FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Some shoreline residents spent the night stranded in their homes by floodwaters as Superstorm Sandy pummeled the state with a devastating storm surge and high winds, killing at least two people and damaging property from Stonington to Greenwich.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy took to television and radio to warn those trapped not to attempt to swim to safety, and officials asked those in need of help to hang white sheets or towels from their windows.
National Guard troops assisted in rescue efforts overnight, especially in the western part of the shoreline, where the Sound narrows and the water levels were the highest, the governor said.
"I assume by now everyone who needed to be evacuated is evacuated or will be able to walk out of their premises at the light of day," Malloy told WTIC-TV Tuesday morning. "We sent crews in high-water boats, troops, reinforcements to places throughout the state."
Two people were killed by falling trees on opposite sides of the state. In Easton, a firefighter died when the truck he was riding in was hit by a tree before 6 p.m.
A 90-year old Mansfield woman was killed and two family members were seriously injured when a tree fell on them. The family had lost power and was trying to make its way to the home of a neighbor who still had electricity, said Lt. J. Paul Vance.
Olga Raymond was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Coast Guard was searching for a 40-year-old man who disappeared in the waters off Milford. Authorities say Brian Bakunas was last seen swimming in heavy surf near the Walnut Beach Pier shortly before 8 p.m.
Fire crews in Greenwich and Old Saybrook watched helplessly as several homes burned in beach areas cut off by floodwaters. No injuries were reported in those fires.
Old Saybrook fire Chief Chief J.T. Dunn told WVIT-TV that a team of firefighters in water rescue suits used a retired military vehicle to try to rescue anyone remaining in the two burning homes at Chalker Beach, but the vehicle lost electrical systems in the floodwaters, and they couldn't continue to the fire because the water was several feet deep.
More than 615,000 customers were remained without power Tuesday morning.
About 360,000 people in 30 towns were urged to leave their homes under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders, but Malloy said it was apparent that towns and residents did not all take the warnings seriously enough. He said he suspected there were thousands in harm's way and he would worry later about "who should have done what."
Earlier Monday, officials including Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch knocked on doors as water began spilling into the city.
"The water's got no place to go. It's been pushed all the way up the coast into this funnel," Finch said.
United Illuminating was forced to shut off three substations in the city to prevent seawater from hitting energized equipment and causing a catastrophic failure.
Connecticut Light & Power workers spent most of Monday constructing a 6-foot concrete wall around a substation in Stamford in an attempt to keep the water at bay.
Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia said city officials were concerned the storm surge could push water over a hurricane barrier built by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect the downtown area after hurricanes in 1938, 1955 and 1956. If the surge reached 12 feet, it could push water over the barrier and flood downtown Stamford.
"That is something that we can't even imagine," Pavia said. "I always believed it was impregnable."
The storm surge exceeded 13 feet in western Long Island Sound, driven partly by a full moon and high tides, forecasters said, and officials feared winds from the massive storm would keep the water from draining at low tide.
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