CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – The next time a situation like Hurricane Sandy makes its way to New Castle, the town will be ready. That is the thinking behind the new three-prong communications system the New Castle Town Board presented last night in its first meeting of 2013.
The three parts are:
- The CodeRED robocall alert system;
- An interactive online mapping system;
- A comprehensive emergency communications plan with input from the police and fire departments and the ambulance corps.
It will cost the town $8,300 a year.
“All of this is in response to the Town Board asking for a comprehensive communications plan,” said Town Administrator Penny Paderewski. “We think we have accomplished that.”
Paderewski, along with Public Works Commissioner Anthony Vaccaro and Lyle Anderson, a Chappaqua resident, volunteer and consultant, spent the past six weeks figuring out what the town needed to better coordinate with not only its residents, but its first responders in the police and fire departments.
“The perception — and reality — was we did not have a good system in place prior to Hurricane Sandy,” Anderson said. “There were some aspects already in place, but not everything. Hopefully, now, we have everything we need to communicate.”
With the CodeRED alert system test ready to be sent out to 8,000 — and counting — phone numbers on Thursday, the other component the town wants the public to be aware of is a new event mapping system, which can be found at eoc.mynewcastle.org.
Anderson demonstrated how the system operates. Anyone, from residents to first responders, can file details of road situations, which then will be approved by a map system administrator. Details such as photographs, fallen trees and wires, road closings, power outages, shelter sites, and areas with available WiFi access can be uploaded by users.
The town anticipates the new mapping system will be a significant improvement, as it previously tracked road closings and power outages with a wall-sized town map and dry-erase markers in New Castle Town Hall.
“We are very excited and eager about the mapping system,” Vaccaro said. “Of course, hopefully, we’ll never have to use it.”
Residents may register to receive alerts at the Town of New Castle website, www.mynewcastle.org, by following the CodeRED link at the upper left side of the page. Those without Internet access may pick up a form at New Castle Town Hall from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.