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Weather Disasters Are Not New to Monroe

The Monroe of old had its fair share too

I hope by now all of Monroe has had its power fully restored.

This has been one heck of a week, hasn't it? Massive power outages, property damage from wind and rain and a coma-like response from CL&P have caused just about every Monroe resident enough grief to last a very long time.

I’m sure you’ll all look back on this as one of those "remember when ..." moments.

But lest you're beginning to feel a little like the biblical Job, let me assure you that Monroe has a long history of such events. 

There have been blizzards, ice storms and many, many hurricanes — the most memorable of which were those that occurred in 1955.

No one my age will ever forget first Hurricane Connie followed by Hurricane Diane which occurred almost exactly 56 years ago.

These two back-to-back events caused widespread devastation. 

If one were to visit some of the old factory buildings in the Housatonic valley towns of Seymour, Shelton, Derby, Ansonia and Naugatuck you would still see the marks on now closed old factory buildings where flood waters had reached.

The residents of Monroe were no less affected. Just about every family, mine included, dealt with flooded basements and yards, prolonged and widespread power outages, blocked roads, critically low water and food supplies — exactly what you all have been going through this past week.

At least in one respect those days were similar to today's times. There was an outpouring of community spirit with neighbors reaching out to neighbors and strangers reaching out to strangers. 

Police, volunteer fire departments and town highway workers labored tirelessly to help those in need.

The biggest difference however lies in the level of communications that exists today.

Whereas Monroe of 1955  relied solely on word of mouth, newspapers and battery operated radios, today we have a variety of devices that have access to emails or web sites. 

This is true even if your neighborhood has no electricity, as long as you have a charged cell phone or a tablet computer of some kind and an operating cell tower somewhere, you can be in touch.

For example in my own particular situation, even though we had electricity, we did not have cable service which provides our family with TV, Internet and telephone.

What we did have, though, were two working cell phones and an iPad with networking capability. Consequently we were able to monitor Newtown and Monroe Patch for important updates on what was going on.

And I know our situation is not unique judging by the stream of comments that were posted on Monroe Patch along with the almost constant updates posted by Monroe Patch editor Bill Bittar who by now is probably exhausted.

Sophisticated communications such as these were not at all possible in the Monroe of my youth. Instead we made frequent visits to our neighbors (not necessarily a bad thing) to share news or we stayed glued to our radios. 

Beyond that we could do nothing but wait for the happy sight of town crews and the utility company trucks to come down our road. 

There were no community centers to go to for showers or food or in the event of a winter storm, heat and shelter. These were all things we tried to plan for in the normal course of our lives.

It's not that today's society has gotten soft or overly dependent on electricity. It's just that we've built our lives around the expectation that it will be there when we need it — until last week, that is. (CL&P definitely has some explaining to do.)

But wait. What's that news report I just heard? Something about a Hurricane Katia just formed ... Uh oh!

Life in Monroe, small town America.

Those were the days.  

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