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Town, Schools Prepare for Hurricane Sandy in Avon

Only time will tell how damaging the storm could be to Connecticut, but Avon town officials have already been in meetings with staff and CL&P to plan ahead.

Avon town officials have not forgotten Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm from last year.

But as the anniversary of the latter approaches and Hurricane Sandy is getting closer, there is little angst and they are getting ready for whatever could be coming Avon's way.

"We're doing what we've done every other storm," James DiPace, Avon emergency management director, said Friday.

That means monitoring weather reports and meeting to reinforce the town's emergency operations plan, he said. Public Works staff and Avon Volunteer Fire Department members are checking to make sure their equipment is "up to speed," DiPace said.

On Friday, town staff met with representatives from Connecticut Light and Power, Board of Education members, school officials, Avon Public Schools Director of Facilities, police and emergency operations personnel to discuss the plan for next week should Hurricane Sandy reach Avon, according to Avon Town Manager Brandon Robertson. They will meet again on Sunday to touch base.

"It looks like we're going to get something," Robertson said. "It's hard to know what it's going to be."

The town has already been in communication with school officials about the possibility of opening Avon High School as an emergency shelter if needed.

Avon Superintendent of Schools Gary Mala said school officials assessed the availability of food, keeping in mind anywhere from 300 to 500 people frequented the high school shelter during the October snowstorm last year. If needed, cots will also be moved to the high school next week. Avon Social Services Director Alan Rosenburg is organizing staffing in the event a shelter is needed.

Mala said that he hopes people are taking the necessary precautions and that school officials are prepared to support the community in the event of a widespread power outage.

"We have all necessary plans on standby to implement," Mala said.

Town and school officials are also making sure they have enough fuel and that generators are available as needed. If the power goes out at the schools, food will be transported to buildings with generators, Mala said.

DiPace recommends that residents sign up for Avon emergency notifications through CT Alerts, which can send updates to landlines, cell phones, emails and pagers. You can sign up on the state website

During the October snowstorm power outages last year, Public Works employees were ready to clear the roads, but had to wait until the power lines were fixed before touching trees in those area. Town officials were asking CL&P for help, but weren't getting line crews quick enough, according to Assistant Town Manager Steve Bartha.

CL&P communicated to the town that it will be different next time. Like last year, the town has a power company liaison assigned to it.

"Their (CL&P's) primary function is making the power lines safe before the restoration process begins so we can open roads," DiPace said. "CL&P's planning is supposed to be totally different. If in fact we get hit, it will be a test."

that should be in Connecticut by Sunday in the event they are needed post-hurricane, Bill Quinlan, CL&P senior vice president of emergency preparedness said in a statement earlier.

"You can't control Mother Nature," DiPace said. "We do what we always do to prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

Lux October 28, 2012 at 05:52 PM
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