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Officials Reflect on 2011 Snowstorm as Hurricane Sandy Approaches

The giant storm that will hit today, which many have nicknamed "Frankenstorm," comes almost exactly one year after a rare October snowstorm caused more damage than the town has seen. But past experience is leaving the town ready to respond, of

The impending damage that Hurricane Sandy could bring to Connecticut could mean a significant amount of power outages in Southington, but after a rare October snowstorm in 2011, officials said the town is prepared for a fast and efficient response.

Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback said late last week that the 2011 storm was memorable for many reasons, some which were frustrating and difficult to deal with including the loss of power for almost 90 percent of the community, but called the previous storm “a wake up call” and said a lot of lessons were learned.

“The town did really well with the storm, but there were a lot of things that also needed to be addressed, particularly with some of the outside agencies we worked with,” Brumback said.

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“Those agencies have stepped it up this time already,” he said. "CL&P been through town trimming trees and making sure lines are safe. They are prepared to go. We are exactly where we were in terms of leaf pick-up and in event have something similar, we expect a certain amount of destruction and are prepared.”

Responding to a Major Weather Event

One of the reasons the town was able to stay in good shape following the 2011 snowstorm was the use of technology social media to respond to community needs. Use of the town’s website and the Southington Police Department’s Facebook page were essential in keeping the public updated.

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.”

What memories do you have of last year's storm? Did you take photos of damage or community unity? Share those with us as well!

Police have already activated their emergency operations center and will use the page once again to provide updates on road closures, storm anticipation, shelter updates and more. This page can be accessed from cell phones and other technology, officials said.

To see complete updates, click on the link provided.

The Southngton Police Department during the following storm also created a registry designed to improve response and assist those in need.

Business Impact of Major Storms

For residents and business owners, it was hard not to see an impact from the storm. Organizations like Tropical Tanning suffered significant loss of business as a result of the blackout and were forced to regroup when the power came back on.

““We aren’t in sales. We can’t open our doors and simply sell stuff,” said Vito Montelli, owner of Tropical Tanning. “With tanning bed services, we are dependent on the electricity. CL&P service is critical to our overhead; it is the largest bill I have every month.”

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Recovering from Damage

Although damage and recovery from the 2011 snowstorm exceed $1 million in costs, the town found itself responsible for less than $300,000 of it, thanks in large part to a Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement received.

The town is currently awaiting a check from the federal government for 75 percent of the, Southington Town Attorney Mark Sciota said.

“Most of the money recovered would go back to the town or to organizations who assisted with debris removal,” Sciota said. “The council has also pledged to pay back the Southington YMCA for costs associated with providing relief to residents. That’s a small amount; the rest will go to the general fund.”

Should the impending storm cause similar damage, Brumback said he anticipates the town would once again be eligible to apply for relief from the federal government. The hope remains, as always, that this would not be necessary, he said.

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