FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) — National Guard troops joined state crews to clear Connecticut roads Saturday and rescue stranded motorists following a massive storm that dumped as much as 3 feet of snow, making travel nearly impossible even for emergency responders who found themselves stuck on highways.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said 270 guard troops were deployed to assist a storm recovery that he says could take a number of days.
The National Guard rescued about 90 people who were stuck on roads including Interstates 91 and 84, some for hours, said Col. John Whitford, a spokesman for the Connecticut National Guard. A few had hypothermia and were taken to hospitals, he said.
A woman in her 80s was killed Friday night in Prospect by a hit-and-run driver as she was clearing snow, Malloy said. Authorities were investigating two other deaths that may have been related to the storm: a 73-year-old man who died when he was apparently cleaning up and fell in Danbury, and a man who was found dead in a driveway in Bridgeport.
For many cities, it was one of the biggest snowfalls of the century. Thirty-five inches of snow were reported in Fairfield, 34 in New Haven and 30 in Bridgeport.
The storm shut down airports, led to a travel ban on state roads until mid-Saturday afternoon and left residents to dig out from piles of snow that left cars completely buried. But compared with other recent storms that battered Connecticut, many were relieved that power outages were not as widespread and the shoreline was spared significant flooding.
In the shoreline community of Fairfield, the sounds of snow blowers filled the air in neighborhoods where it was the buzzing of generators and tree cutters only a few months earlier.
Kathy Niznansky, a 65-year-old teacher who was forced out of her home for two months by Superstorm Sandy, said she was thrilled she was dealing only with snow and not flooding.
“I feel like having a party,” Niznansky said. “I am so, so relieved.”
Scott Bauer, whose Fairfield home was destroyed by Sandy, said his family has been toughened up by the experience. As he dug out from several feet of snow in their second rental home, he said he was happy he didn’t lose power.
“We’ve already been through the ups and down rollercoaster of emotions with losing our home and the kids moving twice now,” he said. “I think they are hardened by the storm, so they’re definitely a little tougher now and they realize that this really isn’t that bad.”
Still, the road conditions caused plenty of headaches. State police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said there were more than 240 accidents since the storm, including 19 with injuries.
Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau said emergency vehicles got stuck in the snow all night. The roads were in such bad shape that police and firefighters could not come in to work, so the overnight shift was staying on duty.
“It’s a real challenge out there,” Tetreau said. “We are asking everyone to stay home and stay safe.”
The National Guard also transported elderly residents of assisted living facilities in East Lyme and Old Lyme to shelters after they lost power, Whitford said.
At Bradley Airport, executive director Kevin Dillon said the airport could open for arrivals later Saturday, but he did not anticipate departures until Sunday.
Bill Tsoronis used a snow blower to carve paths through huge snow drifts in his South Windsor neighborhood.
“I thought we might have 18 or 20 inches, but in some places it’s up to my waist. It’s more than I expected,” he said. Still, he said the storm was not much more than a nuisance, since the neighborhood still had power, and he said he might gather with neighbors for cocktails later in the day.
The state’s largest utility, Connecticut Light & Power, reported power failures affecting 38,000 homes and businesses, representing 3 percent of its customers. Hardest-hit were communities in southeastern Connecticut such as North Stonington, where 74 percent of customers were without power.
United Illuminating, which serves power customers in southwestern Connecticut, said power failures affected about 200 customers Saturday. Its crews restored power to 1,900 customers overnight.
Associated Press writer Michael Melia in South Windsor contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.