Surge ‘wasn’t even close’ to breaching hurricane barrier in Stamford

The highest recorded ocean level in Stamford Monday was 11 feet, with a 8.7 foot surge at 10:26 p.m., according to Ted Jankowski, the city’s director of public safety.

“The surge never breached the hurricane wall. It wasn’t even close,” Jankowski said shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday. “The hurricane wall is 17 feet, and the highest ocean level was 11 feet, so we had 6 feet to go.”

Earlier in the evening, Mayor Michael A. Pavia had ordered neighborhoods near the hurricane wall to be evacuated.

“Basically when the issue of the hurricane barrier came up in Stamford it was indicated that the hurricane barrier itself could be topped,” Pavia said Monday. “Hopefully it shouldn’t happen and we’re hoping that it doesn’t happen but we’re taking precautions in case it does.”

Pavia’s hopes seemed to come true as Sandy sailed through the area Monday afternoon and evening. There were no serious injuries reported in Stamford during the storm, according to Jankowski.

By early Tuesday morning, most of the water had receded, and Jankowski said he expected much lower water levels Tuesday.

“Tomorrow’s high tide is supposed to be 7 foot at the ocean level and a 2.3 foot surge,” he said.

But while coastal flooding will be much less severe Tuesday, Jankowski urged residents that the time for safety has not yet passed.

“We could still have high wind velocities Tuesday. When Stamford residents wake up, they should be careful of the winds and any projectiles, as well as downed trees and downed wires,” he said.

While more than half of the city was without power as of early Tuesday morning, Jankowski said there are 15 Connecticut Light & Power crews on the ground throughout the city and he expects the outage number to decrease steadily. In the mean time, there are more than 700 Stamford residents in the three shelters set up throughout the city. Stamford High School was at full occupancy Monday night with 500 people camped out there, while Rippowam Middle School had room to grow with 200 guests. There wasn’t a single person staying at Scofield Magnet Middle School, according to Jankowski.

“I think the emergency responders performed exceptionally. Most Stamford residents were prepared for this incident, and as a whole, the city did very well,” Jankowski said.

Maggie Gordon