Bridgeport, Conn. Preps Ahead for Hurricane Season | NECN

Bridgeport, Conn. Preps Ahead for Hurricane Season



    Mayor Bill Finch says city is training people to work together when Mother Nature hits hard (Published Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014)

    (NECN: Brian Burnell, Bridgeport, Conn.) - Seaside Park in Bridgeport is a gem - a beautiful, shoreline oasis.

    But when Mother Nature gets riled up, the park gets ugly. Streets nearby that look idyllic most days turn into a mess very quickly.

    First Tropical Storm Irene, then Hurricane Sandy did serious damage here. Mayor Bill Finch convened this meeting of first responders, relief agencies, the major utility and state officials to try to get a head start on the next storm.  

    Mayor Finch says addressing climate change is the long term solution. But, in the short term, "We've got to train people both at the professional level and at the citizen level to be more competent in how we work with each other. Really refine our skills so that we can do the best we can to get through these wildly diverse weather events that we're facing."

    Some hardening of assets has already been done. This major power substation downtown was flooded during Sandy, knocking out power to a wide area. United Illuminating put up a barrier designed to keep the water out next time.

    It's called Seaside Park for a reason and when there's a heavy storm surge during high tide the park fills up and so do the adjacent neighborhoods.

    Seaside Village is a charming co-op neighborhood next to the park. People here love where they live except when the water comes.

    Samuel L. Johnson, Jr. has live in Seaside Village for years. During the last storm, he says, "The water came through the back door and from the water was all the way up from the floor of the basement all the way up to the ceiling of the basement. There was a stairway that was going upstairs. It tore that up all the way from the foundation."

    According to Deigo Calis, who also lives here, there is a potential solution that has worked in another Connecticut city.

    "Stamford has something in place already. It's a burm that protects the downtown area and we talked about that. After Sandy it was proposed that we might have something like that in Seaside Park," he says.

    The mayor says that is still under consideration and he is also looking at moving the most vulnerable public housing projects away from Long Island Sound.