Milford storm update: Streets will be clear by day's end, no school until Thursday

Monday’s rain is making messy and harder work of street clearing, which Public Works Director Bruce Kolwicz said is progressing.

By about 11 a.m. Monday, three quarters of the city’s 1,200 roads had seen some clearing, and the rest were expected to be passable by the end of the day.

The National Guard is coming in to help with snow removal, Mayor Ben Blake said, adding, “It’s all hands on deck.”

Hundreds of plows have been on the city roads since Friday. That includes the public works fleet, plus 12 private contractors and 16 payloaders to help move the snow.

“When you have more than 24 inches of snow, it’s a different matter than just plowing the streets,” Blake said, noting that Milford got 38 inches of snow. “You have to lift it and move it somewhere else.”

City crews started clearing main roads first, then secondary roads. Many side streets and cul de sacs remained snow covered Monday morning, and many residents were forced to take the day off work.

“This is the most snow we’ve ever had in Milford,” Blake said, “even more than in 1978. And then, it took the state two weeks to dig out. We are way ahead of that.”

Milford and Hamden appear to have gotten hit the hardest with snowfall. Even a Wall Street Journal reporter made her way to a news conference at Milford City Hall Monday, when the mayor updated the media on storm cleanup.

She came, she said, because the blizzard here was such a big event.

The city’s emergency directors, while appearing confident that they have been doing everything possible to clear the roads and get people out of their driveways, they admitted that Blizzard Nemo is like nothing the city has seen in terms of snowfall.

“By no means was this easy,” Kolwicz said.

There were no critical injuries due to the storm, said Fire Chief Robert Healey, but he said one resident lost fingers after an accident with a snow blower.

He said city firefighters have responded to calls of chest pain and the like, but he wasn’t sure yet if those were routine or storm related. He knows of no storm-related deaths in Milford. In some cases, emergency responders had to carry residents over snow for some distance to get to an ambulance parked on a main road.

A city parking ban remains in effect until further notice, meaning residents have to adhere to alternate side of the street parking.

Schools will remain closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Trash will not be picked up until Wednesday. People who normally have their trash picked up Monday will have it picked up Wednesday; trash picked up Tuesday will be picked up Thursday; trash picked up Thursday will be picked up Friday, and trash picked up normally on Friday will be picked up on Saturday.

Mayor Blake could not yet estimate how much the blizzard will cost Milford for outside plowing contractors, overtime and the like. But Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said cities such as Milford will get 75% of their expenses for one 48-hour period reimbursed through a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program.

Blake said once costs are in, city leaders will determine which 48 hours were the most costly.

Officials continue to urge caution. With rain on top of snow, Chief Healey said, “This is heart attack snow,” and said people should be careful shoveling.

People should make sure heating vents outside their homes are clear of snow, and they should use caution when driving because of high snow banks, officials said.

Police Chief Keith Mello said people who don’t have to drive are still urged to stay off the roads.