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Schools Make Plans as Easton Remains Dark

UPDATE 8:30 a.m.: United Illuminating only restored 60 of the 1,117 households it promised on Thursday, said Thomas Herrmann in an email to The Daily Easton. "This misinformation on restorations will only justifiably fuel our frustrations. I will get an explanation as to why 'no information' has become 'bad information,'" he said.

EASTON, Conn. – Nicar Jinnah filled up two 5-gallon water jugs at the Easton Police Department on Thursday. "I had three tubs filled with water, but it's running out," said Jinnah, who has been stocking up on water everywhere he can.

A total of 98 percent of Easton is expected to have power back by Sunday night, with a huge chunk – 1,117 households – expected to be restored by Friday, according to United Illuminating. As of 10 p.m. Thursday, 1,714 customers in Easton were without electricity, 59 percent of the town.

The Easton students have lost three school days because of the storm. Superintendent of Schools Bernard Josefsberg said those days will be added to the end of the school year – based upon the order established last year. The school will add days up to and including Friday, June 22. If more days are lost, such as because of snow days, they will be made up during April vacation and then during February vacation.

As of Thursday afternoon, all schools had power restored except Helen Keller Middle School. "It's visibly scary," said Josefsberg. A large tree collapsed onto wires there just before the parking lot.

In the future, Josefsberg hopes to update the district's website to allow information to be disseminated more easily. "The hurricane highlighted the concern in the communications infrastructure," he said. "We're planning improvements – a new webpage design and more efficient modes of connecting with people."

However, "all elements are power-dependent. We're stymied by that fact. If you don't have power, it's difficult to get the word out efficiently." The district posted signs in Easton and Redding and gave handouts to emergency teams to inform the public of the status of schools.

"This storm highlights the importance of having emergency plans that are suited to the emergency and capable of withstanding the conditions," said Josefsberg.

The administrative council met Wednesday to discuss what worked well for the district and what could be refined, said Josefsberg. He said a reverse 911 program would be "very powerful" to get the word out to households. In such a program, a recorded message goes out to everyone on the subscriber list and can go to both cell phones and landlines.

"The landlines worked. It could have been very helpful to have the reverse 911 when the webpage couldn't do you any good," said Josefsberg.

How did you receive information about the schools? Do you think something should have been done differently? Leave your suggestions in the box below.

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