The next time winds howl as storms approach the coastal state of Connecticut, recommendations from the members of the Two Storm Panel and any subsequent implementation will be put to a real-life test.
The comprehensive report was put into the hands of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy after he charged this special committee with gathering facts, talking with towns and winnowing that information into an action plan.
â€œWe did many things right in the wake of these two storms, but when the margin of error is zero â€“ like it was for these two storms â€“ we have to do better,â€ said Governor Malloy. â€œIn my time as mayor of Stamford, we were constantly examining and updating our policies and procedures as they pertained to the preparedness of the city to aid and protect its residents in crisis situations.â€
Co-chairs Joe McGee, vice president, Business Council of Fairfield County and Major General James Skiff, U.S. Air Force, retired, head up the committee. Members are Peter Carozza, president, Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters; Terry Edelstein, president, Connecticut Community Providers Association; Lee Hoffman, attorney, Pullman & Comley, LLC; Scott Jackson, mayor, Hamden; Robert McGrath, former fire chief, Stamford; Catherine Osten, first selectman, Sprague.
From the executive summary: “Tropical Storm Irene and the October Norâ€™easter tested Connecticutâ€™s emergency resources in ways that they had not been tested in more than 25 years. . . . The result was that although Connecticut has faced far more significant storms, such as Category 3 hurricanes, both Tropical Storm Irene and the October Norâ€™easter left record numbers of residents without electricity, communications, heat or reliable supplies of water. The significant impact of these storms has served as a wake-up call to Connecticut. Our state must do more to prevent, plan for, and respond to emergencies and natural disasters.”
Some eye-opening highlights: Tropical Storm Irene and the October snow storm were powerful storms each knocking out power to more than 800,000 customers, far exceeding any storm in recent history. However, they pale in comparison to the damage that will be inflicted by a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds between 100 to 120 mph.
â€¢ Storm Irene downed approximately 1 to 2% of the stateâ€™s trees. A major hurricane may
down up to 70 to 80% of the state’s trees.
â€¢ Total damages from both storms estimated at $750 million to $1 billion. The damage from a Category 3 hurricane – similar to the 1938 hurricane – is estimated (HAZUS MH) in todayâ€™s dollars at $54.2 billion.
â€¢ Testimony given to the panel by meteorologists from the National Weather Service stated that Connecticut is overdue for a major hurricane.
“In all likelihood, at least some portion of the two storms tested the response system in the majority of the communities beyond that experienced in past training and exercises.”
Editor’s note: We’ll report on pro-active efforts from towns in the region and shed light on progress as we find interesting stories. Connecticut ranks third in density of horses in the U.S., with reports of more than 52,000 in a densely populated coastal state, according to a recent University of Connecticut report, The Town of Durham Animal Response Team (DART) is in place to take action for area horses, farms and livestock. Click on DART logo to visit their site.
Included in the report are 82 recommendations. Read complete details in a PDF linked on the official report from the Governor.