Category Archives: USA

Maine | Winter/ice storm settling in over state

The State Emergency Operations Center is activated in response to a major winter storm targeting Maine.

Situation:

A major winter storm is affecting the entire State of Maine. Warnings /Advisories in place:

  • Freezing Rain Advisory (1/4 inch of ice): York County
  • Winter Storm Warning: Significant snowfall, with some sleet and freezing rain: Aroostook, Northern Oxford, Franklin, Penobscot, Central and Northern Somerset and Piscataquis Counties,
  • Ice Storm Warning: One half inch or more of freezing rain: Remainder of the State

National Weather Service indicates that freezing rain and drizzle will continue into Monday in many areas, causing locally dangerous conditions. Because of the long duration, both NWS forecast offices are still forecasting a total of one half to three-quarters of an inch of ice in the warning areas, with local amounts of an inch possible. All parties should continue to monitor local weather forecasts.

Outage reports:

Power outage numbers are fluctuating as restoration takes place and new outages are reported.

Injuries/Fatalities:

  • None reported

Other impacts/responses:

  • The State Emergency Operations Center was activated at 8:00 am at Level 2 status (MEMA staff plus DACF/Forestry, MaineDOT, DPS/Maine State Police, Public Utilities Commission and Red Cross
  • Warming center open at 31 Turkey Lane in Buxton; however has no occupants presently and therefore may close this afternoon
  • The American Red Cross is standing by to staff shelters as the need warrants: no Red Cross shelters are open at this time

Declarations:

  • Governor Paul R. LePage declared a State of Emergency on December 21, to ensure that all State resources would be available to assist affected communities

Critical Safety messages:

  • After ensuring that your family is safe, check in on friends and neighbors who may need assistance. Neighbors helping neighbors save lives. Share safety information with those who might not have received it.
  • Ice on roadways and falling trees and power lines will make travel dangerous or impossible.
  • Travel is strongly discouraged. If you must travel, keep emergency supplies in your car such as flashlight, food and water. Keep a safe distance from other vehicles, including plow trucks. “Please don’t crowd the plow”
  • All the utilities are reminding the public that no fallen power line is safe to touch. If you find a downed power line, call your electric utility immediately
  • Death can result from improper use of generators. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, use generators outside only, at least 15 feet away from doors and windows. Have a carbon monoxide detector with battery back-up where people sleep
  • Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, nausea, vomiting or dizziness. Get out of the house and call 911 at once.

For more help and information:

New York | With influenza prevalent, new regs aim to protect patients and healthcare providers

State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., today declared that influenza has become prevalent in New York State.

Under a new regulation, this requires regulated facilities and agencies to activate their policies and procedures to ensure that their personnel wear a surgical or procedure mask in areas where patients may be present if they have not received a flu vaccine and engage in activities in which they could expose patients to the flu if infected.

The measure is intended to protect patients from getting the flu from their healthcare workers. Influenza can be severe and cause death in persons with underlying medical conditions. Healthcare workers can pose a risk to patients by transmitting influenza infection. The regulation has the added benefit of protecting healthcare workers who are unvaccinated from acquiring the flu from patients and others.

“Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against influenza, and it is important for individuals who come in contact with patients to be vaccinated to help prevent the spread of flu,” said Commissioner Shah. “For those who have not been vaccinated, this regulation is intended to provide patients and caregivers an added layer of protection.”

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) regulatory requirement (Section 2.59 of the New York State Sanitary Code) that health care workers wear masks applies to health care settings regulated by DOH. The settings include general hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostic and treatment centers, certified home health agencies, long term home health care programs, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) home care programs, licensed home care service agencies, limited licensed home care service agencies, and hospices.

The mask requirement remains in effect until the Commissioner declares influenza no longer prevalent in New York State.

Although masks are not as effective in preventing influenza transmission as vaccination, evidence indicates that masks decrease transmission from people experiencing respiratory symptoms. In addition, because persons incubating influenza may shed influenza virus before they have noticeable symptoms, wearing a mask is expected to lessen the transmission without imposing a burden on health care personnel.

