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After the Storm: Tolland Pulls Together

Residents are flocking to the shelters, water lines as widespread power outages persist.

Tolland is still reeling from the effects of , which has left the majority of Tolland residents without electricity, heat, and for many on well systems, without water.

Tolland Fire Department Public Information Officer Seale Tuttle said that the town was hit hard by the unusual October storm, with fallen trees, wires and poles devastating Tolland's roads and power structure.

"This is ten times the property damage of the hurricane," Tuttle said, explaining that difficulties arise because it is dangerous and forbidden for town crews to clear blocked roads that include downed wires without assistance from CL&P. Such obstacles are common due to the wet, heavy snowfall.

The list of Tolland's  is extensive, so much so that the Highway Department and fire department have run out of barriers, according to Emergency Management Director and Fire Chief John Littell. 

The damage from this weekend's storm has caused power outages and resulted in over a hundred service calls and about ten transformer fires for the fire department on Saturday night, Littell said.

Several days later, the impact can still be felt, with close to one hundred percent of the town without power on Tuesday afternoon, according to the outage map, with many citizens turning to the town for assistance as residents cope without power, heat and water.

"It's not going to be pretty," Littell said of the town's recovery.

Tolland Emergency Operations Center staff, however, has been working hard to help residents through the difficult days.

An overnight shelter has been opened at , and showers are being offered both at the senior center and at .  has also offered its facilities for Wi-Fi and showering.

On Monday night alone, 284 people showered at the senior center, with another 306 filing through the high school, according to the EOC.

"When I lose power, I lose everything," said Robbie Road resident Richard Bernier. He and his wife took advantage of the showers at Tolland High School and stayed in the senior center overnight on Sunday and Monday after temperatures plummeted to below freezing.

Close to 20 people took advantage of the senior center on Monday night alone, according to the EOC.

Frustration also extended to the roads, with cars lining up and down Route 195 as stations attempted to fulfill the need for car and generator fuel. The Citgo directly across from the Fire Training Center sold around 7,700 gallons of gas on Sunday before losing power in the early evening, according to owner Sami Khan. He said that the station usually sells 2,900 to 3,200 gallons a day.

It's too easy to find stories of property damage and cold nights around town, as Willie Circle resident Charlene Fortenbach demonstrated, while waiting in the shower line at the senior center. She said that she was throwing a Halloween party at her home when trees fell on her family's car and a guest's car. 

"It looks like a war zone in our yard," she said of all of the debris.

Fortenbach said that the storm put a damper on the night's celebration, and she did not take her son trick-or-treating on Monday night, as .

"Was he disappointed today? Yes. But survival at this point is more important," Fortenbach said. 

However, residents tried to create bright moments wherever they could, including young Nathaniel Ottman, disguised as Spider-Man, who showed up to the senior center on Halloween with his parents to trick-or-treat with a generous twist: he handed out candy to others.

The town may not be handing out candy, but residents have been frequenting the fire training center for drinking water and non-potable water. Connecticut Water also donated 10,000 gallons of drinking water today, which was delivered to the EOC. 

Local businesses have also stepped up, with Nerac opening its doors to citizens to charge their cell phones and use the company's Wi-Fi until 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

Residents can shower at the high school until 9 p.m. Tuesday and should bring their own toiletries. The senior center will also be open for the night. Residents wishing to stay overnight should show up by 8 p.m. 

There will be no garbage service on Wednesday, and the library will also be closed, according to the EOC.

Stay tuned to Tolland Patch as the recovery from the October snow storm continues.


 

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