At the most recent meeting of the emergency management directors in the area, the group again discussed the importance of the state’s emergency notification system. They stressed all the positives of the new system, namely how it can now send alerts to not just a home phone, but also via email and to cellphones, both as a phone call and a text message.
But at the end of the meeting, Waterford Police Chief Murray Pendleton, who also serves as the town’s director of emergency management, asked state officials how many people in Waterford have signed up for the alert system. The number was shocking, he said.
“Only 300 people,” Pendleton said.
That number should be far higher, ideally 100 percent of the population, he said. The state has created a very effective program to alert people about disasters that can affect them, and it would be in “everybody’s best interest to sign up,” Pendleton said.
The idea behind the system is simple: If a major event happens that will put the public at risk, the public will be alerted through the system. Catastrophes that would warrant an alert would be a truck accident that spills dangerous substances or any major problem at Millstone Power Station, Pendleton said.
The previous system only sent a message to home phones. This new system is much more effective, the chief said.
“If your house is anything like my house, a call to the house is a wasted call because nobody is ever home,” Pendleton said. “This way you can get the alert instantly.”In an earlier interview, Pendleton stressed the importance of listening to these alerts.
Town and state officials will only recommend drastic action, such as evacuation, when there is a real potential for danger, so trust the alert and follow the instructions, he said.
“The best thing you can do is have a plan, know where you are going, and leave,” Pendleton said.
To sign up for the state emergency response system, click here. If you are unsure about where to go in case of an evacuation, or have any other concerns about public safety or the town’s emergency management plan, call the first selectman or the police department.