As the Boys Scouts say, “be prepared.” Gov. Gina Raimondo and state Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti have applied that motto as the temperature drops and the prospect of winter weather increases. To demonstrate just how prepared the state is, the governor and state officials gathered Tuesday morning beside a 20,000-ton mountain of road salt off Jefferson Boulevard. Parked alongside it were two shiny new $250,000 plows and a vehicle that looks like an anteater on steroids – it has a long snout protruding from the front – that has proven to be highly effective in filling potholes.
The plows are two of 13 that have been added to the state fleet of 100. They are equipped with technology that evenly disperses salt regardless of the vehicle’s speed, thereby reducing waste.
The 20,000 tons of salt comprise a “strategic reserve,” only to be used when supplies have been depleted and delivery of additional salt is difficult or delayed, as happened last winter. You might say it’s salt in the bank for a snowy day.
The salt and the trucks were part of the message that the state plans to get a jump on winter and be prepared for whatever Mother Nature brings us. Also in attendance was Peter Gaynor, director of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, who outlined efforts to coordinate storm responses with cities and towns and to keep the public informed of developments leading up to and during a storm.
One tool to be used is Code Red, a system that uses automated phone calls and email to contact sectors of the population. Code Red was recently used in an effort to locate a woman with dementia who had wandered away from her home while walking a dog in Conimicut. Gaynor has also compiled a list of shelters across the state and arranged with National Grid for a representative from the utility to be stationed at operations headquarters should there be an extensive power outage.
It’s reassuring that these measures are being put in place and that there is a plan.
Naturally, to say one is prepared is one thing, and to actually deliver is another.
Raimondo is setting expectations, and judging from remarks made Tuesday she’ll be holding her directors accountable.