Winds from Hurricane Sandy toppled trees, sending large ones crashing down, oftentimes taking power lines with them. One landed on top of a substation on Fan Hill Road blacking out many homes.
On Tuesday morning the buzzing of chainsaws could be hear around town as Department of Public Works crews and residents cut fallen trunks into more manageable sections as a major clean up of trees and brush got underway.
First Selectman Steve Vavrek said this massive clean up effort must be completed to allow lines crews to repair the power grid and restore full power to homes and businesses throughout the town.
"This is not like last storm with branches — these are trees," Vavrek said Tuesday night. "Our DPW crews in Monroe are working around the clock on the clean up."
The first selectman also praised the town's emergency responders for keeping crews up-to-date on the hardest hit areas.
Police Capt. Michael Flick and DPW Deputy Dir. Chris Nowacki performed an assessment of the storm damage on Tuesday afternoon. Both were frustrated at seeing drivers on the road for non-emergencies, some of them moving cones and yellow caution tape aside to get through areas that were marked as hazards.
"I can't believe the amount of people out and about during the state of emergency in the state," Flick said while driving with Nowacki. "Emergency services and the DPW crews are trying to assess the damage and they're (the drivers) putting their families at risk with children in the cars."
Nowacki said work crews constantly having to stop what they're doing to signal to drivers to turn around slows down the progress of getting Monroe back on line.
"We're trying to maximize the response in the daylight hours for assessments and any road openings or restoration when possible," Nowacki said.
The first selectman echoed those concerns.
"I highly recommend that people stay home and listen to their emergency management people to stay off the roads," Vavrek said. "I saw too many people today driving through barricades. I saw too many people walking under tape."
Public officials also warn residents to stay away from hanging or downed power lines, which may be live.
As of 8 p.m., CL&P's Outage Map showed 7,026 or 88% of its 7,906 Monroe customers were without power. Vavrek offered no guess as to when power will be fully restored.
"I know right now that the business coriddors on lower 25 and 111 are up," he said. "As far as predictions, I heard the governor today and there was no positive outlook. He does not know, so I'm not going to make any predictions either."
Vavrek said upwards of 13 lines crews were working in Monroe throughout the day Tuesday, with 10 from Tennessee alone.
Town leaders and emergency personnel will meet with power company representatives every morning until the state of emergency has lifted and residents will be informed through Code Red notifications soon after.
Some residents have asked about showering.
Vavrek said no public showers are available because none of the schools normally used for showers have power and the YMCA is closed down.
Some Monroe Patch Facebook visitors mentioned that Anytime Fitness, 380 Monroe Turnpike, and Planet Fitness are both allowing people to use their showers.