DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — If a major disaster ever strikes Piscataquis County, every emergency responder knows what to do because of the extensive training they have had, according to Emergency Management Agency Director Tom Iverson Jr.
That training was recognized Tuesday when the county was acknowledged as a “Storm Ready” community by Mike Cantin, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service station in Caribou.
“In all of New England, there are five counties that are storm-ready, and Piscataquis County is the fifth county to be recognized, so it’s pretty amazing,” Cantin said. All of the counties recognized to date are in Maine, he said.
The “Storm Ready” program was initiated several years ago after a large tornado struck Oklahoma, according to Cantin. He said the communications during that disaster were not great, so efforts have been made to correct the deficiencies identified after that storm.
Cantin said his office has been working with counties to make sure they have several ways to receive weather warning information, that they understand the information, that they have a way to deliver the information to first responders and that the correct actions are taken. This training has been completed in Piscataquis County, he said.
The commissioners thanked Iverson and Tom Capraro of the county EMA office for their preparation work.
“It’s been an ongoing process and we’ve worked very hard on this,” Iverson said Tuesday. He said his department was proud of the county’s first responders because they know what they’re supposed to do and will do it.
In an unrelated matter, the commissioners voted to hold a public hearing to take testimony next month from Shirley residents who have appealed the town’s decision to discontinue winter maintenance on a portion of Blanchard Road.
Maine statute allows the commissioners to act as an appeals board on winter road closings just as in tax abatement requests. During the public hearing, testimony also will be sought from town officials.