A rare October snowstorm in 2011 gave Southington all the practice it needed in emergency preparedness as 13,000 homes and businesses, over 80 percent of the town, were left without power. One year later, officials are getting ready to implement a plan in case the worst happens once again.
The direct path that Hurricane Sandy, now classified as a category II hurricane, will follow remains unclear but one thing is for certain – heavy rains and strong winds are coming to Connecticut and Southington is determined to be prepared.
The National Weather Service is calling for the storm to cause an impact as early as Sunday evening, with the heaviest weather expected to impact central Connecticut sometime Tuesday.
“What we’ve done already is to put everybody on alert,” Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback on Thursday afternoon. “We sent out an email checklist to have people start testing things and make sure we are prepared with everything we can be, short of spending money. We will continue to follow the latest updates and are assessing the situation to make sure if does appear likely to hit the state, everything is in place.”
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Southington officials on Thursday began running through a checklist that includes preparing to open a shelter at the Calendar House, setting up a recharge and warming station at Southington Public Library and opening an emergency response center within the communications room at the Southington Police Department.
All three locations are prepared to open on Tuesday morning, according to an email sent from Brumback and Plainville-Southington Health District Director Shane Lockwood on Thursday.
At the police department and Southington Fire Department, personnel have already been placed on standby to be called in should weather adversely affect roads, power or both. Updates on road conditions and outages will be made available using the Southington town website, as well as the Southington Police Department Facebook page.
Lt. Lowell DePalma said following the previous storm, the Facebook page proved an important means of remaining in contact with the public.
“It was our lifeline to let the public know what was going on and what to expect,” DePalma said during the previous interview. “Anytime we received information in our emergency response center, we are able to put it online for the public in real time.”
Southington schools are also in preparation to batten down the hatches and will use it’s website, as well as various local media outlets, to keep in contact with parents and staff regarding any cancellations.
School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi was not available for further comment on Thursday afternoon.
In addition, the town is taking the following steps, Brumback said:
- Preparing for possible road closures with the roads that are susceptible to flooding.
- Southington Fire Department and Captain Peter Kurtz are preparing to send out requests for availability for CERT members for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
- Department heads that control municipal buildings will make sure all property is stored and secure.
- The Parks Department is preparing to secure all loose items: i.e.: garbage cans, dumpster covers, et cetera in all town parks, open space areas, Rails to Trails, et cetera.
- The Education Department is preparing to secure all loose items; i.e.: garbage cans, dumpster covers, et cetera at all town owned educational facilities.
- Preparing emergency vehicles to be fully fueled and ready for service.
- Assuring generators are fueled and tested.
- The Southington Town Clerk’s office should be prepared to establish updates on the website and Channel 14.
- On Monday, if necessary, the transporting of the trailer containing the cots and blankets to the Calendar House.
Residents should also be preparing to take the following steps to secure their property and prevent a disaster should the oncoming storm create extensive power outages or damage around the community:
- Flashlights with spare batteries
- A battery-operated radio or TV
- First-aid kit and medications
- Canned, freeze-dried or dehydrated foods
- A manual can opener
- Bottled water
- Baby or pet supplies (if needed)
- Important phone numbers
"We are hopeful this will veer off to the east or west, but if not, then we are prepared," Brumback said.
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