Barnstable officials prepare safety plans ahead of winter storm season

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HYANNIS — As hurricane season continues and winter approaches, Barnstable County safety officials outline their efforts to ensure a quick and effective response to any potential disaster.

State Department of Health and Environment emergency preparedness specialist William Riley said the region has conducted three major training exercises, and one has already proven useful during of a recent emergency on the islands.

“One was Operation Poseidon,” Riley said.

“It was a drill on how to get first responders to Martha’s Vineyard in case they had an incident requiring personnel. We completed this plan a week before the Nantucket fire. Chiefs were able to take some of these components and apply them to how to bring firefighters to Nantucket.

Riley said the region is a leader in emergency preparedness, especially when it comes to providing shelter, but some barriers remain, including limited volunteer staff.

“Our shelter program is volunteer-based and we rely heavily on these volunteers to staff the shelters when we activate them. We know we have challenges there,” Riley said.

“We are in the process of launching an awareness campaign. We are in the process of supporting partner agencies through recruitment. Throughout our local outreach events that we will be attending over the next two months – things like Barnstable 55+ day – we will be there to talk about emergency preparedness and also shelter operations and, hopefully mobilize some volunteers.

The Barnstable 55+ Community Safety Day event will take place on September 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will allow older residents to learn about local safety resources.

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