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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Heavy Rain, Flooding, Evacuations

A slow-moving Nor'easter will continue to impact the state through Today. This storm is tapping the tropics, resulting in an abundance of moisture and locally heavy rainfall.

Most areas have already received over 2-3 inches of rain by Tuesday morning , and some portions of the state picked up nearly 4-5 inches.

A statewide average of 3 to 6 inches of rain is expected through Tuesday, with locally higher amounts possible. Some areas in the eastern portion of Connecticut could receive up to 8 inches of rain.

Several school districts in Southeastern Connecticut were closed Tuesday, including Bozrah, Norwich, Preston, Stonington, and Voluntown.

• Visit CTNow.com for a full list of school closings.

Stonington Police are evacuating the "Birdland" portion of town off Route 1 due to a high water level at a dam upstream. Tactical Operations Director George Brennan said about 100 to 150 people are being evacuated.

A shelter has opened at Stonington High School, at 176 South Broad Street.

Police have also closed Flanders Road, Mistuxet Ave, River Road, Collins Road, and Route 1 near Masons Island.

The Aquarian Water Company is draining off some excess water in the Dam in Mystic, which police said may cause water levels near Cove Road. Residents in that area have not been evacuated, but are being advised of the potentially higher levels of water "just in case" they choose to leave, Brennan said.

Flooding has also closed roads in several other towns, including Colchester, Montville, Ledyard and North Stonington, state police said this morning.

The state Department of Transportation reports flooding on I-95 South in East Lyme by exits 75 and in Waterford between exits 80 and 81. Drivers are advised not to attempt driving across a flooded roadway.

Route 17A in Portland closed last week and remains closed.

George K. Pytlik, emergency management director for the town of Westbrook, said flooded basements are being called in by the minute. The fire department is currently pumping about half a dozen flooded basements.

"A lot of us old guys are looking back and saying it looks like the flood of '82," he said. "We're holding up the fort. We're gearing up for the flood of '82."

His department is on its way to Mels Road where serious flooding was reported. Several roads in town are closed and Pytlik said he expects beach road to be completely underwater by high tide.

A flood warning is up across Connecticut as rain continues to pour onto saturated ground, causing rivers and streams to over run their banks. The Connecticut River is expected to reach flood levels by late Tuesday, but will not crest until later in the week, according to the National Weather Service.

The American Red Cross has reached out and is making itself available to several communities that are at risk for flooding, said spokesman Paul Shipman.

Storm shelters with cots, blankets and food were prepared in Norwich and Stamford Monday. Only the Norwich shelter was opened, although no one stayed overnight, Shipman said. The shelter is located in a senior center at 8 Mahan Drive. There was no call to open the Stamford shelter.

The Red Cross will continue monitoring the storm by communicating with the state's Emergency Operations Center. Volunteers are on standby for the next few days to help set up and manage shelters, prepare and distribute food, provide emotional support and counseling, and other services, Shipman said.

Most small rivers and streams in the state have reached flood stage or are close to it. Serious flooding problems are predicted along the Yantic River in southeast Connecticut.

The Connecticut River won't crest until sometime late this week, well after the rainfall has stopped falling. Residents in areas prone to flooding are being advised to be ready to react quickly to rising water.

Showers will continue through Wednesday, but then conditions are expected to improve. Thursday through the weekend should bring clear skies and temperatures in the 70s.

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