Bridgeport, Conn. (WTNH) - The NationalWeather Service confirms a tornado ripped through Bridgeport onThursday.
Thousands of homes and businesses in Bridgeportand Stratford and surrounding communities remain without powerFriday after a violent storm damaged homes and buildings.
During a Friday morning walk through, Mayor Bill Finch and Sen.Chris Dodd said the hardest hit areas of Bridgeport were the eastend and the downtown area.
States of emergency were declared in Bridgeport and part ofStratford because of the damage, and a 5:30 p.m. curfew was ineffect until further notice. The states of emergency and the curfewwere lifted Friday. However, the emergency call center inBridgeport got more that 2,500 calls and the governor brought inhomeland security. Several other towns also responded to Bridgeportto provide mutual aid.
At the height of the storm, United Illuminating reported about24,000 outages and CL&P reported 4,800. Friday afternoon, UIreported just over 14,500 and CL&P reported 120. In total, 40UI crews were out on the streets trying to restore power to areacustomers.
The storm damaged dozens of buildings in Bridgeport and injuredmore than two dozen people. The Exit 28 off ramp from I-95Northbound will remain closed due to storm related damage on EastMain St., state police said Friday.
Two shelters were opened for families without a place to stay.About 100 people took advantage of them and about nine stayedovernight. Mayor Finch tells News 8 about 50 families are homelessfollowing the storm. "We'll be working 'round the clock' to provideemergency housing for the many people who have been displaced fromtheir homes or apartments, due to power outages or damage to thebuilding," said Mayor Finch.
Beardsley and Seaside Parks will remain open, but suffereddamage.
"This storm hit the most ferocious in the neighborhood that canafford it the least. This is a poor community. People have no roofson their homes down here, it's very difficult," Bridgeport MayorBill Finch said. "I've never seen a storm do so much damage in sucha short period of time."
"All of a sudden, it was really windy," said Luis Quinones ofBridgeport. Moments later "everything just collapsed. Everythingjust collapsed! Bricks started falling, bricks fell on our porch -disaster!"
"We've talked to a couple of people who have lost everything,"said Governor Jodi Rell, who drove down to the city to see thedamage first hand. Following the storm, Rell issued this statement:"The tornado touched down for just a short period of time, but itwill take several weeks, perhaps months to put so many lives andlivelihoods back together," said Governor Rell. "The state today isformally requesting that FEMA begin the damage assessment processfor everyone affected by yesterday's severe weather as the firststep in potential federal disaster assistance."
“My heart goes out to the victims of the Bridgeporttornado," said Rep. Jim Himes. "I plan to personally survey thedamage today and will do everything I can to help. Our firstresponders and local leaders have served the community admirably,and I appreciate everything they have done in their immediateresponse to the storm and in the continuing effort to keep us safe,clean up the city, and mitigate the damage.”
The City of Bridgeport even postponed their fireworks show onthe fourth of July due to the severe storm.
The Lordship section of Stratford was also hit very hard by thestorm. Like Bridgeport, there are branches down, trees uprooted andpower lines on the ground.
Immediately after the storm Connecticut state troopers werecalled in to help Bridgeport police deal with traffic control andto help search for anyone trapped. State police spokesman Lt. J.Paul Vance said Friday State Police Canine Teams have now completedtheir searches in the debris fields.
Mayor Finch said some people won't be allowed back into some ofthe buildings for at least a year. Other buildings will becondemned.
Even though Bridgeport and Stratford were the hardest hitcities, Fairfield got smacked with a lot of damage too. TheFairfield Fire Department reports that they responded to 40emergencies throughout the town in the aftermath. Fairfield said alot of their units also went to Bridgeport to help them out.
"We were ready to assist Bridgeport when they called for mutualaid in responding to the devastation that struck our neighboringcommunity," said Asst. Chief Chris Tracy.
Bridgeport residents impacted by the storm and who need help areurged to call Bridgeport's Emergency Operations Center at203-579-3820.
If anyone is in need of a shelter in storm struck territory, thecity urges them to call 203-579-3820.
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