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A Community's Competence And Care



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A Community’s Competence And Care

On Sunday, when we were all told to stay off the roads and not venture outside until the worst hazards of a dangerous storm had passed, our relationship with Irene — agitated as she was with her cranky transition from hurricane to tropical storm — was an isolated and intimate one. Sobbing floods down our rivers and streams, while throwing trees and branches around, blocking roads and stripping away our connections to the power grid, the Internet, and the world at large, the storm confronted us one-on-one with her outsized tantrum. But by Monday morning, Irene was gone. The sun was out, and it was possible to leave the house, and pick our way through the maze of tree-and-wire blocked roads to start the process of reconnecting with our community.

Though much of town still lacked power, and the process of getting from Point A to Point B rivaled the challenge of the Paproskis’ best corn mazes, there was relief that we had gotten through the storm without serious injury, despite some significant damage and serious lingering inconveniences. Other places fared worse. Other places lost people. Other places lack the networks of competence and care that Newtown has, which makes every Monday morning here, no matter how daunting, a time for confidence and hope.

Those networks reach deep into our community as people work in concert and frequently on their own to help each other out. This newspaper is full of their stories week in, week out, but this week we want to express our particular gratitude — once again — to Newtown’s dedicated corps of emergency responders. The coordination of the emergency response to this powerful storm at the town’s new Emergency Operations Center brought order to a chaotic situation and established priorities in a long, difficult day of cascading problems to ensure that public and personal safety always came first. The judicious use of the town’s Code Red system also kept people informed about their options during the storm, including emergency shelter, water, ice, and other assistance when it was needed.

The return to normalcy in Newtown is taking a long time, as Connecticut Light & Power slowly restores power, and the town’s highway crews make all the back roads passable again. Our run-in with Irene is not something we want to repeat any time soon, but it is reassuring to know that our community is up to the task of dealing effectively and efficiently with an emergency as big as a thousand-mile hurricane.

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