Friday, October 26, 2012

Is Amherst Ready?

 Dirt spot behind Town Hall where generator will, eventually, go

Well, no.   

Communications command-and-control are vital in an emergency, which is why the military always targets it on the first strike.  Last year the freak Halloween storm dealt a devastating blow to communications capabilities by taking out the power region wide.

Since the exceedingly rare municipal downtown WiFi is centered in Town Hall and all the emitters run off the power from streetlights, the Internet died (at least our little piece of it).  The town had talked about outfitting Town Hall with a generator well before the storm struck and the 20/20 hindsight brought on by the massive power outage pushed an $85,000 appropriation through Joint Capital Planning Committee and then Town Meeting approval.

Thus the money was available to spend as of July 1st, start of the new fiscal year.  But as of this morning we have a dirt spot where the new generator is supposed to be. And high up on the top of Town Hall a new more powerful Cisco WiFi emitter has been installed, but without a generator will be useless should the power go out.
 Cisco WiFi emitter high atop Town Hall

In the immediate aftermath of the storm last year AFD Chief Nelson was charged with writing up an assessment of how well the town handled it and what steps needed to be taken to improve response for the next one. Number one on the "Action Item" list was the Town Hall generator.


Filed under the "it could be worse" category:  AFD Central and North Stations both have generators and WiFi, the water treatment plant and major water wells,  and of course Amherst Police Department at 111 Main Street has an emergency generator so the Community Room can and will serve as an Emergency Operations Center.

Town Manager John Musante seated left, Chief Scott Livingstone standing
Last year the EOC was activated for Hurricane Irene (which became a Tropic Storm on hitting New England).


Anonymous said...

Thank you Chicken Little. How did we ever manage storms before the internet?

Larry Kelley said...

The same way newspapers managed: the old fashioned way.

Anonymous said...

Last year was no fun when it was 50 degrees in my house. Can't we put a solar panel on the wifi gizmo?

Dr. Ed said...

There well may be a repeat for this Halloween. Hurricane combining with other stuff bound for NY/North and they are talking massive snow to the west of the storm.

Seriously -- when all the weather folk use such words, well...

Anonymous said...

Photovoltaic solar panels on the south roof of the police station feeding back-up batteries there and in nearby Town Hall for the telecommunications systems. Ditto at the North Fire Station, with a smaller version at Central. Ditto for the new UMass police station next to North Fire Station. That was recommended by the same folks who brought about your beloved Community WiFi - why waste so much money on these polluting, much-less-reliable diesel generators?

Anonymous said...

Dr Ed- Did you miss the point?

The upcoming storm (possibility of a repeat) is the reason Larry wrote this article.

Luckily Sandy is weakening as she heads North

Anonymous said...

Yay for photovoltaic cells! Glad to hear our wifi gizmo will work.

Larry Kelley said...

No, they do not have solar back up.

Anonymous said...

Bar line starting forming in the 8 o'clock hour (bar next to Antonio's) Looks like UMass jerseys are the "costume" for the day (is there a football gsme- or are the bars doing a St Patty's type all day celebration for Halloween?)

Larry Kelley said...

UMass football these days is a long way away, so probably the latter