HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A powerful winter storm that swept into the Northeast on Friday caused dozens of car accidents and shortages at gas stations in Connecticut as residents braced for power outages and wind damage along the shoreline, where some are still recovering from Superstorm Sandy.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy declared a state of emergency and deployed National Guard troops around the state in case they're needed for emergencies related to the storm, which was expected to dump up to two feet of snow across the region. Malloy also imposed a travel ban on the state's highways. State police responded to more than 600 calls for service by Friday evening.
Snow began to fall in the state Friday morning amid a blizzard warning issued by the National Weather Service for all of Connecticut, along with other eastern parts of New England. Forecasters expected the worst of the storm to hit into Saturday morning, with heavy snow and wind gusts of up to 60 mph making driving extremely difficult.
In shoreline communities battered most recently by Sandy, residents prepared for the worst-case scenario. Hemlock Hardware in downtown Fairfield was doing a brisk business of selling shovels, batteries, firewood, salt and sand and sleds. The store was getting a lot of calls for generators, too.
"There's definitely a change in response to storms now," said owner Scott Pesavento. "Power outages, I guess, is the first concern now when they hear storm."
Al Terrile, a 69-year-old retired Southport resident, stocked up on batteries, a box of firewood and a light at the hardware store. He lost power for four days during Sandy.
"Maybe nothing will happen but just in case," he said. "It seems like our electrical system has suddenly turned fragile."
Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating, the state's largest electricity suppliers, were planning for up to 30 percent of customers to lose power, Malloy said, and were calling in line crews from out of state. That would be more than 400,000 homes and businesses, although the companies reported only a few scattered outages Friday evening.
Some 1,000 state and private plow crews were clearing the roads.
Schools and colleges were closed, non-essential state employees were told to stay home, and airports were shut down. Some restaurants and other venues were closed at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, but the casinos were planning to stay open through the storm.