May 21, 2018
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Professional disaster planner for Penobscot County earns certification

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Michelle Tanguay is a professional planner.

Tanguay, 38, of Brewer doesn’t plan weddings, parties or reunions.

She prepares for floods, tornadoes, plane crashes, online attacks and other manmade and natural emergencies and disasters.

Tanguay is the head of the Penobscot County Emergency Planning Agency.

On Tuesday, she was named a Certified Emergency Manager for Maine. She received the certificate four years to the day after the biggest crisis she has helped handle so far — the May 1, 2008, flooding of the Penobscot River.

That year, the river flooded sections of U.S. Route 2 in Costigan and Milford.

“She’s the link between the local communities and the state,” Robert Bohlmann, chairman of the certification program for the Maine Emergency Management County Directors Council, said Tuesday of Tanguay. “She is the go-to person in a community emergency or disaster.”

Tanguay began working for the county 9½ years ago as a clerical specialist. She worked full time for the county, but her duties were split between emergency management and the Roads and Mapping Department.

Several years ago, Tanguay began working full time planning for emergencies as the deputy director of the county agency. She was named director in December after her predecessor, Tom Robertson, retired.

She currently is working with communities in Penobscot County to ensure that each one has a disaster plan.

“I spend time with responders in local communities to make sure their plans are realistic and up to date,” Tanguay said Tuesday. “I also work to make sure all the contact information they have is current.”

Tanguay also works with schools in the county to create and update plans for storms and power outages as well as for a potentially violent situation with a student, parent or community member.

This spring, she will lead tabletop exercises with school officials to demonstrate best practices in a variety of school crisis scenarios.

Tanguay said that one of her goals is to raise the public’s awareness about the agency and what it does. Penobscot and Piscataquis counties will sponsor an expo from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 23, at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer.

The event will include displays on generator safety presented by Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., training for weather spotters by the National Weather Service and demonstrations by first responders such as the Orono Regional Response Team and the Bangor Fire Department. Relief groups, including the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, also will participate.

For information, call 945-4750.

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