Wednesday October 31, 2012

It looks like Windham County escaped the worst of Hurricane Sandy’s wrath. With memories of Tropical Storm Irene still fresh in everyone’s minds, the relatively limited damage from this latest storm brings a collective sigh of relief throughout the region.

The lessons learned from the August 2011 flood came to bear on Monday as emergency services and utility crews from far and wide stood ready to face whatever Sandy brought our way. Gov. Peter Shumlin on Sunday had declared a state of emergency, enabling him to call upon the National Guard as needed.

Hundreds of extra line crews from areas outside New England traveled to Vermont early Monday morning to make sure there was support in case of widespread power outages. The Vermont Agency of Transportation had hundreds of workers out on the roads Monday with chainsaws to take care of downed trees and keep roads open.

Vermont Emergency Management opened its Emergency Operations Center Monday morning and held a conference call with town legislators and city managers and mayors across the state. As we learned from Irene, state and local communications and coordination are vital to assessing and addressing any damage.

All around Windham County emergency officials worked tirelessly in the days leading up to the storm to address key concerns and make sure they were prepared for whatever was to come. They opened up command centers, got designated shelters ready, closed schools, granted road foreman the authority to hire contractors if needed, cleared ditches and made sure water was running.

While the destruction was less than we feared, what damage we did see was taken care of expeditiously. But for the most part, a lot of the emergency planning and preparation for Hurricane Sandy was never actually put into action here in Windham County.

That’s not to say all the pre-storm efforts weren’t necessary or appreciated. It’s good to know everyone was ready to step up if the need had arisen. We tip our hats to all of those who put in long hours over the last few days to make sure every contingency was covered and that all of our immediate needs would be met.