartford so I thought I was safe,” she said.

When she reached the tower, she said she quickly realized she had only a couple of minutes before the storm would be upon them.

“I didn’t even get a chance to take anything on my digital camera,” she noted. “Everything got so windy and wet I had to keep it covered safe. It was my iPhone that did all the work.”

And, while the damage to the trees is breathtaking, it could’ve been so much worse.

“This was a campground that we shut down in the 80s,” said former Sleeping Giant Park Ranger George Sweeney, as he pointed to an area just beyond the parking lot. “And I can’t imagine if it was, if it was going on right now. People wouldn’t be alive.”

The current park supervisor said they’re hoping that some loggers will come in and salvage some of the pines if not go get a private contractor in to grind them up.

“I was really surprised when I came outside and looked up and to the picnic area what used to be to the picnic area,” said Jill Scheibenpflug.

She said peeking out of her home, on the property, was like being inside of a washing machine.

DEEP officials expect Sleeping Giant and the other three parks that were closed to be reopened sometime over the next several days.