LEWISBORO, N.Y. – The Lewisboro Emergency Management Committee is about to get a makeover on how its members will be chosen in the future.
The job of the committee is to prepare for emergencies such as Tropical Storm Irene and last October’s snowstorm by providing services and coordinating with other agencies and first responders while disseminating information to residents.
“During Irene, the town had to look after itself to a great extent,” said Supervisor Peter Parsons. “The committee sort of seizes control when something like that hits. It has to work with NYSEG to prioritize things and build a relationship with them. It has to work with the state to clear the state roads. In other words, do whatever it takes.”
Bill Dingee, who acts as chair of the committee, is also the chief of the Vista Fire Department. He told the town board last week that doing both jobs at once is not feasible. When a crisis hits, he said, he needs to be with the fire department.
“He can’t be in two places at once,” Parsons said.
Consequently, the town board will seek someone who doesn’t have such a conflict to take over as chair. Additionally, much of the remaining committee will be configured in a different manner.
Parsons said that instead of appointing committee members by name, some of them will be appointed by title, such as “Lewisboro Police Chief,” “Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps Captain,” or “Goldens Bridge Fire Department Chief.”
“It won’t be done like that for the whole committee. We will look for those who don’t have a conflict – especially the chairman,” Parsons said. “We will leave ourselves some flexibility to appoint some members by name.”
Parsons said that improved communications will be the goal of the revamped committee. He said the town needs to do a better job of communicating information before a crisis happens. He said one idea is to send magnetic postcards to residents that they can put on a refrigerator. The postcards will contain essential emergency information. He would also have that information posted permanently at the town’s three major shopping centers in Vista, Goldens Bridge and Cross River.
“It would contain information such as where you go during emergencies for things like water, showers, dry ice and Wi-Fi,” he said.
Parsons said he also wants to make sure the town’s seniors and shut-ins have access to the information. He said that demographic is often not as technically savvy as younger people and may struggle with the Internet. He said he wants to find a way to make sure they’re kept in the loop. He notes that the town’s parks and recreation department has a list of seniors, but said he wants it to become more comprehensive so that it includes those who may not be partaking in the town’s senior programs.
“Some of them keep to themselves, which can make it harder to find them,” he said.
Parsons said he is drafting a resolution that will spell out the new way the emergency management committee will be configured and expects the town board to pass it later this month.