Report of the Emergency Management Director for 2010

The Emergency Management Department prepares for natural and manmade disasters, serving as the local branch of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Wakefield continues as an active member of the 16 community Mystic Regional Emergency Planning Committee (REPC). The Mystic REPC meets 10 times during the year and works to conduct and coordinate emergency exercises and procedures throughout the area encompassed by its members.

Wakefield subscribes to Swiftreach Networks, an emergency notification telephone system that allows town officials to immediately notify residents and businesses via telephone of emergency situations and important community and school information.

During 2010 no local emergency shelters were opened. The town’s Emergency Manager completed a course on November 30 for Incident Command System Level 400 and has been certified to that level by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety.

The Wakefield Auxiliary Fire Department operates under the auspices of Emergency Management. During 2010, Auxiliary Captain Richard Harrington, Auxiliary Lieutenant Robert Sartori, and Auxiliary Firefighters Kevin Boyle, Al Catanzaro, Matthew Harrington, Michael Parr, and Matthew Nichols attended weekly training sessions and responded to emergencies as necessary. These men also volunteered their time at many civic events and activities. Their commitment to the community is commendable and worthy of recognition.

The Town of Wakefield experienced several significant emergency crises during 2010.

Wakefield was one of many communities in Massachusetts hit hard by flooding rains during the month of March. The rains that fell from March 12 to the 15 and from March 29 to the 31 generated hundreds of calls for assistance with flooding and water-related emergencies to both the Fire and Public Works departments. A section of New Salem Street flooded out and had to be closed to traffic. Crystal Lake overflowed its containment wall on Broadway and flooded the entire area around the intersection of Broadway and Foundry Streets, forcing additional street closures. Many homes near the end of Greenwood Street, Wiley Street and Water Street were seriously damaged by flooding. Hundreds of homes abutting wetlands or in low-lying areas were also damaged. Governor Patrick officially declared a State of Emergency in Massachusetts and President Obama eventually declared seven counties in Massachusetts a Federal Disaster Area because of the widespread damage inflicted by the storms. Wakefield’s Emergency Manager and Public Works Director toured flood-affected areas with teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), the Red Cross, the Small Business Administration, and the Massachusetts National Guard identifying neighborhoods hit hard by the flooding. Approximately 381 claims were eventually made by Wakefield residents and businesses to FEMA for financial assistance under the Individual Assistance Program. The Town of Wakefield applied for federal reimbursement from FEMA for costs associated with debris removal, labor cost including those of outside contractors and repairs to damaged infrastructure. More than $250,000 in reimbursement has been awarded to the Town for these damages to date. Individual homeowners in Wakefield have been awarded additional assistance totaling several hundred thousand dollars.

Wakefield had to deal with a second water-related emergency on May 1 when a 120-inch Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) water main supplying dozens of communities in the greater Boston area cracked at a pipe connection and had to be shut down for repairs. Although water was restored rather quickly by MWRA personnel utilizing back-up reservoirs and local water department personnel placing Crystal Lake on line, a boil water order had to be issued to all communities served by the MWRA until the water could be tested for bacterial contamination. The town’s emergency notification system was utilized a total of six times to alert Wakefield citizens to the problem, provide emergency instructions and direct them to water distribution sites. Two water distributions were conducted, the first on Sunday,, May 2 at the Galvin Middle School and the second on Monday, May 3 at the Knights of Columbus Parking lot on North Avenue. Both sites were well organized and staffed by a combination of town employees and assorted volunteers. These distribution sites delivered over 9,000 gallons of water to the citizens of Wakefield. The boil water order was lifted on Tuesday, May 4 when water testes verified it was safe for consumption. All town departments, particularly the Police, Fire, Health, Public Works and School Departments cooperated to make emergency planning run as smoothly as possible under the circumstances. Wakefield should be extremely proud of how the town pulled together during this emergency. I was very grateful to be part of such an effective emergency management team.

The emergency notification system was utilized less than a week after the MWRA water emergency when a 20-inch water main failed at Main and Green Streets, forcing the rerouting of traffic away from Main Street onto secondary roads for hours while repairs were made.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to all department heads and their supervisors for their continued cooperation and assistance in serving on the Local Emergency Planning Committee and to the volunteer members of the Wakefield Auxiliary Fire Department for their service during 2010.

Respectfully submitted,

Fire Chief Michael J. Sullivan
Emergency Management Director

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