By Jeff Gallatin
Area officials continue to try to make sure they aren’t blown away by the next version of Hurricane Sandy.
North Olmsted Mayor Kevin Kennedy said the Dec. 12 meeting between utility company officials and various area mayors at the monthly West Shore Council of Governments meetings went well.
“It’s always good to be able to meet face to face like that,” said Kennedy, whose city hosted the meeting.
“It gives us all a chance to communicate about issues, particularly ones on major situations like this,” Kennedy said.
In addition to having mayors and leaders from different companies and the utilities present, Kennedy said he appreciated being able to discuss the issues that arose from Hurricane Sandy with other people.
“We had workers and people there who were there on the ground dealing with the problems that came up because of Sandy,” he said. “It’s always good to talk with someone on the ground who was right there and what they had to deal with.”
Kennedy said the lines of communication established as a result of the meeting and other communications were help for future major storms and problems.
He said North Olmsted as a city also continues to learn from what happened and make additional preparations for future problems. He cited meetings safety service Director Scott Thomas and other city department heads have been having to discuss how the city handled Sandy.
“It’s absolutely helpful to review how things went and see how we could do things better or differently in the future,” he said.
Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland, who attended the WSCOG meeting and also took part in an earlier meeting – shortly after Sandy – among herself, Fairview Park Mayor Eileen Patton, Rocky River Mayor Pam Bobst and Illuminating Co. officials, said they all help.
“The WSCOG meeting went well and gave us a chance to continue to work on ways on making sure things go better the next time we have a storm or situation like this,” Sutherland said. “The three of us (Bobst, Patton and Sutherland) also received a followup letter from the Illuminating Co. to our meeting, going over and confirming the main points from our meeting.”
Sutherland has noted she appreciated the utility company’s willingness to discuss and plan to have additional manpower and resources ready to deploy earlier in a major storm to smaller communities like Bay Village, Fairview Park and Rocky River. Utility officials also said they would hold conference calls and provide other information in an effort to keep those mayors and their communities better informed as to how the utilities are dealing with problems resulting from any storm or major event.
FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin said the meetings are good for all parties involved.
“Anytime we can meet with the mayors and other members of a community, it’s a good way for us to work on finding ways to deal with situations like this,” he said.
Durbin said the letter from the utility to the mayors encapsulated what they worked on during their meetings and discussions.