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Madison Declares State Of Emergency, Effective Noon Monday; All Afterschool Activities Cancelled

Board of Selectmen vote unanimously to declare a civil preparedness state of emergency in meeting at town hall Friday afternoon, then go into closed session to discuss security strategy, discussion of deployment of security personnel.

 

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."

Die Hard October 27, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Will the beaches be opened?
Jim Williams October 27, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Is the Madison Beach Hotel offering free shelter for those in need after storm Sandy passes through?
eileen banisch October 27, 2012 at 03:23 PM
It's also a good idea to forward your land line to your cell phone before the power goes out so that even comcast calls can come through.
Matt October 27, 2012 at 04:29 PM
If an evacuation is ordered, how will that effect MBH's assertions that they will remain open during the storm. A beach front hotel doesn't seem like a smart place to stay.
Pem McNerney (Editor) October 27, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Good idea. Thanks Eileen.
Pem McNerney (Editor) October 27, 2012 at 04:34 PM
And a good question Matt. In the event of an evacuation order, I will check on that.
Pem McNerney (Editor) October 27, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Ahh ... at least you are consistent. Thanks.
Sadly No October 27, 2012 at 05:37 PM
How is madison differently prepared than last year? Is our first selectman going to be more active than he was last year?
Pem McNerney (Editor) October 27, 2012 at 06:06 PM
@ Matt: This from Madison Beach Hotel after they learned about the state of emergency being declared effective Monday at noon ... Mathers said the rate at this point is good for Sunday only. And he emphasized that the hotel, of course, will heed any evacuation orders and will take whatever measures necessary recommended by town officials, and common sense. The worst of the storm is expected to hit late Monday into early Tuesday. A state of emergency was declared Friday by town officials, to take effect Monday at noon. "Our dinner and rooms specials are being offered only if the hotel is under normal operations. If we feel our staff or guests are in harm’s way, we will not remain open, nor will we promote our facility as a place of refuge," Mathers said. "I am staying in close contact with [Madison Director of Emergency Services ] John Bowers and the Madison Emergency Management Team and we will heed their advice on evacuation. We are taking this event very seriously."
Doan Steel October 27, 2012 at 10:16 PM
While I understand that the town would rather err on the side of safty, they do scare people including my children. They should issue a statement that they are ready for the worst but we should get through it OK
Jim Williams October 27, 2012 at 11:18 PM
A lot of people missing? No representatives invited form other agencies with a direct connection to Madison regarding dangerous situations during a hurricane? Unless I missed it in this article..... No one invited or in attendance from Amtrak with all those rails through town, No one from the Southern Connecticut Natural Gas company with all those gas lines in the southern part of town, No one form U.S.C.G. Long Island Sound Group with all our coast line, No one from the phone company or cell companies with all our phone lines on utility poles or cell towers, No representative from the Connecticut State Police with all those miles of state highway and three interstate exits, No representative from the water company with all those water lines in town, No one from the National Guard should they be needed. Would have been nice to hear what each agency mentioned has to offer, what they can or can not do, what their unique safety concerns are and any specific advice they have for the general public. Now we know why we continually have problems trying to coordinate public safety concerns during emergency situations. Inadequate pre-planning.
Wilson October 28, 2012 at 02:58 AM
No they are offering a reduced rate for what the press release stated was Sunday evening only. The cost is $149 for the night. I am not sure if you have to check out just in time to the hurricane to hit on Monday. But it was nice to offer this rate on a slow night and why not the least we could do is support our Locals during this catastrophic event.

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