Flu activity in the State is now considered to be widespread, with laboratory confirmed cases in more than 45 counties and all boroughs of New York City so far.

“The early reports of flu cases in New York further emphasize the importance of people getting a flu vaccination now” Commissioner Shah said. “A flu vaccination is a safe and effective way to reduce your risk for flu and also protect the health of your family and friends.”

Symptoms of influenza can include the sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches, as well as a cough or sore throat. These symptoms are often similar to cold symptoms, but come on more swiftly and are more pronounced. Although most people will usually recover from flu without complications, the virus poses a more serious risk for individuals younger than age two, those over 50, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions.

Commissioner Shah reminds New Yorkers who have not been vaccinated for influenza that it’s NOT too late to get their annual vaccination. Since flu sometimes peaks in late winter or early spring, vaccinations at this time of year offer important protection. Health care providers and local health departments continue to have ample supplies of flu vaccine.

For more flu-related information, please visit the DOH website at http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal/.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the regulation and other resources are available at http://www.health.ny.gov/FluMaskReg.

New Hampshire | State prepares for potential weekend #icestorm

Governor Maggie Hassan today announced that the state is taking steps to prepare for a potential ice storm beginning early Sunday morning. Storm forecasts are still shifting, with a wide area of the state at risk of significant icing, especially in areas of higher elevation.

“While there is still a great deal of uncertainty in the forecast, the potential for a significant ice storm this weekend means we must make preparations and take every precaution to support local communities,” Governor Hassan said. “We have been in communication with utilities, who are preparing to bring in additional crews to address any potential outages, and we are in regular contact with local emergency response personnel to ensure that they have the information and resources they need.”

“I met directly with department heads this morning, and all state agencies are taking appropriate steps to prepare,” Governor Hassan said. “In addition, we will be opening the state’s Emergency Operations Center and will increase EOC staffing as we reach the height of the potential storm.”

“There is still uncertainty about the impact of this storm, but portions of New Hampshire may experience moderate to heavy icing, especially eastern areas of the State,” said Perry E. Plummer, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “We may see ice up to one inch accumulating on trees and power lines resulting in power outages.”

“I encourage all Granite Staters to take appropriate precautions, such as limiting travel in areas affected by ice, making sure to have appropriate supplies and checking in on neighbors, especially the elderly or those experiencing disabilities. Residents should also clear heavy snow loads off of roofs and be sure to run generators safely if needed with appropriate ventilation,” Governor Hassan said.

In addition to stocking up on emergency supplies, such as water and canned food, in advance of the storm, Granite Staters are encouraged to take the following precautions:

  • Monitor weather conditions via news media, NOAA weather radio or Internet sources.
  • Have at least three days of non-perishable food and two gallons of water per day per person on hand as well as a manual can opener.
  • Have on hand flashlights, a portable radio and extra batteries.
  • Keep vehicle fuel tanks at least half full.
  • Fully charge cell phones, laptops and any other devices before the storm.
  • Assemble a first aid kit including prescription medications and special items for infants or people with disabilities.
  • Before the storm set refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. .
  • Be a good neighbor and check on the well-being of relatives and acquaintances, especially the elderly or others with access and functional needs.
  • If the power goes out:
    • Use flashlights and battery-powered lanterns, not candles, for emergency lighting.
    • Operate emergency generators safely, with exhaust directed away from buildings.
    • Never use outdoor cooking appliances indoors because of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Report the outage to your electric utility. Do not call 9-1-1 unless there’s an emergency.
    • Stay clear of downed wires. Always assume downed power lines are live.
    • Practice generator safety, following operator manuals and tips available at http://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/firesafety/bulletins/documents/2012-03ResidentialGeneratorSafety.pdf pdf file

The New Hampshire Insurance Department has also issued ice storm preparedness tips available here: http://www.nh.gov/insurance/media/pr/2013/documents/pr_122013.pdf pdf file.

