WILTON, Conn. Officials who oversee Wilton's emergency personnel wrapped up a two-day hurricane disaster drill Tuesday that was designed to simulate the effects of a Category 3 hurricane.
"The drill simulated what it would be like if we had a major storm accompanied by a huge power outage," First Selectman William Brennan said. For example, what if 10 percent of the town's 18,000 residents needed to stay in the town's emergency shelters, such as the Wilton Field House, Comstock Community Center or Miller Driscoll School.
During the drill, signs were placed at 25 locations throughout town to identify shelters and other emergency facilities, and 8,700 "Code Red" calls and emails were delivered to residents, Brennan said. Code Red is the state's emergency messaging system, and the notices alerted residents that it was only a drill.
"If this was a real emergency, you would be notified by a 'Code Red' message, which would provide the latest emergency information regarding the status of the approaching storm and the preparations that should be taken by all citizens," Brennan said in the message.
Representatives from the police and fire departments, the volunteer ambulance corps, and Social Services and Parks & Recreation departments, in addition to Connecticut Light & Power and other agencies participated in the exercise.
The town could "cope for a few days" after a big storm, Brennan said, but a lot would depend on how quickly supplies could be distributed.
"One of the big problems you face is that the cellphone towers will eventually start to go down after a few days, and people start to get into stress mode," he said.
Additionally, 80 percent of the town's water supplies are from wells, and after 72 hours those start to run dry.
Town officials urge residents to prepare now for emergencies, instead of at the last minute, Brennan said. Residents should make sure they have enough food and water on hand for each family member for a week.
In the drill, Wilton officials examined the storm's effects from every possible angle.
"We asked ourselves a series of questions, such as how would we manage clearing debris? How would we handle the elderly? How many gas stations have generators so they can continue pumping gas?" he said.
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