Storm hits Naugatuck hard

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Water rushes down a hill behind the Mobil gas station on South Main Street in Naugatuck Wednesday afternoon and floods the parking lot. Heavy rain caused flash flooding throughout Naugatuck. –LUKE MARHSALL

NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck took the brunt of severe rains that ripped through the area Wednesday causing flash floods throughout the borough.

The heavy rains began early Wednesday afternoon dropping an unofficial count of 6 inches of rain, according to Mayor Robert Mezzo, who posted the information on his blog. After a brief hiatus, the rains started again at around 6 p.m.

The onslaught of rain caused major flooding in areas. Two apartment buildings were evacuated — Prospect Manor  on Prospect Street due to flooding in the basement, which houses electrical meters for the units, and another at 55 Trowbridge Place, Naugatuck Police Department spokesman Lt. Robert Harrison said. He said “numerous” people were evacuated.

Other hard hit areas included Aetna Street.

At 30 Aetna St. the rushing waters washed away the retaining wall, part of the driveway, and a dumpster into the parking lot of the Cosmetology Center on Rubber Avenue a little after 3 p.m.

Naugatuck resident Frank Ruela, whose father David owns the multi-family home, said with the pressure building up against the wall from the water it just gave way. Ruela said no one was hurt when the wall gave way.

Flash flooding caused by heavy rains washed away the retaining wall at 30 Aetna St. in Naugatuck Wednesday afternoon. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

A Ford F150 pickup truck was nearly washed away with the retaining wall but was hanging on as of about 5:45 p.m.

Hillside Avenue was also hit hard as water ripped up a path leading to Hillside Intermediate School, reportedly tossing manhole covers, and flooding Meadow Street.

Harrison said no injuries were reported during the storms.

Due to the flooding, Mezzo declared a state of emergency in Naugatuck at 4 p.m. The Naugatuck Senior Center on Meadow Street is operating as an emergency shelter.

A state of emergency must be declared for the borough to apply for relief funds from the state or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The damage done in Naugatuck drew the attention of Gov. Dannel Malloy, who met with Mezzo Wednesday evening to tour the borough.

“Our weather is becoming rapidly more variable. This is becoming the new normal,” said Malloy, during an impromptu press conference at the police station, about the storm.

Malloy said the state has offered the borough the use of any equipment and personnel it needs. Malloy said he is merely providing support as local officials take the lead.

Gov. Dannel Malloy (left) and Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo before leaving to tour the damage in Naugatuck following an impromptu press conference at the Naugatuck Police Department. –LUKE MARHSALL.

On Thursday, Malloy said state officials will come to the borough to inspect the footings of the bridges in town to ensure they are structurally sound.

Nearly two dozen roads along with the exit ramps at exits 26, 27, and 28 on Route 8 were closed during the day. As of this post, the exits were open as were most of the roads. (For a list of compromised roads, visit the mayor’s blog.)

Mezzo posted on his blog that public works and public safety personnel are assessing the damage. A travel advisory was in effect as of this post. Anyone who must drive is encouraged to do so with extreme caution.

Naugatuck residents can call (203) 729-5222 to report problems related to blocked and/or flooded roads. Residents requiring basement pumping can call the Naugatuck Fire Department at (203) 720-7084.

Mezzo said he will provide updates as available on his blog.

No major incidents were reported in Beacon Falls or Prospect.