Update for 8/14/2020
As we end the week that began with the aftermath of the storm and many of us without power, cell service, land lines or internet, we return to “COVID-19 normal”. A quick reminder to limit social gatherings, wear masks in public and sanitize and/or wash your hands often!
What has emerged from this past week is that we have incredibly dedicated public servants. Despite devastating damage, our roads were quickly reopened under the direction and tireless work of the Department of Public Works led by Ed Nagy and Jason Perkins and our Police and Emergency Management led by Chief Richard Doyle.
Together, they led our communication with United Iluminating’s “make safe” crews to get the trees and wires off the roads and out of the way. Fire and EMS responded to numerous calls, and our Senior Center staff did whatever it took to make sure our seniors got what they needed. I am sure this is an incomplete list of all those who pitched in, but I personally am grateful to all who helped.
Unless you were out and about, it is hard to imagine what all of these folks accomplished. I would ask that should you come into contact with any of our town staff, please thank them and acknowledge their hard work. I am told they like cookies!
I also got to meet some of the fine young people who serve in our Connecticut National Guard, who also helped us out, rolling into town like the cavalry. I have thanked them for their service and the governor for sending them to help us.
The next step is our cleanup mode. DPW will be hard at work breaking down and removing trees from the side of our roads. This may take several weeks to complete. Their job is to remove trees that fell on the roads and in the public right of way, roughly 10 feet from the side of the roadway.
It is NOT to remove trees that came down on private property. Trees, branches and debris on private residential property will not be removed by the town. This is the homeowner’s responsibility. You may hire a landscaper, rent a chipper, compost the debris or visit the Fire Department for a burn permit. Our crews have a tremendous amount of work ahead of them, so please respect this request.
Next week the department heads who are part of the emergency management team will meet to discuss procedural improvements for future storms. From my office, I am working to find the connectivity to get reverse 911 calls out sooner. We will work on cell tower maintenance to make certain the battery back-ups are up to date and that generator back up is brought in more quickly so we can keep cell service up and running.
We need to make sure 911 is always functioning. Some other suggestions I have received are to provide dry ice for food preservation, bottled water in addition to the water offered at the Police Department, enabling WiFi access perhaps in the library parking lot, and showers and cooling stations are also on the list. We also intend on offering either downloadable updates on generator building codes and maintenance, and perhaps even a Generator 101 flyer or video.
Please feel free to contact me via the town web site or Janet at JHaller@eastonct.gov with suggestions for future storm response. I will also, in the coming weeks, be assembling focus groups to discuss things like storm preparedness/response and the Optimum/Cablevision alternatives.
Through the organizations of small towns and municipality groups to which we belong, we will be participating in the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) investigation of the response by UI to this storm. If there are corrective actions or reparations, Easton will participate. We are exploring our options now with the law firm of Berchem Moses.
The Easton Board of Education has postponed the start of school until Sept. 8. Plans for how the schools will open are posted on the er9.org website and here. We acknowledge the incredible job being done by acting superintendent Dr. Stephanie Pierson-Ugol. On behalf of Easton, please join me in welcoming Dr. Rydell Harrison, our incoming superintendent.
Have a great weekend!