Additional information will be posted at http://www.nh.gov/readynh/

New Hampshire | State receives highest score on infectious disease preparedness assessment

The Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) released an assessment of the states’ readiness to deal with a disease outbreak entitled Outbreaks: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases.

New Hampshire has received a score of 8 out of 10 on the indicators analyzed, the highest score of any state and the only one to achieve it. The states received either a yes or no on the preparedness measures. The majority of states (34) scored 5 or lower out of 10 key indicators in the report.

This is the TFAH’s annual preparedness-related report, but unlike “Ready or Not” reports of the past 10 years, this and future reports will focus on the analysis of key national preparedness policy issues rather than measuring and issuing state-specific scores against determined indicators. New Hampshire received a score of 7 out of 10 in 2012. The 2011 report did not rank states but looked at funding and budget cuts. This year’s report looks at 10 measures that are related to public health preparedness, but are not the same indicators from year to year. This analysis offers a good snapshot of where the states are in infectious disease prevention and control, rather than a measure of year-over-year improvement.

“I am very pleased with our score,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS, “and all the hard work our staff and partners have done and the strides we have made in improving our preparedness around infectious diseases since 9/11, but there is always room for improvement. We never know when the next outbreak will strike or what it will be: influenza, MERS-CoV, meningitis, hepatitis, bioterrorism or something else. Fighting existing and emerging infectious diseases requires constant vigilance.”

There were two areas where New Hampshire received a “no” score. The first was the vaccination of 90% of children 19–39 months of age with four doses of DTaP, for which New Hampshire achieved 88.7% in 2012. The second was the immunization of 50% of the population against influenza, and during the 2012–13 season 59.2% of children 6 months to 17 years and 46.1% of adults were vaccinated in the State. The Outbreaks report provides recommendations that address many of the major gaps in infectious disease control and prevention states are experiencing, including:

  • Strengthening fundamental capabilities – maintaining an expert workforce and giving them state-of-the-art tools required to conduct investigations to quickly detect, control and treat disease outbreaks;
  • Countering antibiotic resistance and prioritizing research and development of medical countermeasures should be top health and national security priorities;
  • Increasing the number of Americans receiving recommended vaccinations and routine screenings for particular diseases, since these are the safest and most effective ways to reduce infectious diseases in the United States;
  • Enhancing disease surveillance and ensuring public health laboratories have the equipment and capacity to not only test for common problems like foodborne illnesses but also for new and large-scale threats like bioterrorism or a pandemic;
  • Improving global coordination to prevent and contain emerging new illnesses such as MERS-CoV while maintaining defenses against “old-school” threats like malaria and tuberculosis; and
  • Shoring up the nation’s public health preparedness capabilities to respond to major disease outbreaks or acts of bioterrorism to ensure new threats can be rapidly identified and contained.

To read the entire report, go to http://healthyamericans.org/reports/outbreaks2013/.

Maine | Carbon Monoxide alert for Emergency Departments #IceStorm

With the potential for significant icing in the forecast for the weekend, power outages may affect many Maine households. Hospital emergency departments should be on alert for carbon monoxide poisonings due to improper placement and operation of gas-powered generators and other alternative cooking and power sources.

Carbon monoxide poisonings during storm-related power outages are well documented. After Tropical Storm Irene hit Maine and New England in August 2011, carbon monoxide poisoning was the cause of two deaths and four non-fatal poisonings in Maine. In each case, the carbon monoxide came from improper operation of generators during the power outages that followed the storm.

A study of a CO poisoning outbreak in the aftermath of the January 1998 Ice Storm found that improper placement of a gasoline generator, such as in a basement or garage, could increase the risk of CO poisoning by 20 to 300-fold.

