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One Year Later: Hamden still recovering following tornado

HAMDEN - Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the tornado that devastated several communities, including Hamden, which has still not completely recovered.

Sleeping Giant State Park been completely re-shaped as a result of last year‘s tornado, but so to have many parts of the northern section of Hamden, where those involved in the cleanup are still amazed at the damage they faced.

"This is a storm that we will remember for the rest of our lives," said Kyle Delucia

Owner of K & J Tree Service.

"The first week after the tornado, our office actually received over 5000 calls and that’s a real number," he said.

Typically, K and J Tree Service receives 150 calls per week. So, they nearly doubled their workforce for several months.

"We had over 100 guys on the ground," he said. "We brought in six extra cranes to work with our crews."

And they were going full steam ahead through the end of August. He says they still. have fully completely the work.

At Hamden Public Works, Craig Cesare, the Director, says he’ll never forget May 15, 2018.

"My 20th wedding anniversary," he said, with a chuckle.

But, there would be no celebrating.

"I told my wife 'listen, they’re calling for a bad storm. I’ll have a couple of trees down. We’ll go out for a nice dinner.' I didn’t see her for four days," Cesare said.

He said he and his Assistant Director stood in the Public Works parking lot and watched in disbelief.

"We literally watched it roll in," Cesare said.

Then, they became rescuers.

"We had cars flying in (the parking lot) here," said Cesare. "We helped women get babies out of the car so they could come inside for shelter. Large tree down across the road almost hit a car right over here."

United illuminating said they too were stunned by magnitude of the destruction.

"In a very small concentrated area, we ended up putting in about 18 miles of new wire, 350 poles and over 200 transformers," said Tony Marone, the President and CEO of UIL Holdings, the parent company of UI.

He says he’s very proud of the UI crews, whose had work was so appreciated by Hamden and North Haven residents.

"Coming out giving our crews water and pizzas and lighting their grills and so forth," he said.

And while power has been restored, the scars remain.

"It’s only the beginning," Cesare said. "We got a lot to do."

Sleeping Giant State Park is expected to reopen sometime after Memorial Day.

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