The Mid-Atlantic coast was spared a disaster from Irene! Loss of strength in North Carolina, a more favorable track than once predicted, the timing of maximum storm and low lunar tide and the significant evacuation success all contributed to reducing Irene’s impacts. We were so fortunate.
There is another Ocean View good-news story. The combination of good planning by Charles McMullen, public works supervisor, Ken McLaughlin, our chief of police, and Richie Walls, the Millville Volunteer Fire Company chief, and the capabilities of our Melson Building positioned us to respond to Irene.
Our multi-purpose and efficient Melson Building, which has received much criticism, served us well during Irene. We have now seen that moving administration and public works to the Nelson Building has enhanced efficiency and service convenience without detrimental public-safety capability impacts.
Public-safety activities operated smoothly and without limitations. We housed two National Guard personnel with their at-the-ready Humvee. We housed our state police officers from Troop 4 here in our town and not miles away, ready and available to meet area emergency calls.
We housed a number of town volunteers available for a day and a half or more, helping receive visitors, handle calls and providing assistance to the police department. We housed three Public Works employees who patrolled the town during the night and cleared fallen limbs, giving them a convenient place to catch some rest during the worst of the storm.
Two members of the town council, who were available all night as volunteers, developed an understanding of activities from tours of our town during regular police patrols and close-up observation. For me, it was a privilege and an education.
Communications equipment gaps precluded Millville Volunteer Fire Company leaders from also working in the Melson Building. This will be rectified, and our great fire company will benefit from our Melson Building and our excellent coordination capabilities.
Irene’s challenges and public-safety needs were met. If impacts had been much greater and as projected, the Melson Building would have met the challenge and been a huge asset. How fortunate we were that the response capabilities housed in our building were not required for severe emergency situations — this time! It is comforting to know that these capabilities will be available to Ocean View and our neighbors during inevitable coming emergencies.
The combination of the Melson Building’s multi-purpose capabilities, great public works and public safety staff, volunteers and good multi-agency planning is an asset to Ocean View and its neighbors. Not only does our multi-purpose building serve us well in our daily town activities, it will continue to serve us well during future public-safety emergencies. Ocean View is fortunate to have these staff and facility capabilities.