OEM burns through the midnight oil
Published 2:45 pm, Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The room was staffed with volunteers including town officials, police officers and residents working together for one common goal. With all the phones and laptops buzzing, the ordinary conference room transformed into something akin to NASA's mission control, another place that is staffed 24/7 like the OEM.
"All of us love doing this," Selectman Rob Mallozzi said. "Most of us have been doing 18-hour days I would say. But we love it and I think the adrenaline keeps us all going."
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If the conference room resembled mission control, then the lobby felt like a comfortable cafeteria with donated coffee and food for all the volunteers. The coffee was certainly a necessity if you ask recent New Canaan graduate and purveyor of all things technology, Nick Howard.
"People are bringing in coffee and donating food for us," Howard, who also created the OEM's Facebook and Google pages, said. "It's been pretty great."
Howard was also burning the midnight oil thanks to his technical prowess.
"Yeah I haven't gotten very much sleep," he said. "But it just feels nice to help out."
If there's anyone lacking some serious shut-eye, it is probably Board of Education Chairman and Republican Selectman candidate Nick Williams, who spent all night at the command center during the first night of storm Saturday.
"It's been an unbelievable experience. I've been here pretty much nonstop," Williams said. "I got in here Friday and remained pretty much nonstop, including an all-nighter Saturday night."
In addition to OEM Director Mike Handler, Mallozzi, Williams, Howard and other town officials, more than 30 volunteers provided their services to the OEM. Thanks to all the help, they have been able to run the command center throughout the storm and its aftermath. Their jobs include anything from manning the Facebook page, taking calls, helping the fire and police departments, assisting at the shelter in Lapham, to serving food at New Canaan High School.
First Selectman Jeb Walker praised their dedication to New Canaan.
"All the CERT, EMS, OEM volunteers and especially the public works guys who have worked nonstop, deserve the pat on the back," Walker said.
Williams agreed and said this was something very special.
"It's been something to be a part of, this operation center," Williams said. "And I just can't say enough about the quality of folks I'm working with here from Mike, Rob to Jim Cole and all the way down the list. These are just incredible dedicated people and I couldn't be prouder to be working alongside them."