Alert for Hospital Emergency Departments

Carbon monoxide poisoning shares many of the same symptoms of the flu, but without the fever. In a study of the outbreak of CO poisoning following the 1998 ice storm, the most common presenting symptoms were headache (69% of cases), nausea (51%), dizziness (48%), fatigue (31%), vomiting (21%), chest pain (9%), shortness of breath (6%), and loss of consciousness (8%). These symptoms were associated with blood carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) levels ranging from 2% to 50%, with a median of 14%. Some individuals with elevated COHb levels were asymptomatic, and were identified because another household member had symptoms. Background COHb levels in nonsmokers is typically under 2% and for smokers is under 9%.

Reference: Daley R, Smith, AE, et al., An Outbreak of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After a Major Ice Storm in Maine, J. Emerg. Med., Vol. 18 (1):87-93, 2000.

Carbon monoxide poisoning was made a notifiable condition in April 2008.

All cases with clinical signs, symptoms, or known exposure consistent with diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning, and/or a carboxyhemoglobin level equal to or above 5% are now reportable to the ME-CDC. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a Category II notifiable condition, and thus should be reported within 48 hours. Use the same disease reporting lines as used for all notifiable conditions: 1-800-821-5821 (phone); 1-800-293-7534 (fax).

CO Poisoning Prevention Guidance

Place generator outdoors in the fresh air. Keep it more than 15 feet from windows or doors. Do not put a generator in a closed or partly closed space, like a basement, cellar bulkhead, or attached garage. Carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels in these spaces.

Make a plan for how to keep your generator dry and protected from rain so you are not tempted to bring it inside a garage or other enclosed structure. Generators also pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially in wet conditions. Dry your hands, if wet, before touching the generator.

Do not use outdoor cooking devices, such as grills or camp stoves, indoors.

Place a carbon monoxide detector that is battery powered (or has battery back-up power) outside each sleeping area. CO detectors are in most stores. Look for the UL mark with the “Single Station Carbon Monoxide Alarm” statement.

Maine | Prepare for snow, sleet, freezing rain & power outages this weekend

Snow, sleet, rain, freezing rain or a mixture of all is on the way to Maine for late Saturday through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Those areas that experience significant freezing rain will likely be hit with extensive power outages.

There is a potential for slippery travel conditions, downed trees and other issues depending on how the storm develops, so Mainers and visitors need to be ready for any possible scenario. Some parts of Maine are experiencing snowy conditions today, then there will be a brief break Saturday before heavier precipitation begins late on Saturday or very early Sunday, depending on where you are. While far northern areas will likely experience a significant snowfall, freezing rain is the main concern for central and southern sections.

“It’s time to put safety first, and prepare for this serious storm,” Governor Paul R. LePage said today. “Make sure you have what you need to weather the storm, and then check on neighbors who may need some extra help.” The Governor today signed an emergency proclamation that in the event of widespread power outages will allow utility crews to drive additional hours to repair lines and restore power.

Stay informed:

  • Listen to and watch weather forecasts carefully. The storm track is still uncertain. The prediction for your area will become progressively clearer, including the time it will start and the type of precipitation you will receive, so check on forecasts often.
  • During the storm, Maine 2-1-1 will have information on any shelters that are open, as well as safety guidelines. Dial 2-1-1 (toll-free) or, if you have Internet access, visit http://211maine.org

Make a plan:

  • Take a quick inventory to see if you have what you need to remain in your home safely, especially if the power goes out. There should be time Saturday morning, before the worst of the storm moves in, to pick up any supplies you may need.
    • Flashlight?
    • Batteries?
    • Battery powered radio?
    • Water?
    • Non-perishable foods?
    • Medications?
    • Pet food?
  • Check in with any family, neighbors, and friends who might need help preparing for the storm.
  • Consider what you would need if you had to go to an emergency shelter (medications, important papers, etc.)
  • If you have a lot of snow on your roof, clear it off on Saturday before the storm. Rain could soak the snow and add a dangerous amount of weight to the roof.

