Utility Companies Learn From Natural Disasters in 2011
There was a June tornado that devastated part of the region.
Tropical Storm Irene caused widespread flooding problems.
And then the October snowstorm knocked power out throughout Western Massachusetts for several days.
Utility crews were stretched thin but lessons were learned that helped them better prepare for Hurricane Sandy,”In every storm we learn from it and I think we improved some of our communications tools with our municipal liaisons, they had better access to get specific details on outages and crews working and some maps, and so far all the feedback has been positive it’s been a great improvement,” says Peter Clarke, President of WMECO.
Local emergency preparedness teams noted the improvement,”This year was 100 percent better, one of the things that we really did throughout this whole past year was coordinate with them on a daily basis for the rebuild from the tornado, rebuild after the snowstorm so we were interacting with them a lot and really talking about what was going to happen the next time a big event came on,” says Springfield City Engineer Chris Cignoli.
Springfield’s Emergency Preparedness team says Western Mass Electric kept in close contact through its own liaison to the city,”This year they really stepped up to the plate, they brought in resources well in advance, they were very prepared for it and one of the things they did differently was they actually imbedded an individual with us so we could have direct communication with them and let them know what the problems were and they let us know what their issues were,” says Robert Hassett, Director of Emergency Preparedness for Springfield.
Western Mass. Electric says it also embarked on a large scale tree trimming project to remove branches from areas near power lines, thus reducing the potential number of outages if trees and branches came down.