Oxford First Selectman Releases Statement on Storm

See what Drayton-Rogers has to say.

From Oxford First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers:

The Winter Storm of October 29, 2011 wreaked havoc on the Town of Oxford.  What started out to look rather pretty and white on the trees and shrubs throughout our community soon turned our roads dangerous and developed into a town wide disaster. Wires were left hanging, utility poles and wonderful mature trees were blocking roads and dangerous tree limbs were balancing above.  A real emergency situation and crisis hit the town.  Many of our yards are still suffering from the aftereffects and the scenery of Oxford has changed.

This all happened on a weekend so school children and buses were out of harms way but it resulted in damage to a roof and equipment at Building 6 at Oxford Center School.   The Quaker Farms School and the Oxford High School were converted into emergency shelter and shower facilities resulting in the close of the public school system.  Public Works and Police personnel along with Emergency Responders and volunteer Firefighters are always the first ones called into action and the town’s highly competent Emergency Management Director (EMD), Scott Pelletier, takes control of coordinating each department’s activities.  Our CodeRED emergency communication system once again became the means that many residents counted on for information and the newly created directional signs for “Emergency Shelter” and “Water Available Here” helped direct residents to necessary locations.

The aftermath of this winter storm has been chaotic and draining with long power outages for most which leaves residents without heat, without water, without power and all the resulting inconveniences.  Phone service was lost to many leaving them feeling isolated.  While local officials knew what to do and did it extremely well, most felt that their utility company let them down once again in the same fashion that had happened with Hurricane Irene just two months previous to this storm.

The work that goes on behind the eyes of the general public is immediate and is immense.  I cannot address what the state or the major utility companies go through, but I can address what happens locally.  The EMD, First Selectman and emergency responders are in immediate contact working together to assure our resident’ safety is addressed. Contact with regional agencies is established.  Because of the devastation throughout the majority of the state, working with the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is a necessity.  Connecticut Light and Power’s regional coordinator is onboard immediately as well.  Some of the decisions made following the earlier hurricane in Connecticut were implemented, such as assigning a liaison to the town to transfer information between the town and the utility company. Other action plan items were not yet ready to be realized such as immediately assigning a utility crew to each affected town in the state including Oxford.  This must be done in any future events and should have been in place for October 29.

I can’t give enough praise to our local workers and volunteers for their outstanding dedication and unselfish response to the town of Oxford.  You are remarkable individuals that go above and beyond what is asked of you.  Most residents have understood the immensity of what happened in our town and reacted with civility and patience.  A few have refused the offers of assistance made to them or felt the need to blame their inconveniences on the utility companies or on the town.  To those few, little can be said to console them except that each situation is a learning curve for everyone involved.  The town will always strive to do better for our own and it is our hope that working with, and insisting that the utility companies involved do a better job for their customers, it will result in improved  performance on their part as well.

The clean up is extensive and will continue now for weeks or months until it is finalized.  We will work with state and federal officials to address the positive and the negative of this event.  We will continue to meet our local needs.  We will bring information to our residents, just as we did following the hurricane, with news releases, public hearings and public meetings with FEMA officials and local residents. 

It is the hope of your local officials that Oxford residents will have the conveniences that you deserve restored to your lives without further delay.  We will continue our work to make this happen for you.

Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers

First Selectman

Rich Gee November 05, 2011 at 04:24 PM
First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers has dropped the ball. Thank you so much for telling us what we already know in your letter. CL&P had dropped the ball. You had a perfect chance to make up for Irene and you actually did worse. Amazing! Compare her management with Newtown's Pat Llodra - Pat has been continuously communicating with her entire community every night via phone message and employing all of the resources at her disposal to help the CL&P crews. She outlined what happened and what procedures will be delivered each day. Every night, another message went out letting her citizens know what transpired. CL&P's management should start looking for a new job. In business, if you make a mistake, you are usually reprimanded and allowed to keep your job. When you make the same exact mistake again with deeper consequences, you better start packing up the box on your desk. Could it be because CL&P stiffed all the gracious crews who showed up for Irene and decided to pass on our next emergency? Could it be that CL&P should have assessed suspect trees and branches near lines and worked closely with Oxford to eliminate them? Or that there should be multiple redundancies put in place to ensure if one line is severed, another can deliver power? What does this second fiasco (in two months) teach us? Buy a generator, a wood stove, many electrical cords, flashlights, and candles. Because the only person you can trust to keep your family warm and your house safe is YOU.
Kelly Donohue November 05, 2011 at 04:40 PM
I couldn't agree more Rich. What a waste of time just reading the thing. This particular statement is utterly ridiculous: "A few have refused the offers of assistance made to them or felt the need to blame their inconveniences on the utility companies or on the town. To those few, little can be said to console them except that each situation is a learning curve for everyone involved": So, the only communication we get from the town leadership is Poor Us, we're working hard so, stop whining. Shameful. I also noticed both in Irene and this time there was no way to get in touch with anyone at Town Hall on Fridays because they remained closed without any backup for non-emergency related issues. Regarding CL&P, did you see the NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/business/the-troubling-connecticut-power-failure.html?_r=4
Pinch Hitter November 05, 2011 at 05:14 PM
What a bunch of whiny little babies you all are. What, you couldn't take a shower or enjoy your Starbucks? Grow up and stop being a part of the problem! The first day Mary Ann was calling on CL&P to respond and people criticized her for being critical. The town has put out CodeRED alerts everyday with updates. The town website has had information posted on it too. Mary Ann and Oxford do not manage or control CL&P, so she or the town cannot dictate what, when, where, or how CL&P work in Oxford. Your lives got interrupted for a week, BIG DEAL, all of ours did too and I'm not complaining. I suggest spending some quality time with your family because each of you sound like spoiled brats and probably care only for yourselves, which is why you are unhappy and ungrateful individuals.
Rich Gee November 05, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Pinch - It's one thing to 'dictate' and another to sit on ones' hands and hope for the best. The Code Red announcements are sad - go listen to Newtown's - they are on par with Roosevelt's fireside chats. Finally, if you really believe in what you write, stand tall and don't hide behind a fake username. Let's keep this discussion civil and dispense with the name-calling too. We're all in this together.
Kelly Donohue November 05, 2011 at 06:22 PM
Being a single mother with two young kids, I am happy to report that everyone I have asked for help have been very empathetic and supportive. Your response is derogatory and rude and fortunately does not seem to represent the majority of the kind citizens of Oxford. Kudos on not complaining.
John M. Joy November 05, 2011 at 06:37 PM
Not for anything but... As regards Newtown: I'm looking at the outage map right now, and they're at 40% to our 19%, so, if you're trying to argue that their politicians are somehow more effective than ours...
Katie Silversey November 05, 2011 at 06:45 PM
Hey Rich, why don't you move to Newtown. The grass is always greener, you know.
John M. Joy November 05, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Um, no, the Selectmen couldn't just go out and hire lineman crews to work on CL&P's equipment. The power distribution network is the property of the area's distribution company. The regulatory authority over them lies with the DPUC, NOT the Town of Oxford Board of Selectmen. Perhaps, if anyone is most deserving of a good swift kick in the trousers over this, it's the members of the DPUC for allowing CL&P to defer maintenance like they have.
NEW GOP November 05, 2011 at 10:21 PM
Hey Mark--I wish you and your family the best. I'll be sending you some positive vibes. Good Luck and hopefully the power will come shortly!
John M. Joy November 05, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Man, you have considerably more faith in politicians and bureaucrats than I have. Remember: these are the same guys who were supposed to be making sure CL&P was prepared in the first place! Electricity distribution is a government-granted monopoly, and is, consequently, highly regulated. What we're seeing is the net result of years of deferred maintenance (under the "watchful" eyes of the DPUC) meets tree-weakening hurricane meets, two months later, some early snow. None of these, separately, would have caused such chaos. Together, OTOH... Nor do I think this is going to be the last incident of this kind, in power distribution or elsewhere. For homework (for everyone, not just Mark): for the next week, as you go about your business, try to identify potential points of failure, whether they're deferred maintenance, overreliance on a single entity, assumptions about future availability of products or resources that may prove incorrect, ... There are plenty, especially in the US of today, which is deep in red ink. Don't assume things will always be as they are, and certainly don't assume that someone else will take care of you when things fail. Ounce of preparedness etc.
MOM November 06, 2011 at 01:08 AM
With all due respect Mr. Gee, I had the opposite feeling. I received Code Red messages several times a day giving me the latest updates. I thought the Town did a great job on informing everyone what was going on, including where to go for shelter and water if needed. If the First Selectman says "it's sunny out today," someone will argue with her over the fact that it may be "partly sunny." It's getting embarassing . . .
Mary Beth Nelsen November 07, 2011 at 11:56 AM
The First Selectman was on CL&P from Day One, and there were those quick to criticize her for not being more considerate of the potential danger to CL&P workers, preferring to leave the danger to volunteer firefighters, police and the general public. Now it looks like she's getting criticized for not personally fixing the lines herself. Guess her magic wand was out for repair. By CL&P, no doubt.
Bernard November 07, 2011 at 12:11 PM
John, please stop influencing me with your Libertarian views! Your comments here are right on. While we probably won't agree on the proper role of government, you are on point in this post. We have now been through 2 storms that have demonstrated the limits of both corporate and governmental abilities to fully manage these types of occurrences. We would all be well-served to learn the lesson we are being taught and prepare ourselves for the thing coming next. To quote Bob Marley - "None but ourselves can free our minds" (and heat). When you're right - you're right!
vScottv November 07, 2011 at 12:18 PM
Mary Ann, Is the town looking into providing roadside cleanup service? I've heard other towns are providing this service and recieving state/federal funds to offset the cost. Perhaps even CL&P can be pushed to provide some funds for a cleanup effort.
Kenn Maher November 07, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Maryann,you did a great job! I agree with Katie.Go to Newtown or get a generator and stop expecting everyone else to solve some of the problems you can solve yourself.Take charge of your own life, stop whining. Get off the cell phone and buy a chain saw!!! And by the way, we were out for 8 days.Learn to deal with dissapointment!! Kenn Maher
John M. Joy November 07, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Must EVERYTHING with you have a political angle?
Truman November 07, 2011 at 02:16 PM
CSI, to change things Vote Row A.
vScottv November 07, 2011 at 02:46 PM
Thanks for the informative response CSI
Connie November 07, 2011 at 03:41 PM
I agree 100% - I think everyone needs a reality check- I know of a family with three small children that lost their mother on Sunday- I'm sure listening to everyone whine about a week of inconvenience is insulting. I also have a 93 year old neighbor who made it 5 days in her house with no heat- no complaints. Lets try to be supportive of eachother!
Mary Beth Nelsen November 07, 2011 at 05:57 PM
You DO realize they can't pay overtime for secretaries because the BOF wouldn't OK it, don't you?


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