Power outages:

  • Never run a generator indoors. The Maine CDC recommends that people should always use generators outside and make sure that it is placed at least 15 feet from windows or doors. It’s a good idea to check on your connections now, before the power goes out.
  • If you see a downed power line, leave it alone – always treat power lines as if they are live. A live wire can kill you.
  • If clearing trees or limbs make CERTAIN they are not in contact with a power line. Trees and branches can conduct electricity and electrocute you on contact.
  • Report outages to your power company.

Safe Heating

  • Have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home!
  • Never use an “improvised” heat source like grill or oven as they can be fire or carbon monoxide hazards.
  • Make sure all heating vents are clear and properly discharging out of the house.
  • Make sure snow and ice is not impeding the venting of carbon monoxide and clear it away if it is.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from any heat source.

Travel

  • Check out a weather report before heading out.
  • Visit http://511maine.gov if you have Internet access, or dial 5-1-1 toll free to check on road conditions
  • Drive at appropriate speeds for conditions.
  • Make sure your car is in good working condition with weather appropriate tires and plenty of gas.
  • Throw a blanket, flashlight, cell phone, sand (or anything that can help you get traction if you get stuck), jumper cables, and other items in the car you may need in an emergency.

Safety

  • Be careful on slippery walkways – make sure you have good footing or just stay off them.
  • If you lose power, keep your fridge and freezer closed to keep food cold and safe. A closed fridge will keep food for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours, a half-full freezer for about 24 hours.
  • Don’t cook and eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs or other refrigerated foods that have been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more. They can be contaminated with bacteria that can cause serious illness.

The Maine Emergency Management Agency has been working with the National Weather Service all week to get the best possible information about the storm. In a conference call this morning, the Weather Service briefed MEMA, County and city emergency managers, volunteer partners and key utilities on the expected conditions.

MEMA and County EMA staffs, as well as key state agency staff, are on standby to respond as needed.

Information sources:

The text of the emergency proclamation is:

Governor’s Emergency Proclamation for US DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Hours of Service Waiver

WHEREAS, the State of Maine is preparing to experience the effects of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and hazardous build-up of icing that have the potential to impact transportation routes and put thousands of Maine homes and businesses out of power; and

WHEREAS, work crews will have to work many hours to clear roads and restore power; and

WHEREAS, power restoration crews may be requested from other service areas and states and potentially Canadian provinces to assist in power restoration; and

WHEREAS, federal rules determine the number of hours the driver of an electrical line repair vehicle may operate; and

WHEREAS, drivers of such vehicles must cease operations when they reach the federal limit on hours of operation, and therefore would have to cease power restoration; and

WHEREAS, these conditions threaten public health and safety and endanger the property of Maine homes and businesses; and

WHEREAS, these conditions are expected to extend until December 29, 2013; and

WHEREAS, the declaration of a State of Emergency will facilitate the granting of a waiver from the US the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pursuant to 49 CFR part 390.23 to allow relief from 49 CFR parts 390 through 399, specifically 49 CFR part 395 Hours of Service of Drivers, and subject to the limitations described below, and therefore allow drivers of electrical line repair vehicles to operate additional hours, and

WHEREAS, motor carriers that have an Out-Of-Service Order in effect may not take advantage of the relief from regulation that this declaration provides under 49 CFR 390.23

NOW THEREFORE, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of Maine, find that these conditions constitute a civil emergency under 37-B M.R.S.A. section 742, and for the purpose pursuant to 49 CFR part 390.23 of facilitating a waiver to the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, specifically 49 CFR part 395 Hours of Service of Drivers, do hereby declare that a State of Emergency exists as of December 20, 2013 through December 29, 2013.

Texas | Montgomery County – Four patients die after contracting unidentified flu-like illness

As of Wednesday afternoon, there has been one confirmed case of H1N1 virus. Of the eight reported cases, four patients have deceased. Of the remaining four cases in an area hospital, one case has tested positive for the H1N1 virus. Two of the patients tested negative for all flu viruses.

