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Springfield Officials Recognize Emergency Preparedness Month

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno watches Springfield Director of Emergency Preparedness Tyrone Denson demonstrate a new portable emergency operations center.
Paul Tuthill
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno watches Springfield Director of Emergency Preparedness Tyrone Denson demonstrate a new portable emergency operations center.

Residents urged to make an emergency plan, register for notifications via phone

After two storms – Henri and Ida – recently impacted the region, officials in Springfield, Massachusetts Monday encouraged residents to take steps before an emergency to stay safe.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno proclaimed September “Emergency Preparedness Month” and said simple steps to prepare before a natural or man-made disaster strikes can improve public health and safety and minimize property damage and economic harm.

“Emergency preparedness is the responsibility of every citizen in Springfield,” Sarno said.

Speaking in the city’s Emergency Operations Center, Sarno said the city continues to strengthen its preparedness for the next disaster.

“We also continue to build resiliency in the face of more extreme weather events,” Sarno said.

Springfield was spared significant damage from the recent major storms, but has endured catastrophic disasters in the last decade including a tornado in 2011 that tore through a third of the city, a snowstorm in October of the same year that left many without power for a week, and a natural gas explosion that destroyed or damaged scores of buildings downtown.

“I am very thankful and appreciative of my cabinet heads down to rank-and-file who have been tested and true through a number of those,” Sarno said.

Fire Commissioner Bernard Calvi urged residents to sign up for the city’s notification system so they can receive warnings and updates about emergencies via phone call.

“We can geofence it by neighborhoods to break it down to send specific notifications to specific neighborhoods that may be affected,” Calvi said.

Preparing for an emergency begins by making a plan, said Tyrone Denson, the city’s Director of Emergency Preparedness.

“And when you create the plan, please involve your children,” Denson urged. “Involve your children in the plan and create and practice drills at home so that everyone is on the same page and everyone can reunify and locate one another in times of disaster.”

Another recommendation is to have an emergency kit. The items in it will vary depending on individual needs but as a general rule there should be at least a three-day supply of water and non-perishable foods. Also, prescription medications, a first-aid kit, batteries, a flashlight, and a radio – battery powered or hand crank.

“Within the first couple days of an emergency, it is going to take time for the professionals to get out to help you,” Denson said.

Step-by-step emergency preparedness instructions can be found at the website mass.gov/ready.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.