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Intense Thunderstorm Hits Riverside Neighborhood Hard

A severe thunderstorm, which passed through the area Tuesday evening, focused its strongest wind energy in the Riverside section of Sandy Hook, causing many trees to fall, resulting in extensive property damage and electrical outages in that neighborhood along Lake Zoar, near Interstate 84.

The storm, which tracked from northwest to southeast, caused an intense, isolated pocket of damage as it struck Riverside at about 7:30 pm, lasting for about 30 minutes. The National Weather Service had issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for the area at 7 pm. The warning was in effect for 45 minutes. 

Sandy Hook volunteer firefighters responded to 16 storm-related emergency calls between 7:31 and 11:02 pm.

Anthony Capozziello, who was Sandy Hook’s acting fire chief during the storm,  said that much of the damage occurred along the Waterview Drive section of Riverside. There were no injuries due to the storm, he said.

Connecticut Light & Power Company spokesman Mitch Gross said that at about 8 pm on Tuesday, CL&P received reports of 254 electrical outages in Newtown. That number rose to 288 outages by midnight. After electrical restoration work, that number had dropped to 89 outages by 10 am Wednesday. CL&P crews would continue making repairs to fully restore power, he said.

Mr Gross noted that the New Milford area was very hard hit by the storm with extensive outages there.

Fallen trees near the two entrances to the Riverside neighborhood limited vehicle access to that area for several hours after the storm hit, Mr Capozziello said.

On Waterview Drive and Lake Drive, trees fell onto houses, he said.

Sandy Hook firefighters were very busy, moving from one call to the next after the storm hit. They responded to calls at locations including Jo-Mar Drive, Waterview Drive, Riverside Road, Alpine Drive, Underhill Road, Shady Rest Boulevard, Valley Field Road South, Alpine Circle, Cherry Street, Beechwood Drive, Lake Drive, and Algonquin Trail.

About 20 Sandy Hook firefighters responded to the calls, some of which involved trees which were uprooted by the intense winds, he said.

The only fire which firefighters encountered involved some primary-grade electrical lines which were burning  along Riverside Road, Mr Capozziello said.

Mr Capozziello said he has not seen a storm in years where such heavy damage was so isolated.

Fred Hurley, town director of public works, said that as of 9:20 am on Wednesday, five local roads remained closed to traffic due to fallen trees/wires. They were Waterview Drive, Alpine Drive, Alpine Circle, Jo-Mar Drive, and Valley Field Road South. All streets were expected to be reopened before dark on Wednesday, he said.

At one point after the storm, there were at least 20 roads with storm debris on them, he said.

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