Montgomery County Public Health District is awaiting test results for the remaining patient. The 2013 Influenza vaccine does protect against the H1N1 virus. At this time no known deaths received the vaccine.

Based on CDC data, the H1N1 virus is nationally on the rise. It can reasonably be expected that the occurrence of more H1N1 cases will be reported. Public Health Officials will continue to monitor the situation diligently and will provide more information as it is received.

The Montgomery County Public Health District is grateful for Conroe Regional Hospital’s astute physicians who recognized the unusual nature of the illness and began the appropriate testing to reach a diagnosis.

Montgomery County Public Health District has been in discussion with the Texas Department of State Health Services along with the CDC to coordinate investigation efforts. Despite ongoing investigations, it cannot be emphasized enough that common infection control practices should be followed to prevent the spread of infection. As with common flu strains, some people are more likely to develop flu complications than others.

Please reference the CDC’s website, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm, which further explains the high risk population, including children under the age of 5, adults over the age of 65, and people with certain medical conditions.

It is also recommended that you receive your flu shot. Montgomery County Public Health Clinic is offering the vaccination by appointment, while supplies last. Call (936) 523-5020 to set up an appointment. For any other questions or concerns, please contact the Public Health hotline at (936) 523-5050. The line will be staffed Monday thru Friday from 8AM-5PM, it is for non-media inquiries only.

Ohio | State expands ‘Move Over Law’ to include road construction and maintenance workers

This week, the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 137, which is designed to protect the safety of construction and maintenance workers operating on Ohio roadways.

The new version of Ohio’s “Move Over Law” requires motorists to slow down and, as conditions permit, shift to an adjacent lane when approaching construction, maintenance and public utilities commission vehicles that are parked on the roadside with flashing, oscillating or rotating lights. Under the previous law, motorists were required to do so only when approaching police and other emergency vehicles, including tow trucks.
Officials from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission partnered in this legislative effort to provide their respective agencies’ roadway workers appropriate protection while performing their duties.
“A cornerstone of ODOT’s mission is the safety of all who drive on or work on Ohio’s roads,” said Jerry Wray, ODOT Director. “The expanded Move Over Law is a critical step to improving the safety of our workers, who risk their lives and well-being every day to care for the excellent transportation system the citizens of Ohio have come to expect. We at ODOT are tremendously grateful to Governor Kasich and the General Assembly for acting to protect our people.”
“I’m proud of the work that our roadway employees do on a daily basis, under very dangerous conditions,” Ohio Turnpike Executive Director Richard Hodges stated.  “It is because of their work in maintaining the road that the Ohio Turnpike is consistently rated as the best toll road in the entire nation.  As an agency, we continually do what we can to create the safest possible work conditions for our employees.  We greatly appreciate the leadership of Governor Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly in standing up for our employees through the expansion of Ohio’s “Move Over Law.”
Since 2008, more than 600 collisions occurred between the travelling public and ODOT vehicles and equipment. One such incident in April 2013 resulted in the death of 27-year-old Lee Rizor, a father of two and five-year veteran of ODOT’s workforce.  Just 15 months earlier, a similar tragedy occurred on the Ohio Turnpike when a tractor trailer plowed into a maintenance crew in rural Fremont, killing John Fletcher who had worked for the Turnpike for 28 years, and seriously injuring two other employees.  Due to the extent of their injuries, neither of these Turnpike workers have been able to resume their employment.

Massachusetts | Boston urges residents to prepare for severe winter weather

Mayor Menino is urging residents to be aware this weekend as the first potentially significant snow event of the season is on the horizon.

“The City of Boston is preparing for winter weather, and we’re asking residents to do the same,” Mayor Menino said. “We are actively monitoring the forecasts, and our Snow Team is prepared to respond and get our roads clear. As Bostonians continue to shop and prepare for Christmas, we will also focus on helping keep sidewalks and pedestrian walkways clear, so that the snow doesn’t hurt local businesses.”

