Irene brings power outages and unique emergency operations - Top story of 2011
Published 3:15 pm, Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tropical Storm Irene was yet another weather disaster that struck New Canaan this year. Some residents were without power for nearly a week after the storm hit.
At one point, more than 80 percent of town was without power. The down power lines and hazardous road conditions even delayed the first day of school to after Labor Day.
The trees were the biggest issue. Office of Emergency Management officials said trees cause New Canaan more problems than other nearby towns.
"While this is a statewide event, New Canaan did suffer quite a lot. Many large cites that had very few trees, can be fixed without tree removal," OEM officials said.
"There were over 250 reported downed trees and wires in New Canaan that had to be dealt with before power could begin to be restored."
"It took a team of just over 100 town officials, employees and volunteers in the EOC to manage the challenges of Irene," OEM Director Mike Handler said. "Collectively, we executed our plans and developed creative solutions to various obstacles. New Canaan separates itself from others in two ways when it comes to emergency management. The first is the eagerness of all departments to work together as a team; and second, the ability to mobilize spontaneous volunteers and integrate them seamlessly into the process."
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"The utility of our Facebook page has wildly exceeded my expectations but not for the reasons you might expect. When the idea was first brought to me I perceived the value in being able to push information out to residents who were without power, telephones, and Internet access," Handler said. "What I did not realize, which several of my colleagues must have, was that Facebook could be used for residents to push valuable information to the EOC. We were able to get instant reports of damage even when we could not gain access because of blocked roadways. Several of the homes with significant tree damage were discovered because of pictures that were posted. We would then dispatch officers to check on the well being of any occupants."
"It's been absolutely phenomenal," Selectman Rob Mallozzi said about the initiative. "It has gone way beyond our expectations. It's been an incredibly effective tool."