Saturday, November 26, 2011

Snowtober Postmortem

We're finally clearing away the last debris from the great October snowstorm, but the ultimately more important work is the assessment of how we coped this time and what we can do in order to be better prepared in the future. Town Manager John Musante reported on this to the Select Board last Monday.

Although the Town generally gave itself satisfactory marks on the report card, it also checked a few boxes labeled, "room for improvement," mainly (as noted earlier) in the areas of communication and outreach.

  • "Expansion of use of interactive social media to transmit messaging during emergencies": high time to make use of Twitter and the like
  •  Expanded use of emergency staff "in non-traditional roles to assist in emergencies": checking in on residents, communications, and so forth
  • Providing warming or cooling places as sites of relief during extreme weather, but also as places for social interaction and information-sharing
Concrete action steps:
  • Install an emergency generator in Town Hall, and outfit the Town Room as an Emergency Operations Center
  • "Campaign to add citizens to the emergency alert list. Include interactive social media." [Note: the current system automatically subscribes all residents via their landlines, and they have to opt out if they wish not to take part. However, subscription by cell phone is opt-in {voluntary}, and relatively few residents have added themselves in this way. They can do so here.
  • Expand the Police "Are You OK" program by adding other constituent groups such as Elder Services and the Health Department Medical Needs Registry
  • Complement existing Medical Reserve Corps by creating a new Citizen Emergency Response Team, for which FEMA/MEMA funding could be sought.

I've uploaded the complete document, along with the chronology of the snowstorm response.

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