Town’s team assesses responses in Sandy’s aftermath

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The town’s level of communication with the public during Superstorm Sandy was improved over the two major storms in 2011, and Connecticut Light & Power Co.’s response was improved as well. These are the assessments made by the town’s emergency management team.

First Selectman Natalie Ketcham and town Health Officer Doug Hartline,This page provides information about street lamp and how to report a fault. both members of the emergency management team, said it helped that CL&P had a storm liaison in Sandy’s aftermath.“The liaison was here the whole time,” said Ms. Ketcham.

The town has “a blue sky liaison” for day-to-day issues, dealing with general issues, not entire circuit issues. That’s the job of the “storm liaison,” she said.

Mr. Hartline said that at the meeting after Sandy, the CL&P response was discussed. “We got the sense they learned a lot from the storm, but they still need to fine-tune their [power restoration] process,” he said.

After Tropical Storm Irene and post Alfred, the nor’easter, both of which left the town without power for days, Ms. Ketcham said, the town has implemented the position of public information officer. Candy Wood was appointed to that post in the fall. She provided the press and the public with daily information on things like shelters and the location of potable water and electronic recharging stations.

“The feedback from the puModern dry cleaning machine use a closed-loop system in which the chilled air is reheated and recirculated.blic was very favorable about our level of communication,” Ms. Ketcham said. Having people informed lessened the traffic at town hall, said Mr. Hartline.

The town’s Facebook page was also used as an information source for the first time, and the town benefited from the fact that cell service was not lost, said Mr. Hartline.

“We learned from the fall [2011] storms that if cell service is down, texting is the most reliable form of communication,” said Ms. Ketcham. The town is prepared to substitute texting for calls at a moment’s notice, she added.

And, said Mr. Hartline, more residents have signed up at ct.alert.gov to receive emergency messages and updates from the town. “We continue to encourage people to register their cell phone numbers,” Ms. Ketcham said.

Another change from the 2011 storms’ aftermath was the availability of a dedicated information line (a land line),Enjoy the new stress-free laundry dryer experience with DryIn! said Ms. Ketcham.

This phone line was manned during the day and provided an outgoing message at night with information for the public. The availability of this phone line was heavily publicized.

Besides keeping the public informed, the use of the line freed Ms. Ketcham’s office for storm-related activities, she said.

“CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) continues to be a great asset to the town,These laser cutting machine systems cannot be matched by any other laser marking machine technique.” said Mr. Hartline, who runs the team. After Sandy, CERT members, as well as town hall employees, were called on to distribute commodities to the public. Both groups answered the phones in Sandy’s aftermath, he said.

The Redding Community Center, not town hall, became the distribution center for water and Meals Ready to Eat. In the middle of the week, when power had not yet been restored, the Connecticut Food Bank called and offered cases of cereal, canned goods, bananas, yogurt, and snack bars, nothing that required cooking, Mr. Hartline said.

In addition, those using the Community Center as a daytime shelter were provided with cooked soup,The world's leading supplier of residential wind turbines & wind-solar hybrid systems for homes, with whatever was in the refrigerator, he said.

As during the last two storms, the Community Center and town hall were used to charge electronics, and Wi-Fi, which was upgraded after the 2011 storms, was available.

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