July 8, 2020

Essex Selectmen Review Storm Response, Consider Purchase of Needed Items

ESSEX— A detailed review of the town’s response to Tropical Storm Irene has led the board of selectmen to consider expedited purchase of items that were needed in the wake of the August 28 storm, including additional generators and “road closed” signs.

First Selectman Phil Miller announced at Wednesday’s meeting that selectmen had met earlier in the day with more than a dozen emergency responders, Red Cross volunteers and Region 4 school officials for a detailed review of the town response to the storm. Along with ambulance, fire department and police personnel, participants at the review included Public Works Director David Caroline, Emergency Management Director William Buckridge, Region 4 Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy and Region 4 Building and Grounds Director Bruce Glowac, and Dennis Welch, operations manager at the Essex Meadows retirement community and health care center on Bokum Road.

Levy and Glowac had worked with representatives of the American Red Cross to run the emergency shelter at John Winthrop Middle School that served residents of the district towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex for a week after the storm.

Miller said the review led to a determination of several items that were needed after the storm. Needed items include an electric generator for the solid waste transfer station, new radios for Essex Volunteer Ambulance personnel and the harbor master, additional cell phones for emergency personnel, and additional “road closed” signs. Miller said the town has only four “road closed” signs, while nearly a dozen were needed last week.

Miller said the storm also confirmed the need to relocate the town emergency operations center from the ground floor of town hall to the now vacant former judge of probate office on the west side of the building’s first floor. Selectmen had discussed a possible reuse of the judge of probate office, which has been vacant since January, previously this year. The existing ground floor space for the EOC is plagued by mold and moisture conditions.

Selectman Norman Needleman asked Miller to prepare a “comprehensive list of what we need” for discussion at the board’s next meeting on Sept. 21. Selectman Joel Marzi said he is prepared to support an appropriation from the contingency fund to purchase high priority items as soon as possible. “This was the rainy day that you use a rainy day fund for,” Marzi said.