EAST PALESTINE — The village is looking into the feasibility of purchasing a generator large enough to power an emergency shelter should there ever be another large-scale power outage of the sort that occurred on Nov. 15-17.
Village Manager Pete Monteleone, speaking at a council committee meeting this week, said he is still looking into obtaining a grant to purchase a generator that could be used to open an emergency shelter in town should another power outage on the same scale occur. Besides the police department, the only village building with a generator is the East Clark Street fire station, which was opened to the public as a temporary warming shelter during the outage.
Monteleone said they need a larger place in town with a kitchen that could serve as a shelter where residents could spend several days if needed, but the local facilities that could serve this purpose– such as the school — do not have a generator. He has been investigating what it would take to acquire a generator, and Councilman Brett Todd said it would cost about $50,000 to get one the size that is needed.
During the Nov. 15-17 outage, the American Red Cross opened a shelter at the Upper Room Fellowship outside Columbiana, where people without power could stay if they wanted and seven households chose to do so.
The committee meeting was called by acting Mayor Alan Cohen to discuss the need for speaking with one voice during emergencies and to improve the ability of council to communicate with each other during . He said they also need to determine what community facilities could be used during an emergency.
As for speaking with one voice, “I think we have to refer everything to Pete. He’s the one in charge,”Cohen said, and council appeared to agree.
Councilman DJ Yokely said social media should be the primary means for getting the word out during emergencies and it should be done quickly, and Monteleone said he updated the village’s Facebook page as he received new information. Police Chief Jim Brown said he was in constant contact with the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency and he passed whatever information he received onto Monteleone to post online.
Monteleone said he also EMA sent out alerts to East Palestine residents who signed up for the EMA’s automatic notification system, and they also had the school district do the same with parents using its all-call automated system.
“We were multifaceted in our approach,” he said, adding not only did he post updates immediately on social media and use the automated alert systems, they also contacted local TV stations and newspapers.