Town officials from Durham and Middlefield met Sunday afternoon to coordinate a response to Hurricane Sandy ahead of the storm's arrival to Connecticut, which is expected Monday.
"Obviously we're not a coastal community so we don't have to deal with tides and flooding, but for us, I think, we're going to have a lot of uprooted trees, compromised trees and when they come down we'll deal with the wires," said Francis Willett, Durham's emergency management director.
As of Sunday evening, the storm was located off the coast of the Carolinas with sustained winds of 75 mph.
Willett said both towns were in a better position to deal with the storm as a result of successful coordinated efforts during two major storms last year but stressed that Sandy was still being considered an unpredictable, "hybrid" storm.
To help speed up the recovery process, Durham and Middlefield have requested that Connecticut Light and Power crews (one line worker and one tree worker) be on the ground first thing Monday morning.
"There's no way, at this point, to prevent outages from happening," said Lisa Davenport, the town's liason with Connecticut Light and Power. "The idea is get power back on as quickly as possible after that."
Emergency officials plan to meet again on Monday morning to assess the latest storm information. Region 13 schools are closed both Monday and Tuesday because of expected sustained wind gusts near or above 50 mph.
An emergency center at Coginchaug High School will likely not be opened until Wednesday at the earliest, officials said, in order to give crews enough time to clear storm debris to make roads safe.
"Everything that is be being told to us is this storm is going to be a 36-hour storm duration. Obviously there will be clean up time after that," said Durham First Selectman Laura Francis.
A second emergency center, at Memorial School in Middlefield, would be opened only as a secondary emergency center.
In the event that an emergency center is opened the towns will notify residents through an emergency alert notification as well as signs installed in several locations.
Both towns have set up 24-hour storm lines which residents can call; Durham 860-343-6735 and Middlefield 860-349-3294. For life-threatening emergencies residents should always call 911.
An important note for anyone with a serious health concern: there will be no paramedic service during the storm when winds are 50 mph sustained or when wind gusts are 65 mph or higher.
State Police have already begun extra patrols and drivers are urged to remain home during the height of the storm mid-Monday through Tuesday night.
"We've been through it twice already and even though it's probably going to be a more serious event it's going to go very smooth and it should not be one of the concerns of the town," emergency management volunteer Chris Soulias said of the response effort to Hurricane Sandy.
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