TOWN OF HALIFAX, VERMONT
SELECTBOARD EMERGENCY MEETING MINUTES—APPROVED
March 16, 2023
CALL TO ORDER:
Silverberg called the meeting to order at 2:34 PM. Selectboard members present were Pete Silverberg, Karen Christofferson, Edee Edwards (at Whitingham Free Public Library, Jacksonville, VT), and joining a bit later, Patrick McAllister. Tristan Roberts was not in attendance. Others in attendance remotely were Paul Blais, Tiana Smith and Mike Burke (VP Field Operations) from Green Mountain Power, Roza Podlaski, David Colyer, Laurel Copeland, Chris Parkins, Rayleigh Brown and Dave Meyer, Andrea Rand, and Linda Lyon.
Paul Blais had noted that the Selectboard should reorganize at their first meeting after Town Meeting Day. Edwards suggested that any action on this front should be temporary and reaffirmed or readdressed at the next regular meeting, as this is an Emergency meeting and the full board was not present. Edwards moved to nominate Pete Silverberg as Chair at least temporarily. Christofferson seconded. Motion carried 2-0-1, with Silverberg abstaining. (McAllister had not yet joined.)
A snowstorm spanning late Monday March 13-Wednesday March 15, 2023 dumped 2-3 feet of snow in Halifax. With many different communications forms failing due to the heavy snow and ongoing work by the road crew after losing 2 plow trucks off the roads early Tuesday, Selectboard members were hoping to understand recovery efforts, including power and phone outages, and share any info about concerns about vulnerable residents with many driveway plow operators also having difficulty keeping up.
We were unable to get an update from the road supervisor with the short notice, nor had we been able to connect with the new Fire Department chief (Dennis Anear). Paul Blais, Emergency Management Director, had reached out to Vermont Emergency Management, and got a referral about reaching GMP (Green Mountain Power). Tiana Smitha and Mike Burke from GMP were present to explain the status of electricity restoration in Halifax.
Tiana Smith’s role is help with communications, and she has the Town Clerk as a contact. Even with x# crews from the region already in Halifax, they have been adding crews today, and giving them safety briefings. Clearing road closures due to trees and wires down and roads blocked has been part of the necessary recovery. Just before the meeting, power was restored on Hubbard Hill Road (confirmed by Edwards), and the current number of customers in Halifax still without power was down to 114.
Silverberg asked when they expected to have all of Halifax restored. Burke responded that the majority should be restored by Friday was the response, but there may be a single house here and there which would take until Saturday.
Blais wanted to confirm good future connections and sharing of information on vulnerable residents.
The overall triage plan was discussed: https://greenmountainpower.com/news/how-gmp-restores-power/. We looked at the GMP Outage Center: https://greenmountainpower.com/outages/
Once questions for GMP were covered, other emergency management and community care ideas were discussed. Residents suggested having this on a future agenda as well. Communications is key—before, during and after events—but many of those systems were or remain blocked. Systems like VT Alert (blackboard connect in other communities), having phone trees, using Reverse 911, getting the new board training on the Incident Command System (ICS), and having both an up-to-date list of residents with needs or offerings, and a clear chain of command for things like physical checks on residents are all worth further discussions. Understanding the physics or mechanics of plowing and interactions with private and town plow operators when dealing with big snowstorms was also discussed.
No action beyond adding this for a future agenda item was taken.