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Report reveals need for better storm preparations | Our Opinion | Dec. 10

Luckily, no major disasters emerged from last month’s surprisingly severe early-winter storm. Islanders were isolated in a serious danger zone after about three inches of snow and below-freezing temperatures struck, followed by a nasty north wind that led to extensive power outages for as long three days. It was no fun, but it could have been much worse.

Led by Interim City Manager Brenda Bauer and first-responders such as the fire and police departments, the city has produced an “after-action” report that reveals just how ill-prepared the city is for such storms. (The report is available on the city’s website.)

The first-responders and the city’s Public Works Department were prepared and performed up to expectations, but as Bauer said Wednesday at the council meeting, “We are truly an island when we have bad weather and we have to look at things a little different.”

Yes, such as making sure that the island’s gas stations have enough generator capacity to keep fueling pumps operational so residents and emergency crews won’t be stranded. Other suggestions in the report included:

• Designating the Fire Station facility as a multi-agency coordination center;

• Developing an on-island shelter plan for longer winter weather events;

• Consider a large generator capacity for City Hall and the Police Station, the latter of which is woefully underpowered;

• Consider adding additional dedicated fuel storage;

• The city should develop a 4-wheel drive vehicle transportation plan for essential personnel or emergency where firefighters are not the appropriate responder.

Schools, fire, police and public works had pre-season meetings with some groups, but Councilor Hilary Franz suggested that a general meeting of the community might be effective in answering important questions.

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