Wilmington, rest of county taking precautions for Sandy

Monday October 29, 2012

WILMINGTON -- The town clerk's office has taken precautions to protect essential town records in the event of hazardous weather during the next few days.

According to an e-mail from Wilmington Town Clerk Susie Haughwout, the office will be open for normal hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) on Monday and will be monitoring conditions at that time to determine the potential for closing due to Hurricane Sandy, which is making its way up the East Coast.

Some land records have been moved to higher ground for safe-keeping, according to the e-mail. These records may not be easily accessible until after the storm passes and they can be safely returned to the usual repository. Haughwout said she sent the e-mail with the intention of assisting users as they plan trips to the town clerk's office at 2 East Main St.

The e-mail said early/absentee voting is continuing as normal at this time. Any interruption in election services will be posted to the town's website at www.wilmingtonvermont.us.

Tom Consolino, chairman of the Wilmington Selectboard, told the Reformer that Haughwout is properly adhering to emergency protocol.

"We don't know how much rain we're going to get. We thought on Friday we would get an inch and a half to two inches," he said on Saturday. "Depending on how far north the storm is when it turns (will) determine how much rain we get."

He said he was unsure if the emergency preparedness policy Haughwout is carrying existed before Tropical Storm Irene ripped through Vermont in August 2011, but the Wilmington was definitely affected by that storm.

"We had flooding in town hall and we don't want it to flood again," he said.

Town Manager Scott Murphy told the Reformer last week that Wilmington has the benefit of experience this time around.

"I think we're prepared. Last year's lesson is a lesson well-learned. We're trying to get ahead of the curve this time," he said after Wilmington's second meeting preparing for the storm.

In anticipation of a massive restoration effort following Sandy's landfall, Entergy has decided to send 305 linemen as well as support personnel to the region. According to an e-mail from the energy company, crews departed from their respective service centers in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas on Saturday. Specific destinations will be determined by where the damage is.

Entergy also said its employees are carefully tracking the storm to ensure all of the nuclear plants in the Northeast are prepared.

Monday cancellations, as of presstime Sunday night, included: all WSESU schools including Brattleboro, Guilford, Dummerston, Putney and Vernon Elementary, Brattleboro Union High and Middle Schools, and the Windham Regional Career Center; the Brattleboro Boys & Girls Club; Owl Tree nursery; Whitingham Elementary School, Twin Valley Middle School and Twin Valley High School; the Pioneer Valley Regional School District in Massachusetts, including Pioneer Valley Regional and elementary schools in Northfield, Bernardston, Leyden and Warwick; all schools in Cheshire County, New Hampshire; the Meeting Waters YMCA bus; and the Amtrak Vermonter will not be running north- or southbound trains.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., released a statement over the weekend about an hour-long conference he had with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate and officials of the National Weather Service and the American Red Cross. He mentioned he also spoke with Gov. Peter Shumlin.

"I am confident that under Governor Shumlin's leadership, Vermont will keep its guard up. Administrator Fugate expressed concerns that even if high winds avoid Vermont, the rainfall will extend over such a large area that Vermont may experience heavy rain, softening of the ground and possible flooding," Leahy said in the statement. "I spoke with him specifically about our experience last year with Irene, how all Vermonters learned to respond, and that even if this storm is not as severe the federal government needs to be ready to respond immediately.

"My staff and I have followed the situation closely for days," he continued, "and are constantly staying in touch, as emergency officials will have many areas to monitor, and I want to make sure that Vermont remains one of them."

Track the storm of Hurricane Sandy using the interactive map posted online at reformer.com; the map will be updated as forecasts progress.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.


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