Jul 30, 2014

'After-Action Report' to Look Back at Sandy Response in Hamilton

Town leaders in Hamilton will look back at the response to Hurricane Sandy in an "after-action report"

'After-Action Report' to Look Back at Sandy Response in Hamilton

Town leaders in Hamilton will take a hard look back at the response to Hurricane Sandy and come up with an “after-action report,” according to Town Manager Michael Lombardo.

Lombardo told the Board of Selectmen earlier this week that the storm was “more problematic and difficult” to deal with than a wintertime snowstorm.

Lombardo said he expects to share the report with agencies such as the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and National Grid, the power company that serves the town.

The report will look at the things that wee helpful during the storm response and things that did not go as expected.

The most significant impact townwide was power outages, which started on Sunday night, Oct. 28 and lasted until Thursday, Nov. 1. There were wires down in many places in Hamilton and several roads were blocked for a time. All of the roads were reopened by Wednesday morning, Oct. 31. Two homes were “severely damaged,” Lombardo said and another home received less severe damage.

“This was a massive, widespread even and we fared reasonably well,” Lombardo said.

One suggestion from Selectman Jennifer Scuteri – set up one phone line specifically to handle storm-related questions.

In announcing the plans to develop the report, Lombardo again defended officials decision to reschedule Trick-o-Treat on Halloween. Early in the afternoon on Halloween, officials announced that Trick-or-Treat was rescheduled to Saturday night because of concern of downed trees and wires and neighborhoods that were still without power.

“At the beginning of the day we did not think Halloween needed to be postponed,” Lombardo said.

One of the biggest concerns was that National grid said there was no way to ensure that all of the downed power lines were not energized. Even if the company cuts power, residents that have generators connected to their home’s power system could be energizing the lines, he said.

Plus, National Grid initially said that all homes in the town would have power restored by Wednesday evening.

“That didn’t happen until Thursday,” Lombardo said.

Selectman Marc Johnson told Lombardo that he received more complaints about the decision to reschedule Halloween than he did about how long it took to get power restored.

“I know it all comes down to – because of the world we live in – liability,” said Selectman Jeff Hubbard.

But Lombardo said it was “public safety and hazard issues” and not liability that led to the decision. There were 1,600 homes without power at the start of the day and there was no promise at that time about when power would be restored.

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