The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Friday afternoon to declare a state of emergency as of noon on Monday, in anticipation of Sandy hitting the East Coast.
First Selectman Fillmore McPherson said it was too early to tell how exactly the town and surrounding shoreline might be affected by Sandy, now a hurricane plowing its way towards the eastern seaboard. But he said the state of emergency will allow the town to close roads and order evacuations as needed.
Attending the meeting were McPherson, Selectman Al Goldberg, Selectman Joan Walker, and Selectman Diane Stadterman. Selectman Joe MacDougald was not in attendance due to a prior committment, but he said he had conferred with McPherson earlier in the week about the state of emergency.
In attendance were town employees, town emergency officials, school officials, and others
Among those also in attendance at the meeting were the fire chiefs of Madison Hose Co. No. 1 and the North Madison Volunteer Fire Co.; Madison Police Commander John Rich and, by speaker phone Madison Police Chief Jack Drumm; police dispatchers; school officials including Madison School Superintendent Thomas Scarice; representatives from the Madison Ambulance Association; Madison Director of Emergency Services John Bowers; Madison Deputy Director of Emergency Services Ed Brunt; Madison Engineer and Director of Public Works Mike Ott; state Rep. Noreen Kokoruda; Madison Youth & Family Services Director of Human Services David Melillo; Scot Erskine, director of the Madison Beach & Recreation Department; Madison Director of Town Services and Tax Collector Alma Carroll; Mac Walker from the Madison Health Department and Cathy Lezon, a community relationship representative from Connecticut Light & Power.
During the open session, McPherson said he wanted to declare a civil preparedness state of emergency in anticipation of Sandy making landfall somewhere on the East Coast, which at this time is anticipated by some forecasters to be Tuesday morning. Forecasters have said the exact track and timing of the storm, in terms of where exactly and when it will hit the East Coast, is still not definite, but that it is expected to be "catastrophic" when it does.
Walker asks whether noon on Monday is soon enough
High tide on Monday in Madison will be 11:07 a.m. and 11:36 p.m.. It also will be an astronomical high tide, Ott said. High tide on Tuesday will be 11:45 a.m.
Selectman Walker asked whether Monday at noon was soon enough to call the state of emergency.
Bowers said he thought it was, and that the town might close the beaches at that point as well. Bowers said it is expected to be a slow moving storm.
McPherson asks town residents to take the following action
At that point McPherson called an executive session. Following the executive session, McPherson provided the following information.
- He encouraged everyone to register their cell phones with ctalert.gov. He noted that people who have cordless phones reliant upon electricity, and people who have phone service through Comcast or VOIP will not have the ability to receive automatic phone call updates from the town. People with landlines, and old-fashioned phones that plug into the wall and AT&T service may be able to receive phone calls, but he urged everyone to register their cell phones with ctalert.gov.
- He urged people who are dependent upon well water to fill up their bathtubs so that they can flush toilets, and pots and pans with drinking water prior to the storm.
- He said people who have prescriptions and who rely upon oxygen should get at least a week's worth prior the storm. "They have three days to get those filled, so they should get those filled," he said.
- He said people should fill up their cars with gasoline prior to Monday at noon.
- He said everyone should make sure that they have extra cash, because ATM machines will not work without power.
- He said that in the event the town is affected by Sandy, that the town would rely upon printed fliers and the automated phone call system to communicate with town residents.
- He said depending on need, the town will set up an emergency shelter at the town campus. He said there are no plans at this time to set up an emergency shelter at the North Madison Congregational Church, noting that the shelter at town campus was not heavily used during Tropical Storm Irene.
- He said that if people in town have someone with special needs or who is vulnerable, and they think they might have difficulty providing for them during the storm, that they should contact the town.
- People who have concerns about an older person should call Heather Castrilli, Municipal Agent for the Elderly, at (203)245-5687. McPherson said if someone calls over the weekend, they should leave a message and someone would get back to them Monday.
- People who have concerns about a younger person should call David Melillo at Madison Youth & Family Services at (203) 245-5645. Again, if someone calls over the weekend, they can leave a message and someone will get back to them Monday, McPherson said.
Also following the meeting, Madison Public Schools issued a notice saying "Due to the forecasted strorm, all afterschool and evening activities for Madison Public Schools on Monday, October 29, 2012 have been cancelled."
Reason cited for executive session "arguable"
During the open session fo the meeting, McPherson said he was calling an executive session for a discussion of "security strategy and/or a discussion regarding deployment of security personnel."
Connecticut Freedom of Information spokesman Thomas Hennick said he was puzzled by that, saying that a discussion attended by a quorum of the Board of Selectmen about security measures to be taken in advance of a storm might be of interest to the public. He said the reason cited by McPherson for executive session is often invoked by towns needing to discuss something like a crime wave, rather than a public safety emergency.
"It is a reason to call an executive session," Hennick said, of the reason cited by McPherson. "But its use in that case is arguable."