CONWAY PRAISED IN IRENE AFTER ACTION REPORT

by Christian Mower on February 4, 2012

CONWAY FIRE CHIEF AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR STEVE SOLOMON SAYS THERE’S NO DOUBT ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE TOWN LAST YEAR DURING TROPICAL STORM IRENE SAVED LIVES. STILL, SOME ACTION AREAS CAN BE IMPROVED.

LAST WEEK SOLOMON PRESENTED CONWAY SELECTMEN WITH AN AFTER ACTION REPORT ON THE STORM THAT HIT SUNDAY, AUGUST 28TH (2011). IN IT HE SAYS THE TOWN EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER SHOULD BE STAFFED EARLIER IN AN EMERGENCY LIKE IRENE SO COMMUNICATIONS DON’T SUFFER AND ALL REPORTED INCIDENTS CAN BE PROPERLY TRACKED.

SOLOMON ASKS CONWAY TO CONSIDER ORDERING THE MANDATORY EVACUATION OF NEIGHBORHOODS LIKE TRANSVALE ACRES – THE PRIVATE COMMUNITY OFF WEST SIDE ROAD THAT SUFFERED CATASTROPHIC FLOODING DAMAGE AND WAS DECLARED A DISASTER AREA – AND WHETHER THE TOWN HAS THE POLITICAL WILL TO ARREST PEOPLE WHO IGNORE SUCH AN ORDER – AN ORDER HE SAYS NEEDS TO BE WEIGHED AGAINST THE DANGER TO RESCUERS GOING IN TO GET PEOPLE WHO REFUSE TO LEAVE.

DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM SUNDAY NIGHT, FIREFIGHTERS FROM CENTER CONWAY, NORTH CONWAY, CONWAY AND MADISON BRAVED RAGING SACO RIVER WATERS TO SAVE NEARLY TWO DOZEN TRANSVALE ACRES RESIDENTS WHO BECAME STRANDED AFTER THEY IGNORED EARLIER REQUESTS TO EVACUATE.

THE CHIEF SAYS IT WAS INCREDIBLY COMPLICATED AND DANGEROUS.

IRENE CAUSED THE WORST FLOODING IN CONWAY’S RECORDED HISTORY WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE 1938 HURRICANE – SOLOMON SAYS THE SACO WAS RUNNING AT THE UNPRECEDENTED RATE OF MORE THAN 400,000 GALLONS A SECOND.

HE CREDITS THREE COMMERCIAL RIVERSIDE CAMPGROUNDS FOR EVACUATING AS MANY AS 800 CAMPERS BEFORE THE STORM AND HE PRAISES CONWAY’S RECREATION DEPARTMENT FOR FEEDING DISPLACED PEOPLE AT THE EMERGENCY SHELTER AT THE COMMUNITY BUILDING IN CENTER CONWAY.

RED CROSS WORKERS ASSISTED AT THE SHELTER BUT WITHOUT A FORMAL WORKING AGREEMENT – THE CHIEF RECOMMENDS NEXT TIME A RED CROSS LIAISON COORDINATE ALL ACTIVITY WITH THE TOWN. HE ALSO ADDRESSES ISSUES OF EQUIPMENT COMPATABILITY AND TRAINING.

THERE WERE NO STORM RELATED FATALITIES IN CONWAY OR INJURIES TO EMERGENCY RESPONDERS – THREE CIVILIANS SUFFERED STORM-RELATED INJURIES. SOLOMON PRAISES POLICE, FIREFIGHTERS AND HIGHWAY WORKERS FOR WORKING TOGETHER.