Southbury Prepares for When Next Big Storm Hits

By Jamie Ratliff
|  Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014  |  Updated 9:38 AM EDT
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Southbury Prepares for When Next Big Storm Hits

A small transfer switch at a gas station in Southbury could make all the difference when the next big storm, like Irene or Sandy, hits and takes out all the lights. 

The 2011 Halloween nor'easter knocked out power to more than 800,000 homes and many were in the dark for more than a week. As a result, there were long lines at gas stations for days.
 
"You weren't able to go to the food store. You weren't able to go to the pharmacy. You basically couldn't go anywhere," said Southbury resident Mark Lancor.
 
To prepare for another big event, Southbury's Emergency Management Director Barry Rickart looked at what they had and how he could put it to use.
 
"We had this generator sitting in the public works garage that I saw," said Rickart. "I said, ''What can we do with this?'"
 
He contacted the gas stations in town and made them an offer. If they provided the $5,000 hookup, the town would bring them the generator.
 
Citgo Gas and Main Street Deli made the deal.
 
"It's very good for us, for the people of Southbury, and I think it's a win-win situation for everybody," said Koco Pela, co-owner of the business.
 
The town is also turning an old building into a point of distribution center that will be filled with emergency supplies from FEMA. The Eagle Scouts cleaned it up, and the town only had to pay for light installation, which cost about $2,200. 
 
Southbury also hired two volunteer long-term recovery coordinators to manage rebuilding communities following a disaster.
 
They hope what they've done now has them prepared for the next storm.
 
"We are now head and shoulders above many others I believe in getting to that point," said Rickart. "Many communities have taken initiatives. I think Southbury has taken the extra step."
 

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