Three-to-six inches of snow may fall in the eastern portion of Boston and up to 8 inches may fall in the western portions of the city. The heaviest snow is expected to fall late Saturday into Sunday morning.

This afternoon, members of the Mayor’s Snow Team met to discuss the latest snow-related information and response plans for the weekend.

The Department of Public Works will have 300 pieces of equipment available by 5 p.m. Saturday. City Public Safety agencies and the Mayor’s 24-Hour Hotline are staffing additional units for the overnight hours.

The Department of Neighborhood Development is coordinating with local business districts to call-in any problem areas that could affect shoppers.

Mayor Menino reminds residents of the following:     

  • Use public transportation when possible and avoid driving vehicles on slippery roads to keep roadways clear for plowing equipment and emergency vehicles.
  • Property owners are reminded to salt and sand sidewalks, stairs and pedestrian ramps to prevent slippery surfaces.
  • Residents are encouraged to shovel out hydrants and catch basins near or abutting their property to assist our public safety agencies and protect against flooding.
  • Please check on elderly or vulnerable neighbors who may need help.
  • Use caution when walking near buildings that may have falling snow or ice
  • Parking rules are strictly enforced during snow storms.  Do not block driveways, crosswalks or ramps, and do not park within 20 feet of an intersection
  • Boston Public Works crews are prepared for the snow event, and will be pre-treating roads and readying snow removal equipment across the city’s district yards.
  • Make sure tailpipes and house vents are clear of snow to prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Residents with weather-related questions or concerns should call the Mayor’s 24-Hour Hotline at617-635-4500.

Residents are also encouraged to use the City’s “Know Snow” program for access to other important storm-related information.  To receive notifications, register for the city’s Alert Boston network athttp://www.cityofboston.gov/snow/.  If you would like to receive updates on the storm on Twitter you can follow us: @NotifyBoston.

Vermont | Gov Shumlin signs State Emergency Operations Plan

Gov. Peter Shumlin today signed the 2013 State Emergency Operations Plan (SEOP), the official guide for emergency response in the state. 

The plan is updated every five years, and the 2013 version is unique because it integrates lessons learned from the response to Tropical Storm Irene, the most severe storm to hit the state in generations.

“Irene taught us that all levels of government need to be on the same page to carry out an effective response,” Gov. Shumlin said, surrounded by state and local officials, emergency responders, National Guard personnel and others at the Emergency Operations Center in Waterbury.  “We have implemented lessons learned, not just observed, and come up with a plan that will meet the needs of Vermonters before, during, and after a catastrophic event.”

The SEOP supports a unified, all-hazards approach to disaster preparation, response, and recovery.  State agencies, local jurisdictions, and supporting response organizations like the Red Cross and Vermont 2-1-1 worked together to update the plan to reflect what each learned during Irene.

The Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) spearheaded and organized the re-write with input from state, local, and emergency partners.  The new plan contains a more robust recovery and restoration section, which was noted as an area that needed significant improvement after the storms and damages of 2011.

“Our previous plans were sufficient for disasters we experienced before 2011,” DEMHS Deputy Director Ross Nagy, who coordinated the plan revision, said.  “We found as we recovered from Irene that we were adapting to conditions and adjusting practices based on needs.  The new plan documents the most effective practices and relationships that grew from the identified response support and recovery needs.”

The plan addresses all hazards that could be faced by Vermonters, from structure fires, to natural disasters, to acts of terrorism.  It also stresses that individual preparedness contributes to a more effective response and recovery.

“Preparedness and planning are not limited to the worst-case scenario or the most likely scenario,” Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said.  “Vermont and Vermonters should be ready for anything and have a plan that can be used before, during, and after any incident that might occur.  We have a blueprint that does just that.”

The complete State Emergency Operations Plan can be viewed on the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security web site at http://vem.vermont.gov/local_state_plans/eop