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Survey: Westonites Fear Major Winter Storm

WESTON, Conn. – Residents in Weston are feeling a little nervous about the safety of the town if a major winter storm should hit the region and knock out power, a town survey reveals.

Town officials conducted the survey over the past month, asking residents to answer five questions about how emergency officials and utility companies handled of Hurricane Irene. The goal of the survey, which only received 38 responses, was to analyze the preparedness for future weather emergencies and the communication between town officials and residents, First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said.

While most of the residents felt the town did a great job keeping everyone up-to-date on the status of Irene, many wondered what would happen if a storm of that magnitude hit Weston during the winter. Of those 38 responses, nearly 30 said they feared a strong winter storm would knock out power and freeze pipes, forcing residents to evacuate their homes.

The question asked, “How would your expectations and needs change in different seasons? Would the situation be different in a winter-time emergency?” In the responses, which were anonymous, one resident said, “In the wintertime, there should be temporary housing provided. [Whether] it be with neighbors or a shelter situation such as the middle/senior high gym. Anything that can provide warmth for Weston resident.”

Another resident said, “the situation would be much more severe and life-threatening if the temps were below freezing; a 7-day blackout could not happen without life-threatening consequences.”

Many residents also expressed concern over how the elderly or disabled would cope with a loss of electricity during the winter months. One said, “I would anticipate a far more hazardous situation in the winter than in the summer. A storm is always inconvenient, but in the winter it would be a disaster including loss of life if it were a prolonged event without electricity.”

Weinstein agreed with the survey results and felt that communication was a key factor in keep everyone safe during an emergency situation, she said.

“We need to know about the residents in town that may need our assistance before the emergency occurs,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein plans to establish “block captains” throughout the community to help “pass town messages to residents or to pass messages to town officials,” she said. Those block captains would be volunteer town residents.

The town is also expected to broadcast two CodeRED safety messages a day to area residents in the event of a severe emergency, Weinstein said.

What are your thoughts on the town’s preparedness for emergencies? Contact Easton reporter, Erin Lynch, at elynch@thedailyeaston.com .

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