Search on East Rock Tonight
This afternoon, seemingly right above our house, some aircraft were making a lot of noise. It took a while at first for the sound to penetrate (as these things sometimes do) but I would guess that it began some time around 5:00 p.m. I stepped outside at one point but couldn’t see anything. Yet the unmistakable sound of helicopter blades droned on and on.
Now this reminded me of a similar delayed reaction I had last year, when Elena and I were at her sister’s house in west London. Helicopters had circled above the area for several hours before I realised, but there was not a word to be found on the BBC web site, nor on any other news source I could think to check. Tried the radio too. Nothing. As soon as it hit 2:00 p.m., if I recall correctly, stories flooded the news feeds. It was revealed that an “information blackout” had been in effect. It was further revealed that what had been happening in Notting Hill all morning—not two blocks from our house—was a police operation connected to the hunt for suspects in the July Tube bombings. It was weird, to say the least. And it drove home to me the not-even-close to instantaneousness of the web, depending at least on the news sources you use.
Anyway, at some point this evening, maybe around 8:15 p.m., I walked into the study, realised that I could still hear helicopters, and peered out the window towards East Rock. Here are a few photos of the scene.
The west face of East Rock is illuminated with ground search lights and spot lights from two helicopters
One helicopter does a sweep around the entire hill, illuminating the eastern face of the war memorial
Another search light sweeps the southern face of the rock
I’ve been combing the local and national news sites, as well as the BBC (which is sometimes remarkably fast to report on breaking international news)… just in case, but I’ve found nothing. This could mean one of at least two things. Either a major event that is the subject of an “information blackout” (less likely) or a more localised event that the smaller news outlets here have not yet picked up (more likely). A plausible explanation is that someone was hurt or went missing from East Rock.
The search must have utilised a tremendous amount of resources though, since those choppers did not depart until around 9:30 p.m., so by my estimate there was an extensive search underway for about four to five hours. It seems strangely quiet outside now, and we’re waiting for the news to catch up.
Update, May 18: WTNH.com (News Channel 8) reports that emergency services crews took five hours to rescue five teenagers who climbed East Rock this afternoon and then became trapped on the rock face. (The only bad news is that you’ll need Windows and the latest version of Windows Media Player to watch the video.) Since I have a clear view of one of East Rock’s lookouts from my window, and since it was the first time it has stopped raining in about a week, I had looked up there earlier today and noticed a crowd of people perched on top of a stone wall. I was surprised to see so many, but I just took it as a sign that New Englanders waste no time getting outdoors the minute the weather improves. Well no kidding. Kudos to the New Haven Fire Department for conducting a successful recovery operation.