A Heartfelt Letter, Recognizing Those Who Gave Of Themselves During Sandy

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Nov 162012

The CERT command at the Orange Emergency Shelter.

It was a collective effort of small contributions which enabled the Town of Orange Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to serve a few hundred people.  Such generosity reflects a caring spirit often missed during a caustic election year.

The High Plains Community Center was opened to provide shelter from super-storm Sandy.  Volunteers attended to many clients, especially the elderly, providing overnight accommodations, heat, hot water and showers.  Many folks used the electricity to charge cell phones and computers; others only wanted morning coffee.  Deeper, some required more intimate care so as to attend to soiled diapers, navigating doorways with walkers or issues related to oxygen, medicine, language and hearing.

There was food; three meals a day served to about 70 people for nearly a week.  Supplies started to dwindle but calls for help resulted in deliveries of apples, yogurt, bagels and water.  People of faith stepped-up; coordinating their efforts with CERT and the Town’s EOC (emergency operations center), bringing food and volunteers.

A wholehearted thank you is extended to the nurses, janitors, police, fire-fighters, highway department and many more.  It would be wonderful to mention each person and community group by name because they deserve recognition.  The list of people who helped is long, many worked hard, volunteering even though they lacked electricity, heat and running water at their homes.  In any case I personally witnessed their selflessness and extend a sincere thank you.

Reverend Ann Ritonia, Church of the Good Shepard, please extend my heartfelt gratitude to your congregation as they demonstrated how to serve the community in a time of need.  Additionally, thanks to Reno’s Pizzeria; Julia’s Bakery; Orange Congregational Church; Congregation Or Shalom; Orange Little League; Themis Klarides; American Red Cross; Robert Lettick; the great effort by Maria Biondi, Orange Visiting Nurses Association; and Jennifer Hutchinson, a nurse who volunteered her time.  There are many more and you are not forgotten; thank you too.

To my fellow CERT members, thank you and your family members (e.g., Joe Han’s wife Kim put in a lot of hours of kitchen prep, cleaning and recycling).  CERT can continue to prepare, help others prepare and do even better next time.  Once again we realize how well-off we really are by giving ourselves.

Finally, there are many stories to be told about the storm and its aftermath.  One genuine simple contribution in a time of need to a larger community effort had big results.  Donated paper plates were available to serve the many.  Thank you AF.


Charles Waskiewicz

From The UI, Priority List and 95% Restoration Goal

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Nov 012012

On Friday, Oct. 26, the Emergency Management Team met at the Orange Police Department to discuss plans and protocol for the upcoming hurricane.
One-by-one each of the 19 members laid out their priorities and shared ideas on how to make things easier on townspeople in the worst case scenario.
United Illuminating agreed to have crews available with the strike teams for immediate emergency situations, such as shut offs where there was a fire hazard.
It also gave the Team its restoration priority list. Priorities are explained as follows on the UI website: Orange’s priorities are in RED.
Restoration Priorities

Service restoration depends on the magnitude and duration of the storm or other event causing the service interruptions. UI’s general sequence of service restoration is:

First Priority

Police and Highway Departments

  • Public safety requires the de-energizing or cutting down of downed primary voltage distribution lines, including road clearing.
  • Restoration of service to previously designated public emergency service institutions such as major hospitals, evacuation centers, as prioritized by municipal officials.

Second Priority

High Plains Community Center, Turkey Hill School, Fire Station 1, Orange Healthcare, Maplewood (other senior asst. living) and Stop & Shop

  • Service restoration to a maximum number of customers in a minimum amount of time using available work forces. This usually involves the removal of trees and limbs, the bypassing of some damaged equipment and the re-energizing of primary voltage distribution lines.

Third Priority

  • The repair and restoration of equipment and lines serving small groups of customers.

Fourth Priority

  • Although the restoration of service lines to individual homes or buildings is designated as Priority 4, they will in most cases be done at the same time as other restoration work designated with a higher priority. This is accomplished by using crews not normally associated with distribution restoration work.

In some cases, storms may damage electrical equipment on a customer’s property that’s not part of UI’s electrical system. It is the customer’s responsibility to repair this damage before we can restore service. The pamphlet linked below may be able to help you determine who is responsible for repairing damaged equipment.

At the meeting, the UI explained that damage assessment forms would be available and relayed directly to the Emergency Operations Center, based at the Police Department.

Each was assessed once they were up and running to determine what areas could be restored fastest and then go out to the tier two areas and work on them in order of whichever could be restored fastest.

This morning before sunrise the UI put out a statement that they planned to restore 95% of its customer’s power by Monday at Midnight.

That is ALL of the company’s customers, so, exactly 95% of Orange or 95% of Milford may NOT necessarily be back by that time, but If all goes as planned 95% of its ENTIRE customer base should be back up and running.