The timing, it turns out, isn’t ideal, but South Windsor is among the many towns that is taking part in the state’s emergency preparedness exercise over the next several days.
The emergency scenario that town officials and emergency services personnel will deal with is a simulated Category 3 Hurricane that strikes the New England region.
South Windsor Chief of Police Matthew Reed said that the exercise is part of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s emergency preparedness initiative.
Some towns took part in the exercise Saturday and today, while others, including South Windsor, will be participating in the exercise on Monday and Tuesday.
According to South Windsor Chief of Police Matthew Reed, the goal of the exercise is “to allow municipalities the opportunity to activate their Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), gather a unified command team, prepare an incident management plan, and test their communications capabilities with the state.”
The Department of Public Works will also be working with CL&P and participating in a “make safe” scenario.
In South Windsor, the exercise will take place from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Monday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
To give the exercise some realism, the state released mock weather bulletins last week that tracked the simulated storm.
The challenge, however, is that recent real weather patterns have made the drill imitate life. Indeed, several heavy thunderstorms that rolled through the area last Thursday, Friday and Saturday caused the state to issue warnings that coincided with notifications that were part of the exercise, according to Reed.
The real weather forecasts, according to Reed, were clearly marked “REAL WORLD SITUATION” or “THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
The drill is, in part, being run in the wake of last year’s Tropical Storm Irene and late-October Nor’easter, which knocked out power in some areas of the state for up to 10 days.
“In South Windsor, we felt we did well with Irene and the snowstorm,” he said. “We have practiced in years past. [Town staff and emergency personnel] work well together and we have a good communication structure. …
“[With the test] we are replaying what we have done during the year.”
Still, Reed said that, there is value in running the exercise to ensure that things are run smoothly in the event of a severe weather event.
Part of the exercise will be entering in data into a state-wide, web-based EOC application, which will allow municipal EOCs to communicate with the state, Reed said.
What’s more, the test, which isn’t being closely monitored by the state, also provides value in the form of showing municipalities where there are gaps in its emergency response preparedness.
Reed pointed out several things in South Windsor, such as possibly a need of generators in another town school and the community center as examples of things that the town could focus on, if it chose to do so.
“The police department ran on a generator for 11 days [during the November power outages],” Reed said, before asking. “What if it stopped?”