Conn. to Test State’s Readiness in Hurricane Drill Today

By | September 7, 2005

With this year’s hurricane season far from over, Connecticut public officials plan to test the state’s response capabilities in a hurricane drill today.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she wants to make sure that Connecticut’s state agencies have a disaster plan ready to go should a serious storm like Hurricane Katrina strike.

“I want to make absolutely certain that Connecticut is at the highest possible stage of emergency planning and readiness,” Rell said. “Frankly, after watching the tragedy of New Orleans, I need to have a higher comfort level that we are at that point.”

Emergency officials are drawing up a route for the mock hurricane, and will focus on how to respond if it struck any section of the state. For example, emergency officials will sort through who declares an evacuation, under what circumstances it is declared and how it is conducted, said David Dearborn, a spokesman for the governor’s office.

They will also look at things such as how to get food, water and other basic supplies to victims should parts of Connecticut be devastated.

The drill will kick off at 10 a.m. at the state armory in Hartford. Staff and commissioners from the departments of public health, public safety, National Guard, environmental protection, transportation, correction, agriculture, education and mental retardation will participate in the exercise.

The last hurricane to strike Connecticut was Hurricane Bob in 1991. The remnants of Hurricane Floyd caused severe flooding in 1999. The hurricane of 1938 killed 600 people in New England and caused $306 million in damages.

In August 1955, a one-two punch from the tail ends of Hurricanes Connie and Hurricane Diane swelled rivers and streams and created deadly floods. Fast-moving waters washed away buildings and entire neighborhoods, killing nearly 100 people and causing $500 million in damage.

Today’s drill will focus on how to respond to a category 5 hurricane.

“While Connecticut’s topography gives us many advantages over locations like New Orleans and the flat Gulf State coastlines, the fact remains that severe flooding is a real possibility,” said Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Commissioner James Thomas.

State officials held a hurricane drill in mid-August, but that focused more on tracking hurricanes and planning for them in advance. This drill will focus more on what happens after the hurricane, Dearborn said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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