Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has closed the Wilbur Cross and Merritt parkways and has declared a ban on tractor-trailer truck traffic on all roads in the state.
The governor announced the road closures and ban this morning during his latest press briefing from the Emergency Operations Center at the State Armory in Hartford.
Malloy said some 240,000 utility customers, mostly homes, are without power across the state this morning (as of 9:55 a.m., that number had jumped to close to 475,000). He also said there has been at least one fatality attributed to the storm. That death was the result of downed wires in Prospect, but Malloy said there was no additional information on the incident. (Editor's Note: Reports state that the downed wires caused a house fire, leading to the death.)
That fatality, he said, serves as a warning to other residents to steer clear of downed wires.
“We’ve already experienced one lost of life,” Malloy said. “What concerns me is that it’s now light out and people (will) decide they want to go out and experience this thing. We’re concerned about the loss of life and injury. Please … do not go near downed wires.”
In all, 32 towns are reporting evacuation measures and there are about 1,600 people staying in emergency shelters, he added.
The state has still not seen the worst of the storm, he said. As Irene exits the state she is expected to drag behind her winds that could reach up to 60 mph, Malloy said.
He said he has called up 900 National Guard troops who stand ready to help with rescue operations once the storm is over. The state’s meteorologist, he said, is still predicting that Irene is a Category 1 hurricane. He also continues to predict that areas along Long Island Sound could experience a storm surge around 11 a.m. when the sound hits high tide.
He warned motorists to stay off the roads today because of the danger of downed wires, trees and flying debris.
Malloy had warned yesterday that he would likely close the Merritt and Wilbur Cross highways as Irene made landfall here. He said he could close additional highways as the storm worsens.
The Housatonic River, he said, is at flood stage and “we have hours to go on precipitation. We’re hitting a real peak period of time.”