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Tornado touchdown: One year after the destruction in Hamden

New Haven

Wednesday, May 15th, marks one year since devastating tornadoes touched down in Connecticut.

Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands of trees were uprooted during the storm. Nobody worked harder than the Hamden Public Works department to clean up the mess, even though its director originally had plans with his wife for his anniversary.

“We’ll go out and grab a nice dinner, I’ll probably have to take a couple of phone calls, thought that was about it,” said Public Works Director Craig Cesare about how he and his wife thought the night would go. “Little did she know, 4 days later until she would see me again.”

Related: Today marks the one year anniversary since devastating tornadoes touched down in CT

It took at least 4 days just to make the streets passable in some neighborhoods. Then the power crews could move in. 44 thousand United Illuminating customers were in the dark. UI had to rebuild some of the power infrastructure from scratch.

“The residents were really great here in Hamden. They were patient with us,” said Chuck Eves, United Illuminating’s Vice President of Electric Operations. “They brought heir grills out, they would our crews and provide them with water and coffee.”

Related: 86 homes destroyed by tornado in Hamden, state calling on FEMA

United Illuninating had been trimming tree limbs above power lines since Irene to try to protect service.

“Now, in events like this, where the trees come sideways, that has kind of minimal impact,” said Eves.

There’s nothing you can do except work fast to clean it up, which is exactly what all those workers did. But it was not cheap.

“Our final was approximately $3 million that it cost us between our salaries, the overtime, the police, all the outside contractors we used,” said Cesare.

Hamden is hoping to get some of that back from FEMA. In the meantime, all those workers are hoping Hamden stops being the bullseye for extreme weather.

“Hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms on Halloween, you name it, we’ve seen it,” said Cesare. “And to cap it all off, a tornado, so let’s hope we’re done with the natural disasters here in Hamden.”

Remember, they had an ice storm this past January that brought down a bunch more trees. The town has actually done a round of tree planting this spring to try to replace some of what was lost.

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