Storm Henri Meeting
Town of Westbrook
August 21, 2021
This meeting was convened as a result of various conference calls with the State of Connecticut regarding Hurricane Henri and the impact it may have on Connecticut Municipalities. Since Mr. Izzo, Emergency Management Director, is in charge of all of the procedures and protocols regarding Emergency Management issues, on the recommendation from Mr. Bishop the meeting was convened at 5 p.m. on August 21, 2021.
In attendance included - Noel Bishop, First Selectman, Don Izzo, Emergency Management Director, John Flaherty, Fire Marshal, Kristina Martineau, Superintendent of Schools,
Donna Castracane, Director of Finance, Courtney Burks, Director Senior Center, John Riggio, Director of Public Works, Bill Cusson, Fire Chief, David Maiden, Building Official, Zack Faiella, Director of Health, Trooper Moran.
Mr. Izzo provided a good summary of all of the information he has to date and his recommendations as we proceed to monitor Hurricane Henri and its implications for Westbrook. His comments were as follows:
An official State of Emergency for the Town of Westbrook will be recommended to be signed by the First Selectman to facilitate FEMA reimbursements and for liability purposes.
- The Town’s Emergency Plan has been developed via partnerships with town departments; i.e., Westbrook Public Schools, Fire Department, Public Works etc.
- The Emergency Shelter at Daisy Ingraham School will be opened on Sunday, 8/22 (time to be determined after the next Hurricane Update from the Hurricane Center). EOC volunteers will be setting up the Shelter this evening. If the Shelter reaches capacity, a Regional Shelter is located in North Branford. The Shelter will be available for overnight use, if needed.
- Information on the Shelter will be provided via social media platforms, websites, the Everbridge system, etc.
- All Covid-19 protocols are in place and will be followed during this event. Masks are required on Town property.
- Westbrook Police officers will be available, as needed, at the Shelter.
- Per FEMA reimbursement requirements, all appropriate staff, i.e.; Public Works, Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Fire Dept., Police, etc. will document, including date stamped photos, all expenses for manpower, purchases, vehicles and equipment. All FEMA reimbursements will be facilitated via Ms. Castracane, Director of Finance.
- Mr. Izzo was confident that Eversource’s new system established to report downed wires, trees, etc. is sufficient and it will not be necessary for Eversource to provide a representative to man our EOC. Mr. Izzo encouraged the Fire Dept., Public Works and other appropriate departments to report all conditions (downed wires, trees, pole numbers, intersections, etc.) to him to be forwarded to Eversource.
- The Town’s EOC will be open to selective staff only. Mr. Izzo reported that the Town’s extensive radio system is sufficient. The Town’s satellite phone has been activated and will be available for use If necessary.
Mr. Bishop posed the following questions/scenarios for consideration:
- Downed live wires
- Downed wires are not to be touched, 911 should be called to report downed live wires.
- Power outages should be reported to Eversource via telephone, text, website, etc.
- Eversource’s numbers have been released and will be communicated to the public again.
- Mr. Izzo indicated that residents should continually check the EOC website for additional information, www.westbrookem.com
- Power Restoration Times – Eversource does not permit town officials to prioritize power restoration. They are required to restore power to critical areas first (hospitals, EOC, Fire Dept., etc.).
- Mr. Izzo requested that if a generator at a town facility fails, it should be reported to him immediately.
- It is anticipated that Eversource will begin damage assessment as soon as possible (when safe) and they will release estimated times of restoration.
- Note – crews are typically “pulled” from the road when winds are 45 mph or greater.
- Cooling Center – On Tuesday, Mr. Izzo will address the possibility of opening a cooling center, charging center. Note that residents can charge their cell phones in their vehicles. Ms. Burks, has a “network” for contacting her constituents.
- The YMCA has offered the use of their facility for showering.
- CT Water – Connecticut Water has sent information, including contact information, in the event that water lines are affected by the storm. Note that many residents are on well water (wells will not function without electricity) and water stations will be available as needed to allow residents to fill containers with fresh water. Masks will be required at the watering station (even though it is outside).
- The decision to close the Town Hall on Monday, 8/23, will be made on Sunday, 8/22. Superintendent Martineau reported that she has already told school staff to NOT report for work on Monday, unless they are told to do so.
- Public Works and essential staff will be paid per the Town’s Personnel Manual (similar to snow days).
- Landfill – A decision will be made on Monday regarding extended hours, fees, etc.
- Basement Pump Outs – The Fire Chief will make the determination on a case-by-case basis, for life safety reasons, the availability of the Fire Dept. for basement pump outs.
Mr. Riggio expressed concern that individuals renting homes in the Grove Beach area may not be familiar with storm conditions (extensive flooding on Old Mail Trail).
Mr. Izzo reported that over the past several days, Emergency Management, through their webpage, social media, Everbridge system have encouraged residents to have their emergency plans in place and, if possible, to voluntarily evacuate. He continued that each individual has to determine for themselves their level of safety and if necessary, individuals may go to the Shelter.
Chief Cusson reported that Fire Dept. volunteers are available to go door to door in the “beach areas” and encourage individuals to evacuate the area (as surrounding towns have done). Mr. Izzo reported that it was not necessary to go door to door as the information posted by the EOC over the past several days is sufficient. Mr. Izzo, Chief Cusson and First Selectman Bishop will discuss further “off line”.
The meeting adjourned at 5:45 p.m.
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