Bruce Driska, the city’s emergency management director, feels more than prepared for Hurricane Sandy, the storm that many meteorologists are likening to the “perfect storm” of 1991.
On Thursday, the Category 2 storm hit the Bahamas and already Connecticut weather forecasters, like Ryan Hanrahan, meteorologist at NBC CT/WVIT, had made a couple of predictions in his blog post, “Dangerous Sandy Eyeing the Northeast.”
“The northeast is facing a serious threat from Hurricane Sandy with the potential for a devastating impact somewhere in the storm’s path,” he wrote. He acknowledged that Connecticut isn’t expected to feel the storm’s effect until late Sunday in Monday.
“I do think, however, that this storm will be an historic event for someone in the northeast. Too early to say if it’s New England or Washington, D.C.,” Hanrahan wrote.
Driska says he’s confident that Middletown will — excuse the pun — weather this storm. That’s because of the valuable lessons learned from the Oct. 29, 2011, freak snowstorm and Hurricane Irene last August.
There have been major changes in Connecticut’s response to storms, Driska say.
“We’re coordinating with the state differently now on how the state is issuing warnings and offering assistance,” Driska said.
In the last several months, he said, Middletown safety officials have had several meetings with the state, including a statewide exercise on July 28, “that was aimed to hone the skills necessary to address these types of disasters and emergencies.”
On Friday, he’ll meet with Mayor Dan Drew and police and fire officials to touch base on city storm preparedness.
“We’re not worried about the snow right now,” Driska said. “We’re worried about prolonged high winds and rains, coastal flooding and tidal flooding.”
There are not many low-lying areas in Middletown, however, he explained, “we do have some compromised roads,” in which, during such storms, “traffic is cut off because of flooding.”
Fortunately, city residents in these areas are already aware of potential weather-related issues because of what they learned during last year’s August and October double punch.
“We were confronted with many, many obstacles from both of those storms,” Driska said, “so we looked at those both during and after, saying, ‘how are we going to address those in the future — or do it better in the future?’”
Middletown High is ready in case it needs to be activated by Mayor Drew as an emergency shelter.
“The generator at the high school was tested this morning and was getting periodic maintenance coincidentally,” Driska said.
“Emergency management knows what to expect, public works knows what to expect and they know we do the rerouting and people that live in the area know when there’s flooding it’s going to happen like that."