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Letter: Should Yorktown Use Emergency Phone Calls?

Former Yorktown Supervisor Susan Siegel asks whether the town should spend money maintaining its phone system for alerting residents during emergencies or furnishing an Emergency Operations Center.
Former Yorktown Supervisor Susan Siegel asks whether the town should spend money maintaining its phone system for alerting residents during emergencies or furnishing an Emergency Operations Center. Photo Credit: File

YORKTOWN, N.Y. — The Yorktown Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to yorktown@dailyvoice.com .

Letter to the Editor:

As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

In February 2012, I posed the question: In the event of an emergency, what would help you more?

  • Getting phone calls, emails and text messages from the town with emergency updates, or
  • Knowing that the town’s first responders (police, fire, ambulance) were meeting in a newly furnished and carpeted room.

Back in February, the Town Board had two options for using some of the remaining funds from a $20,000 Entergy grant that the previous Town Board had secured to set up an Emergency Notification System:

  • Purchase the Verizon 911 list to add 15,000 phone numbers to the system’s database, or,
  • Set up a permanent, single-use meeting space for an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the basement of the court. Meetings can be held in any location that has sufficient space, a generator in the event there’s no electricity and access to communications equipment. During previous emergencies, the EOC was set up in the Police Department building.

Although the board never openly discussed the issue, at the time, Supervisor Michael Grace appeared to have made up his mind that furniture was more important than phone numbers and the Verizon list was never purchased.

And in August, the town, again with no board discussion, failed to renew the annual contract for the Emergency Notification System.

But the choice between an Emergency Notification System or a dedicated EOC meeting room has surfaced again.

Without any board discussion, or explanation of why the town can’t use the police headquarters for an EOC or what the EOC room will cost and where the money will come from, Supervisor Grace has stated that he intends to set up an EOC room in the court .

And what about the Emergency Notification System?

Has the Town Board voted to scrap the system? If so, why, and how does the town plan to communicate with its residents during future emergencies? The telephone may be “old school,” but guess what: It works when there’s no electricity. And not everyone has a smartphone, iPad or laptop computer.

So I repeat the question I posed in February: In the event of an emergency, would you like to get phone calls, emails and text messages from the town with emergency updates?

If your answer is YES, then let your elected officials hear from you before it’s too late.

For more information about the Emergency Notification System and the EOC, visit yorktownbettergovernment.org .

Susan Siegel Former Yorktown town supervisor and founder of Citizens for an Informed Yorktown

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