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CT prepares for Mass Evacs

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  • CT prepares for Mass Evacs

    STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - State homeland security officials have
    begun the daunting task of developing an evacuation plan to move
    large numbers of people along Connecticut's already-congested
    commuter routes if there is another major terrorist attack or
    natural disaster in New York City.
    "We're looking for evacuation plans maybe for a chemical or
    biological attack when everybody has to leave the city," said
    Connecticut Homeland Security Director Vincent J. DeRosa. "It's a
    huge undertaking."
    But even on routine days traffic congestion is severe in
    Fairfield County, which borders New York. Traffic would quickly
    bottleneck if a major catastrophe hit New York, making it difficult
    for people to get in or out of the city, DeRosa said.
    "The congestion issue is the reason we need to have a plan,"
    DeRosa said. "That is the reason we need to come up with a
    strategy for a mass evacuation. I'm looking for a plan as quickly
    as we can."
    One option would be to close all ramps on a major highway, such
    as Interstate 95, and make traffic one-way headed north, DeRosa
    said. Another highway, such as the Merrit Parkway, could be used
    for southbound traffic and emergency vehicles heading into New
    York, he said.
    DeRosa said officials haven't determined if that would be
    feasible, and said planning, which will be done with officials in
    New York and New Jersey, has just begun.
    "These are all issues that need to be looked at," DeRosa said.
    "This is really a plan that is in its infancy. This is going to be
    a long and extensive process."
    The plan will include coordinated traffic management for any
    type of man-made or natural disaster, ranging from a major fire to
    the release of radiation or the outbreak of an infectious disease.
    It also will be designed to reduce the potential for injuries and
    property damage.
    They will study daily traffic counts, identify fuel depots and
    the number of parking spaces at each train station, and determine
    whether additional train cars would be needed. They also will look
    at the use of ferries to bring people across Long Island Sound and
    identify medical facilities to treat injuries.
    Donald Petri, a program manager with the state Division of
    Homeland Security who is working on the initiative, said he hopes
    to have a conceptual plan ready for review by September.
    "It's an all encompassing effort that is taking place," Petri
    said. "This is bringing about a level of coordination that
    heretofore has not existed."
    Developing a traffic management plan will be challenging because
    the rush hour on I-95 has expanded to as much as five to six hours
    per day, said Melissa Leigh, a regional planner who began supplying
    data last week for the new plan. The highway had an average of
    about 150,000 vehicles per day in 2000, more than double the amount
    in the early 1980s, and the volume is projected to grow another 20
    percent by 2020, Leigh said.
    But she also noted the region has well developed mass transit.
    "I think it's great the state is taking a lead," Leigh said.
    "Everybody wants to know any sort of evacuation is going to happen
    on an orderly basis."
    Local officials also welcomed the initiative.
    "I feel it's very important and very needed," said Greenwich
    First Selectman Richard Bergstresser. "It's a constant concern of
    ours. We are the first community to be affected if anything happens
    in New York City."
    Connecticut has had a series of evacuation plans over the years,
    but earlier efforts tended to focus on responding to specific
    disasters such as a hurricane with coastal flooding, Petri said.
    The new plan would incorporate a mass evacuation from New York
    to Connecticut or an evacuation out of Connecticut, depending on
    where a disaster occurred, he said. It will also include plans to
    recover from any disaster.
    "The objective here is to bring about a level of confidence
    that says we are planning and we're going to be in control to the
    extent we can be in control," Petri said. "There is a need to go
    back and look at what has been done in the past, strengthen it and
    make it relevant for today's conditions."
    Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy said he's happy ideas such as the
    one-way highway concept are getting a closer look.
    "You're planning for an event that never happens," Malloy
    said. "You can think out of the box or maybe over the edge."

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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