As our community celebrates the holiday season, I would like to take this opportunity to give thanks to the tremendous number of town and school employees, residents, volunteers, local businesses and organizations for stepping forward to help our town during and following Storm Sandy. Our town is deeply grateful for the donations of food, blankets, baby supplies, clothes, money, cleaning supplies, goods and services, time and to those of you who opened your homes to friends and neighbors. I would ask that we keep all those badly affected by the storm in our thoughts and prayers. We are all in this together.
Fairfield was one of the hardest hit towns in Connecticut. More than 22,000 homes lost power. More than 1,000 trees or parts thereof came down along our town roadways and another 1,000 came down on town properties. At the height of the storm, there were more than 300 road blockages and major flooding occurred. Public and private schools were closed for days along with town buildings. Many of our businesses and local organizations were also affected.
Despite the devastation left by the storm, our community became even stronger and closer as we helped one another. The outpouring of support that still continues today is impressive as it touches every facet of our town. That spirit of giving to others is what makes Fairfield so special.
I commend the leadership of Fairfield’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for working around the clock in order to ensure our citizens’ safety. As I joined this outstanding team for two weeks, I couldn’t be more impressed with their expertise and dedication to our town.
Every town department played a role in this storm. This town could not have been cleaned up and kept safe without the outstanding work of our town and school employees who set aside their own troubles at home with power outages and tree damage to come into work to serve their town. In fact, many employees came in when they didn’t have to or stayed much later than asked because they did not want to let their community down. These are your public servants at their best. These are the people behind the scenes who go above and beyond.
The town is also deeply grateful to the dedicated resident volunteers who ran the shelter; those who donated goods to the shelter; our tireless volunteers who ran the storm call-in center; our volunteer fire departments; the town’s appointed and elected officials; our federal and state delegation; the governor and lieutenant governor; the State Environmental Conservation Police (EnCon); the Urban Search and Rescue Team; the National Guard; Operation Hope; Carolton Hospital; our two universities; Fairfield’s scouts and police explorers; local churches and synagogues; Salvation Army, Red Cross and Connecticut Food Bank.
A special thank you to the three inspiring women who grew up in Fairfield for spearheading the largest volunteer clean-up effort in the town’s history with more than 1,000 volunteers assisting homeowners on more than 70 streets in our beach area. While there are so many of you who remain unnamed, we are very grateful to all the individuals, organizations and businesses that helped make a difference on this special day.
While we cannot predict what Mother Nature may have in store for us, we can count on one another to get us through difficult times like these. Storm Sandy showed us that Fairfield is resilient and as strong as ever. It is a great testament to who we are as a community when we see such an extraordinary level of kindness, selflessness and dedication on the part of so many.
This holiday season, let’s not forgot our fellow residents who are still in need. Let’s be grateful to what is most precious to us — family and community. I wish our Fairfield community a happy and healthy holiday season and a heartfelt thank you for everything each and every person did during this storm.
Michael C. Tetreau is first selectman of Fairfield.