Opinion

Neighborhood watches needed for storm safety | Our Opinion | Jan. 27

While the power outages during the recent snowstorm were relegated to just a few small areas, there were several instances of islanders being stranded for much of the three-day event. Those isolated instances may seem minor, but they illustrate a dire need for additional “warming stations” other than the one now established at the Senior Community Center.

That warming station was prepared to go into action, but the Winslow area was not hit by outages so it was never officially activated. However,  some areas were without power and could have used a neighborhood station to ensure no one fell through the cracks. Fortunately, Sustainable Bainbridge’s “Prepared Neighborhoods” program is now under way in an effort to establish neighborhood “watches” during storms in several areas on the island, including Rolling Bay and other service centers.

An example of this need is an 81-year-old resident on Island Center Way, where about two dozen homes lost power for about three days. The man, who lives alone and has no relatives on the island, was without heat and electricity during most of the storm.

He had called a friend, but when the friend tried to call him back there was no response. Apparently the storm had triggered a switch that caused phones in the area to be inoperative, at least in receiving calls. The phone switch had to be manually reactivated to restore full service in the Fletcher Bay area, which didn’t happen until the storm was over.

By the time the friend got to the elderly man’s house, he was beginning to be affected by the cold and lack of food. After he was checked out to make sure he wasn’t having a stroke and  had some food, the elderly man aided a Bainbridge police officer in making sure there weren’t others  in the area who were stranded.

First responders such as police and fire serve a critical role during such events, but it’s also important for neighbors to be looking out for neighbors so that no one is left behind.

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